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Pakistan clears FATF legal hurdles

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ISLAMABAD:

The country’s parliament on Wednesday completed the legislation needed to remove the country from the gray list of money laundering and terrorist financing from the gray list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) by approving three bills in a joint two-house session between a noisy protests by opposition lawmakers.

In addition to the three laws related to the FATF – Draft Law on Territorial Waqf Properties Capital Islamabad, 2020; Draft Law Against Money Laundering (Second Amendment), 2020; and the Draft Anti-Terrorism Law (Third Amendment) 2020 – five other draft laws were also adopted during the joint session.

Between February and September, parliament amended 10 acts through 13 bills as part of Pakistan’s efforts to move out of the Paris-based financial watchdog gray list in line with its 27-point Action Plan.

Speaking to the Express Tribune, Federal Law Minister Farogh Naseem confirmed that after the joint session Pakistan had “completed all FATF-related legislation ahead of schedule”.

“There were no changes required for now,” he said, adding that Pakistan would pass new laws or further amend existing ones if required in the future.

The FATF had placed Pakistan on its gray list in June 2018 and had asked Islamabad to implement the action plan by the end of 2019 but later extended the deadline due to the Covid-19 pandemic and delays in part of the country for meet the requirements.

The joint session, chaired by National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, was attended by Prime Minister Imran Khan, National Assembly Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, PML Senior Vice President Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Jamaat -e- Chief Islami Sirajul Haq and PPP Senator Raza Rabbani among others.

While the Advisor to the Prime Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr. Babar Awan introduced the Waqf 2020 Property Market Bill, which was initially passed by a majority vote, the opposition demanded a vote count. After counting the votes, the mayor announced that the bill had been approved with 200 members voting in his favor and 190 against.

While PTI MNA Maleeka Bokhari was reading the proposed amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Draft (Second Amendment) clauses, opposition lawmakers staged a departure.

The Draft Anti-Money Laundering Law (Second Amendment) and the Anti-Terrorism Law (Amendment) were later adopted without any objection.

Territorial Waqf Property Law The capital Islamabad, 2020 aims at the proper management, supervision and administration of waqf properties within the territorial boundaries of ICT.

The Anti-Money Laundering Draft Law (Second Amendment), 2020 aims to restructure the existing anti-money laundering law in line with the international standards prescribed by the FATF.

The Draft Anti-Terrorism Law (Third Amendment) has introduced Section 19-C in the law regarding the application of investigative techniques. It gives espionage powers to investigators and allows them to conduct covert operations, eavesdrop on communications, and use computer systems with court permission.

Earlier in the day, the Senate rejected the Anti-Terrorism Bill (Third Amendment) by 31 votes in favor and 34 against, a day after it was approved by the National Assembly.

The other five bills that were approved during the joint session included the Draft Law on Surveillance and Mapping (Amendment), 2020, the Law on the High Court of Islamabad (Amendment), 2019, the Act on ICT Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2020, Medical Tribunal Act, 2019 and Pakistan Medical Commission Act, 2019.



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