After a string of Senate defeats, the Pakistani government on Wednesday pushed through all pending terrorism financing legislation linked to FATF compliance through a joint session of parliament amid strong protests and a strike by members of the opposition.
The hopeless move by the Imran Khan government is part of an effort to lift Pakistan off the Financial Action Task Force’s “gray list” and prevent it from descending further to a “black list”. The global terrorist financing and money laundering watchdog is expected to review Pakistan’s compliance in October.
The FATF graylisted Pakistan in June 2018 and asked Islamabad to implement an action plan by the end of 2019, but the deadline has been extended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The joint session of parliament was convened just hours after the Senate rejected the Anti-Terrorism Bill (Third Amendment), 2020 by 34 votes to 31, a day after it was passed by the lower house, the National Assembly.
It was the third law rejected by the 104 members of the upper house in the past month. The bill was intended to give investigators the power to conduct undercover operations, intercept communications and gain access to computer systems. He called for the insertion of article 19-C in the anti-terrorism law (ATA) relating to the application of investigative techniques.
During the joint session, all pending FATF related bills were presented by Prime Minister’s Advisor for Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan. This included the Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Property Bill, 2020, the Money Laundering Bill (Second Amendment), 2020, and the Counter Terrorism Bill (Third Amendment). ), 2020.
Prime Minister Khan was present in the House in a rare appearance to show his support for the passage of the bills.
The Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Property Bill 2020 aims for proper management, supervision and administration of waqf properties within the territorial limits of the country’s capital.
The Anti-Money Laundering Bill (Second Amendment), 2020, aims to streamline existing anti-money laundering law in accordance with international standards prescribed by the FATF.
At the start of the session, President of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari requested permission from President Asad Qaiser to speak. But the request was denied, prompting many opposition leaders, including PML-N opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, to step down.
Pakistan must adhere to a 27-point action plan to avoid being blacklisted by the FATF as a non-compliant country.
Last month, Khan’s government passed several laws and designated more than 100 people as terrorists, in its effort to evade a possible blacklist.
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