ISLAMABAD: The joint session of Parliament on Wednesday approved legislation regarding the fulfillment of the conditions of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) by a majority of votes amid strong protest by opposition parties after the rejection of their amendments.
Opposition parties, after failing to block the passage of bills despite a majority, ousted the House after rejecting changes made by PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and JI Senator Mushtaq Ahmad.
Opposition benches also staged strong protests after the mayor refused to give the floor to change activists and Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif. Protesters tore up copies of the bills and surrounded the speakers, calling on Parliament Ko Azad Karo and Speaker Ko Azad Karo.
About 36 members of the opposition and 16 of the treasury banks were absent during the proceedings. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Senator Mushtaq accused the mayor of violating the rules by not allowing them to talk about their changes.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi asked the speaker that the way he was conducting the proceedings was not increasing the prestige of parliament. He said first the change driver should be allowed to speak.
However, the speaker continued reading the bill while rejecting objections raised by opposition lawmakers. I am running the procedures according to the rules, he said. Earlier, the opposition challenged the approval of the motion to move the Waqf Property Bill of the Capital Territory Islamabad, 2020. However, counting, the opposition suffered a defeat by 200 to 190 votes.
The chairman wanted to give the floor to PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, but he was opposed by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. He said since Bilawal Bhutto was not the proposer of any change, therefore, he could not be given the floor. He also objected to giving the floor Shahbaz Sharif.
Law Minister Farogh Naseem also dismissed an objection from former Senate Speaker Raza Rabbani who said Dr Babar Awan being an adviser could not move the bill and he could only help the House. The law minister said that according to the ruling of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), an adviser could not just exercise his right to vote in the House.
Raza Rabbani said that currently the portfolio of the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs is with the Prime Minister himself. Opposition parties ousted the House during the passage of the Money Laundering Bill (Second Amendment 2020) giving the government a hand in passing the rest of the bills and including more legislative business as an additional agenda.
The crucial FATF-related bills approved by the joint session Wednesday include the Islamabad 2020 Capital Territory Waqf Property bill, the Bill Against Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill 2020 and the Anti-Terrorism Bill (Third Amendment) Bill 2020 .
The joint session also passed the Draft Law on Surveying and Mapping (Amendment) 2019, the Islamabad High Court Law (Amendment) 2019, the ICT Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2020, the Bill of the Pakistan Medical Commission 2019 and the Draft Law of the Tribunal Medical 2019.
The Anti-Money Laundering Bill (Second Amendment) Bill 2020 aims to guide the existing anti-money laundering law in line with the international standards prescribed by the FATF. The Anti-Money Laundering Act (Second Amendment), 2020 will provide for the federal government to form a committee to be known as the National Executive Committee. The committee will make recommendations to the federal government on the effective implementation of this act and the formulation of national policy to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. He would also make recommendations to the federal government on implementing countermeasures as required by the FATF to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
The National Executive Committee to be chaired by the Minister of Finance or the Finance Adviser will consist of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Justice and Justice, Division of Economic Affairs, Interior, Director General (Communication) ISI, DG Military Intelligence, Governor of State Bank, SECP Chairman, DG Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) and DG FATF Cell as its members.
According to bill details, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FIA), the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the FMU, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the Federal Revenue Board (FBR) will be money laundering investigators. .
The penalty in money laundering cases will be up to 10 years and will also be punished with a fine that can last up to 25 million Rs and will also be mandatory for confiscation of money involved in money laundering or property of appropriate value. . The fine can last up to Rs 100 million in the case of a legal entity. Any director, officer or employee of such a legal person, who is also found guilty under this article, shall also be punished.
The 2020 Anti-Terrorism Bill (Third Amendment) was approved by the National Assembly on Tuesday but was rejected by the Senate only on Wednesday. Once it becomes an act of Parliament, it will allow an investigating officer with the permission of the court to use techniques using covert operations, interception of communications, computer system access and controlled distribution to investigate terrorist financing within 60 days from the leave according to the law in force.
According to the statement of the subjects and reasons, the Law of Waqf Property of the Territory of the Capital Islamabad 2020 aims at the proper management, supervision and administration of the Waqf properties within the territorial boundaries of the Territory of the Capital Islamabad.
The main objective of the Draft Law on Surveillance and Mapping (Amendment) 2020 is to ban and prohibit the printing, display, distribution or use of inaccurate and unofficial maps of Pakistan.
The Islamabad High Court (Amendment) 2019 bill aims to increase the number of judges at the IHC from seven to 10, including the chief prosecutor, to overcome the difficulties of early resolution of long-awaited litigation.
Meanwhile, the opposition said all parliamentary traditions were violated in the joint session of both houses of Parliament.
Opposition leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif slammed President Asad Qaiser for not letting opposition leaders speak during the joint session.
“Assad Qaiser did not allow a debate on our proposed changes,” said Shahbaz, who was accompanied by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and other opposition lawmakers.
Shahbaz said the “real changes” to the bills were not fun, adding that he would record a strong protest against the speaker for not allowing him to speak.
“I even went to (the place) where the speaker sits with his staff and asked him to let me speak. Neither he answered me nor allowed me to speak, which I think is a very non-parliamentary attitude, he said.
The PML-N chairman said it was a “black day” in the history of Parliament because of the way the opposition was treated, adding that the opposition would mutually decide what action to take against the speaker. He also alleged fraud in the vote count.
Eliminating the impression that opposition parties wanted the NRO, Shahbaz said leaders Rana Sanaullah, former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Khursheed Shah of the PPP were already targeted by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and they were fighting issues registered against them with courage.
Addressing the press conference after Shahbaz, Bilawal also criticized the speaker for not allowing the opposition leader in the National Assembly to speak.
“It is not the speaker ‘s right to stop the opposition leader from speaking in Parliament,” he said. “The head of the opposition or the head of the house can speak whenever he wants,” he said.
Bilawal said senior opposition leaders, who had also been lawmakers in parliament during the Musharraf and Ziaul Haq eras, said they had never seen such undemocratic practices before.
“Following the IHC decision, legislation could not be introduced by an advisor,” he said, regretting that the speaker was not “willing to hear this argument.”
Referring to the government’s changes to the Anti-Money Laundering Bill, the PPP chairman said that now, the police did not need an order to arrest anyone. He said he had never seen such an undemocratic attitude.
Bilawal said the opposition was already bearing the brunt of NAB austerity tactics, adding that these new changes would have a negative impact on the country’s business community and, as a result, on the economy.
JUI-F parliamentary leader Maulana Asad Mehmood said there is no legal and constitutional status to what happened in the joint session of Parliament.
He said the country’s democratic forces were being pushed behind the wall. Earlier during the Senate session, the joint opposition blocked an Anti-Terrorism Bill (Amendment) related to FATF, 2020, after they rejected the bill with 34 votes against treasures 31 votes. The bill was approved by the National Assembly the day before.
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