Senate passes Anti-Terrorism Act, UNSC amendment bills

Updated 31 Jul 2020

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Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressing the Senate. — DawnNewsTV
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressing the Senate. — DawnNewsTV

The Senate on Thursday approved with amendments two crucial bills related to the action plan of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and required to remove the country from its grey list.

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani chaired the session of the Upper House during which Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan presented the United Nations (Security Council) Bill 2020 and the Anti Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2020.

Both bills were passed with a majority vote as Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam–Fazl (JUI-F) voiced its opposition, claiming that the point of view of its lawmakers was not heard. "Are we enemies of the nation?" asked Maulana Attaur Rehman.

Calling out the PPP and the PML-N, he said that both parties have never sided with the opposition and have supported the government.

Speaking on the floor of the house, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said: "Today the Senate has proven that it is a mature forum and can work for national interest by keeping aside political differences."

He maintained that by passing the two bills, the Senate had "defeated India's ambitions" of having Pakistan blacklisted by the FATF. "We are trying to remove Pakistan from the grey list and today you have played a part in these efforts.

"We may have many differences, but we are all one when it comes to national issues."

Governments are temporary, he said, adding that everybody has been on both sides.

"Today the political parties of Pakistan have demonstrated maturity and this is what a statesman has to demonstrate.

"I wish the JUI-F would have reviewed its position. By opposing this bill, they have given the impression that we are divided," he said, urging the lawmakers to review their objections as the bills had to be sent to the National Assembly once again.

The bills were then sent to the lower house where they were passed with the amendments made by the Senate. Awan once again presented the bills which were passed by a majority vote.

The JUI-F lawmakers voiced their opposition in NA as well. The session was adjourned till August 7.

FATF, NAB bills are separate: opposition

Speaking at a press conference earlier in the day, former prime minister and senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that the opposition had proposed changes to the UNSC bill which the government accepted.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Sherry Rehman addressing a press conference. — DawnNewsTV
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Sherry Rehman addressing a press conference. — DawnNewsTV

"We questioned the definition of 'person' in the anti-terrorism bill and that was also accepted. These two bills were decided in about 20 to 25 minutes."

He added that there was a third bill concerning economic terrorism that was "more horrific than Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir". "We questioned the need for it and it was dropped," he said.

He said that the opposition had made it clear that the FATF and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) bills were separate, adding that it was the government that wanted to have four bills passed simultaneously.

NA passes bills amid opposition protest

The government on Wednesday had managed to get the two FATF-related bills passed by the National Assembly amidst a noisy protest by the opposition.

The bills were passed amid sloganeering from the opposition benches, mainly in protest against Foreign Minister Qureshi's speech in the assembly on Tuesday in which he had explained the deadlock between the government and the opposition over a number of legislations.

The noisy protest led the NA speaker to suspend proceedings on three occasions: twice when Qureshi refused to speak amid the opposition's slogans and once soon after the passage of the bills.