ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Tuesday passed two more FATF-related bills out of five such laws amid protest by Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) members for not considering their proposed amendments to one of the bills as they were assured by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and Law Minister Farogh Naseem that their proposed amendments would be considered in the form of a new bill next week.
The Senate passed the Islamabad Capital Territory Trust Bill 2020 and the Control of Narcotic Substances (Amendment) Bill 2020 as per conditions of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to steer the country out of the grey list of the countries in terms of terror financing.
The passage of the two bills had been deferred on Monday following a strong protest by senators belonging to the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, the JI and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and at the requests of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Peoples Party as the opposition senators wanted to speak on the proposed legislations.
Later in their speeches, the senators of the three parties not only lashed out at the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf for “doing legislation in haste under international pressure”, but also bitterly criticised the country’s two major opposition parties for cooperating with the government in the passage of the crucial laws.
JI assured its proposed amendments to be considered in the form of new bill
Before deferring the two bills, the Senate had already passed the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2020 amid noisy protest by the senators, mostly from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The two other bills — the Limited Liability Partnership (Amendment) Bill 2020 and the Companies (Amendment) Bill 2020 — again could not be taken up by the upper house as they have not been cleared by the Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue yet.
All these five bills had already been passed by the National Assembly after the government incorporated a number of amendments suggested by the opposition parties.
After passage of the bills, the PML-N’s Mushahid Hussain Sayed raised the matter regarding issuance of a show cause notice by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to Palestinian Ambassador Ahmad Rabaie in Pakistan over alleged violation of the customs act.
The PML-N senator said the FBR had tendered an apology to the ambassador, but it was not acceptable as it had happened at a time when there were talks about recognition of Israel by the Muslim countries.
He said the diplomat was not only served the notice over the import of two cars, but was also asked to appear before the FBR which was a violation of Vienna Convention and other international laws. Moreover, he said, his cars were confiscated which was an “excess” committed with the ambassador of a friendly country.
Mr Sayed also criticised the Foreign Office for remaining silent over the issue though that the matter had been brought to its knowledge last month.
The Senate chairman referred the matter to the committee on foreign affairs headed by Mr Sayed, asking him to present a report before the house.
Leader of the House Shahzad Waseem, however, regretted the PML-N senator’s act of linking the FBR notice to the Palestine issue, terming it “inappropriate.” He said that he was not speaking about the specific issue, but there were reports in the past about the misuse of the facility to import vehicles for diplomats.
Earlier, responding to a question by JI Senator Mushtaq Ahmed, Minister for Economic Affairs Makhdoom Khusro Bukhtiar through a written reply informed the Senate that 15 countries and international organisations had committed to provide $3302.06 million to Pakistan as loans, grants and technical assistance in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. Out of total committed amount, he said, $2660.35m had been disbursed so far.
Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2020