NA, Senate to take up more FATF bills

Published September 6, 2020
Babar Awan said the date for the joint sitting would be finalised after consultation with Prime Minister Imran Khan. — APP/File
Babar Awan said the date for the joint sitting would be finalised after consultation with Prime Minister Imran Khan. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan on Saturday said the government had convened sessions of the National Assembly and the Senate next week, specifically to get FATF-related bills passed.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Awan said he would also move motions in the upcoming National Assembly session starting on Monday (tomorrow) to seek approval of the house to refer the Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Waqf Properties Bill — earlier rejected by the Senate — to the joint sitting of the parliament.

He said the date for the joint sitting would be finalised after consultation with Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari, in a statement, has asked the government to postpone the National Assembly session due to the emergency situation in the country after the recent rains.

The PPP chairman said the elected representatives were presently busy in relief activities in their respective constituencies.

Bilawal seeks postponement of National Assembly session

PPP MNA Raja Pervez Ashraf had already made a formal request to the National Assembly speaker to delay the session.

After the passage of the 18th Consti­tu­tion Amendment, if a bill passed by one house of the parliament is rejected by the other, it can only become a law after being passed by a combined sitting of the two houses.

The 104-member opposition-dominated Senate on Aug 25 had rejected the two bills through a voice vote after it objected to some of the provisions of the laws and linked its cooperation to retraction of the remarks made by Leader of the House Dr Shahzad Waseem about its leadership.

These bills had been passed by the National Assembly only the previous day.

A day after the rejection of the two bills, the opposition had questioned the legality of the entire proceedings leading to the voting process and said the bills could not be sent to the joint sitting of parliament.

While the opposition controverted the discretionary powers exercised by the Senate chairman to allow the motion seeking permission to take the bills for consideration, Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani ruled that the proceedings were in accordance with the rules of business.

The opposition has a thin majority of nine votes in the joint sitting of parliament, but the government is hopeful of getting the two bills passed.

Mr Awan said the government intended to bring the Anti-Terrorism Amendment (ATA) Bill as per the demand of the opposition in the upcoming sessions of the two houses of the parliament. He said previously the government had planned to introduce the bill seeking an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to accommodate some of the conditions of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to bring the country out of the grey list of countries in terms of terror financing.

Mr Awan said the opposition was of the view that if the provisions aimed at unearthing criminals’ network were included in the CrPC, it could provide an opportunity to the police to misuse their powers.

In response to a question, the adviser made it clear that “presently we are not holding any talks with the opposition” and said the understanding on the amendments to the ATA had been reached with the opposition during negotiations held with them in the past.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet Secretariat on Saturday issued a notification regarding nomination of Mr Awan as member of the Cabinet Committee on Disposal of Legislative Cases.

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2020

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