ISLAMABAD: Reiterating the government’s stance that the country has been in the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list merely on political grounds, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan on Monday declared on the floor of the National Assembly that Pakistan would not take any foreign dictation on the issue of prosecution of its nationals.
“We will award sentences to individuals according to our own laws and constitution. Now, foreign dictation will not be allowed on the issue of someone’s prosecution,” the minister said while responding to questions by the opposition members on behalf of Finance Minister Shaukar Tarin during the question hour when the National Assembly met after a two-day recess.
The lower house of parliament, which has been in session since July 8 only to meet the constitutional requirement of holding at least 130 sittings in a parliamentary year, once again failed to take up agenda items due to lack of quorum.
“The time has gone when [US national] Raymond Davis was allowed to leave the country. The time has gone when the [country’s] president used to rush to the US [for help],” Mr Khan said while responding to the opposition’s criticism of the government over its “failure” to bring the country out of the FATF grey list.
The minister was responding to a supplementary question of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MNA and former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf who had asked him to tell the house about the only condition which Pakistan had not so far fulfilled to come out of the FATF grey list.
Mr Khan said the only point left for implementation was regarding the prosecution of some people. He said the country had not been able to come out of the FATF grey list because of political reasons and not on technical grounds, adding that when Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken a bold stance of saying “no” then “the nation will have to definitely pay the price [for it]”.
He asked the nation to support the prime minister for taking a bold stance and said Pakistan had already fulfilled 26 of the 27 points and would soon come out of the grey list.
The question about FATF conditions had originally been asked by PPP’s Shamim Ara Panhwar and it was deferred by the speaker during the assembly session in May.
In a written reply to the question, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin told the assembly that the FATF had reviewed Pakistan’s progress on FATF action plan in its plenary meeting held on Feb 25. He said Pakistan had undertaken enormous work to strengthen its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) regime and address the strategic counterterrorism financing-related deficiencies.
“This work has been acknowledged by the FATF in its plenary statement by taking note of the significant progress made on the entire action plan and by largely addressing 24 out of the 27 action items in the action plan,” the minister said, adding: “As of now, all the 10 action items pertaining to the financial sector and border controls have been addressed.”
In relation to terrorism financing investigations and prosecutions, he said six of the eight action items had been addressed, whereas for targeted financial sanctions, eight of the nine action items also stood addressed.
“Pakistan has also made notable progress in the remaining three action items which also stand partially addressed. The progress on the remaining three action items is well underway with significant progress made so far and it is expected that Pakistan would complete remaining action plan items by FATF plenary of June 2021 and would become eligible to exit from grey list in accordance with FATF International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) procedures,” the minister stated in his reply which had been submitted to the National Assembly Secretariat before the June 21 FATF plenary.
Pakistan, however, had been retained in the grey list while failing to complete one action plan point.
In response to a question by PPP’s Dr Nafisa Shah, the minister of state for parliamentary affairs announced that the special audit report on alleged irregularities in Covid-19 pandemic fund would be presented before parliament over the next two weeks. He said the president and the prime minister had given approval and the report was now in the printing stage at the Auditor General Office.
In his written reply, the finance minister had stated that the AG had submitted its reports to the president and “one of the said reports relates to expenditure incurred on Covid-19 by the federal government” during the financial year 2020-21.
Soon after the question hour, the opposition members staged a silent walkout leaving behind PPP’s Ramesh Lal to point out lack of quorum.
Speaker Asad Qaiser adjourned the sitting till Tuesday (today) afternoon as the house was lacking quorum for which the presence of at least 86 legislators in the 342-member house was required.
Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2021