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Shireen Mazari calls for probe into 'criminal negligence' of past rulers

Updated June 25, 2019

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Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari speaks in the National Assembly during the budget session. — DawnNewsTV screengrab
Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari speaks in the National Assembly during the budget session. — DawnNewsTV screengrab

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari on Tuesday called for a parliamentary probe into "criminal negligence" of past governments and bureaucrats for not taking steps to make Pakistan a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

During today's National Assembly sitting, she told the parliament that the financial watchdog was established by the G-7 countries in 1989 to act against money laundering.

Also read: Pakistan thwarts India’s FATF blacklist move but danger still lurks

"India became its (FATF) member in 1998 after the constitution of Framework of Monitoring Unit. Since then, India is creating problems for us every now and then," she said.

"Parliament should conduct an investigation against specific members of bureaucracy, foreign ministers and institutional heads [of previous governments] for not applying for the membership of FATF," she said.

She alleged that previous governments did not apply for FATF membership because it would have "exposed their money laundering and corruption".

"If we were a part of FATF, we would not have been facing difficulties," she said. Pakistan was placed on watchdog's so-called grey list in June last year for not complying with international standards on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML-CFT). Last week, it narrowly avoided being placed on FATF's blacklist but only until October.

The international media, while reporting the FATF decision, had noted that "India wants Pakistan blacklisted, which would likely result in sanctions".

India is currently a co-chair of the joint group of FATF and the Asia Pacific Group (APG), which deals with Pakistan.

During her speech in the Lower House today, Mazari also asked for an investigation into non-registration of a bilateral agreement between Pakistan and India, signed in 2008 in United Nations regarding not giving consular access to spies arrested in each others countries.

She was of the view that if the agreement would have been registered in UN, International Court of Justice would not have been able to entertain the Indian case about consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav.

The minister said that as per the international laws, bilateral agreements signed between two countries needed to be registered with the UN in order to be recognised by international institutions.

'Mazaaq-i-ma'eeshat' comment was given in light of current situation

PML-N stalwart Khawaja Asif speaks in the National Assembly. — DawnNewsTV screengrab
PML-N stalwart Khawaja Asif speaks in the National Assembly. — DawnNewsTV screengrab

PML-N stalwart Khawaja Asif on Tuesday said his party does not disagree with the proposal to sign a charter of economy, but regretted that the government had not consulted the opposition before the budget.

The charter of economy was proposed by PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif during the ongoing session of the National Assembly.

"If a voice from our party called the [charter of economy] mazaaq-i-ma'eeshat (making a mockery of the economy), it was because of the current situation," Asif said during his speech in the National Assembly today.

He was referring to a recent press conference hosted by PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz, during which she had said that there can be no agreement with the incumbent government, which she accuses of "stealing the people's mandate".

Asif, in today's session, said: "A new financial order is being introduced that we disagree with. Wouldn't it have been better if we had reached a consensus before the budget?"

He recalled that PML-N supremo had floated the idea of a charter of economy a decade ago and said that his party "supports it in principle".

He regretted that there was "no meeting point" between the government and the opposition.

"Let's first create a meeting point between the treasury and the opposition on the budget. It would be a start, a good start, and its end point can be a charter of economy," he said.

Asif had backed Maryam's statement in a media talk on Sunday, saying: “Yes it is true that the charter of economy has become a joke and what Maryam said is absolutely right as per the policy of PML-N.”

Khawaja Saad Rafique, who was speaking in the ongoing National Assembly session for the first time since his production orders were issued, said that the charter of democracy should be extended before a charter of economy is signed.

Khawaja Saad Rafique speaks on the floor of National Assembly. — DawnNewsTV screengrab
Khawaja Saad Rafique speaks on the floor of National Assembly. — DawnNewsTV screengrab

"In order to sign charters and agreements, to run the country, political temperature of the country needs to be lowered," he said.

"Charters are not signed with a gun pointed at your head."

He criticised the proposed increase in income tax and said that the budget will burden the salaried class. He said that granting income tax officials the power to raid people's houses might lead to an increase in corruption.

"Would it (granting of additional powers) not lead to a flood of corruption? Or is corruption only limited to politicians?" he asked.

"Are you aware of the effects of granting powers to [income tax officials] to enter people's houses? The entire nation will suffer [from them]."

He said that the government would not be able to increase tax collection by raising the tax slab to 35 per cent, as is proposed in the budget.

He regretted that the government had reduced spending on education even though the ruling party had promised in its manifesto that it would work on the sector.

Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, in his speech also criticised previous governments and said that there was a time when PML-N and PPP earned votes by accusing each other of robbing and looting the country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan's election into power, Chaudhry said, "had changed the whole scenario". He said that the premier had formed the government "upon the narrative of accountability across the board".

"Prime Minister Imran Khan has fulfilled his promises of capturing corrupt and robbers, and he will not sit calmly until all suchpeople are taken to the task," he said.

Chaudhry said that the incumbent government was committed to develop in science and technology sector and had allocated Rs43 billion for the ministry in the proposed budget.