Govt, opposition reach consensus on six FATF-related bills

Updated 12 Aug 2020

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The National Assembly Secretariat issued a 16-point agenda for the sitting on Wednesday and it contains the six agreed bills. — APP/File
The National Assembly Secretariat issued a 16-point agenda for the sitting on Wednesday and it contains the six agreed bills. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The government and the opposition on Tuesday finally succeeded in developing a consensus on six out of eight FATF-related laws, thus paving the way for their smooth passage from the National Assembly on Wednesday (today).

“Yes, we have reached an understanding as the government has accepted almost all our amendments,” said senior Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Syed Naveed Qamar, expressing the hope that the bills would sail through the assembly easily.

He said the government had agreed to defer the remaining two bills — the Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill 2020 and the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill 2020 — and discussions on these two legislations would be held after some time.

The National Assembly Secretariat issued a 16-point agenda for the sitting on Wednesday and it contains the six agreed bills.

The bills on which the two sides have reached an understanding are: the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Limited Liability Partnership (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Companies (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Control of Narcotic Substances (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Control of Narcotics Substances (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill 2020 and the Islamabad Capital Territory Trust Bill 2020.

PPP leader hopes legislation will sail through NA today as all opposition amendments accepted

The breakthrough was achieved during a meeting between the government and the opposition representatives at a meeting held at the official residence of Speaker Asad Qaiser on Tuesday — a day after the government decided to defer the presentation of five bills in order to meet conditions of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and engage the opposition parties through the speaker with whose efforts the government had previously managed to get three such bills approved through parliament.

The government had decided to take the opposition on board on the legislations that had already been passed by the National Assembly’s standing committees amid protest by the opposition parties and following their announcement to block these bills in parliament.

Leaders of the PPP and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had declared that until they could make amendments, they would not let these laws pass from parliament. It was after hectic consultations with the PPP and PML-N and after accepting most of their amendments that the coalition government led by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had managed to get the Mutual Legal Assistance (Criminal Matter) Bill — for exchange of information and criminals with countries — passed in the joint sitting of parliament last week.

Before it, the government had already successfully managed to get two FATF-related bills — the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2020 and the United Nations (Security Council) (Amendment) Bill 2020 — passed separately from both the houses of parliament with the support of the two opposition parties and amid protest by other smaller opposition parties, including Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), Jamaat-i-Islami and nationalist parties from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The passage of the bills was necessary to bring Pakistan out of FATF’s grey list.

It was after a strong protest by the JUI-F members in the National Assembly on Monday that the government also invited the party and MNA Shahida Akhtar Ali represented the JUI-F in the talks with the government team comprising Law Minister Farogh Naseem and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar on Tuesday.

The opposition had been opposing the bills terming them beyond the FATF requirements and fearing that these could be used in the country for political engineering and victimisation. The opposition had also raised objections over the procedure adopted by the government, saying the government knew about the FATF deadlines for a long time but kept these laws pending before the committees concerned for months.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2020