NA panel passes bill to get details of Pakistanis’ foreign assets

Updated November 14, 2019

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Mutual Legal Assis­tance (Criminal Matter) Bill, 2019 will also allow other countries to get information from Pakistan. — AFP/File
Mutual Legal Assis­tance (Criminal Matter) Bill, 2019 will also allow other countries to get information from Pakistan. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Despite severe resistance by Abdul Qadir Patel of the Pakistan Peoples Party, a parliamentary committee on Wednes­day passed a bill which will allow the government to get information about foreign assets and bank accounts of Pakistani citizens.

The Mutual Legal Assis­tance (Criminal Matter) Bill, 2019, will also allow other countries to get information from Pakistan.

A meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Com­mittee on Interior, held under the chairmanship of Raja Khurram Shahzad Nawaz of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in the Committee Room of the National Database and Registra­tion Authority headquarters, was told by Interior Secretary retired Major Azam Suleman Khan that the bill was very important for Pakistan “as it will help the country phase out from grey list of the Financial Action Task Force”.

Most of the committee’s members were of the view that the bill should be passed, but Mr Patel opposed it and said: “We need to see that if there are some political motives of the bill. Moreover, we should also see that if we will only be giving information or we will also be able to get information from other countries.’’

The interior secretary said Section 8 of the bill clearly stated that the agreement cannot be one-sided. The committee’s chairman decided to hold voting and declared that the bill had been approved.

Mr Patel, however, said that his dissent should be recorded.

Later talking to Dawn, the PPP legislator said that he had thoroughly studied the bill and it was prepared for the exchange of information with other countries.

“It states that even if a first information report is registered against a person, the state can get information about his accounts from other countries. It will become a weapon in the hands of the government due to which politically motivated cas­­es would be registered and the state would be able to inquire from other countries about the assets,” Mr Patel said.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2019