Stringent law to curb child abuse, rape on the cards

Updated 17 Sep 2020

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ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser presiding over the joint session of parliament while Prime Minister Imran Khan making the speech. — PID
ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser presiding over the joint session of parliament while Prime Minister Imran Khan making the speech. — PID

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced that the government will soon introduce a three-tier legislation providing for registration of sex offenders, exemplary punishment for rape and child abuse and effective policing.

“Such incidents ruin the lives of victims and their families also have to suffer,” said Mr Khan, referring to the heart-wrenching incident on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway on Sept 9. He pointed out that the main suspect in the recent gang-rape case was a history-sheeter, explaining that global data indicated that such criminals were repeat offenders and therefore maintaining their data was important.

The prime minister expressed these views while addressing a joint sitting of parliament after passage of a number of Financial Action Task Force-related bills on Wednesday.

Imran accuses opposition of blackmailing govt over FATF-related bills

Mr Khan said the legislation being prepared would not only provide for exemplary punishment for rape and child abuse offences but would also contain provisions for registration of sex offenders and effective policing. He admitted that only a very small percentage of such cases were reported to police in the country. Even after the arrest of offenders in rape and child abuse cases, their conviction was not easy in absence of proper prosecution and concrete evidence, he pointed out. For this reason, he said, the bill being prepared would also provide for witness protection.

The prime minister in his speech also accused the opposition parties of trying to blackmail the government over the Financial Action Task Force-related legislation.

After the passage of a few more FATF-related bills, Mr Khan said the opposition had demanded amendment to 34 of the total 38 clauses of the National Accountability Bureau law, which if accepted would mean burying the anti-graft watchdog.

He said the opposition sought to exclude money laundering from the NAB law under the cover of FATF-related legislation in order to hide corruption of their leaders who owned precious foreign assets. “Why they are scared if they have not laundered ill-gotten money,” Mr Khan remarked.

According to a report, Mr Khan said, 10 billion dollars were laundered from Pakistan each year. He said Hyde Park-1 was one of the most expensive properties in London. Likewise, Mayfair was among most-prized land in London. He said the other opposition party leader also owned properties in the name of his front-men. However, he said, former president Asif Zardari had a property in New York in his name and a case in this regard was in process.

He also criticised the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party governments for five-fold increase in external debts during their 10-year rule. In attempt to justify the borrowings in last two years, the prime minister said what other option was left for the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government to run the country’s affairs when “half of the amount collected by us through taxes went in debt servicing and Rs2,600 billion of the Rs4,000 billion revenue generated in the second year would be spent to pay loan installments”.

Mr Khan said when the government talked of corruption, the opposition clamoured terming it political victimisation. “Are they protecting public interest? They want to save the stolen money,” he said.

He explained that Pakistan had not been grey-listed by the FATF during the present government term, but it had inherited this status. He said democratic opposition had an important role to play in protecting the rights of the masses.

“The opposition’s attitude on FATF legislation has confirmed my views about their leadership. The interests of their leaders and Pakistan are in contrast with each other,” he remarked.

He elaborated that Pakistan’s placement on the FATF’s grey list would simply mean sanctions, which would crash the economy. Therefore, he said, the bills to meet FATF requirement were in the country’s interest but the opposition gave preference to personal interest.

The prime minister said the government was ready to extend any kind of cooperation to the opposition in the interest of the country and democracy, but ruled out any compromise on corruption.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2020