ISLAMABAD - The National Assembly yesterday passed a law that prohibits holding of property in benami [on others names] inside and outside the country, and devises strict punishments for the violators.

They same day, opposition parties tried and failed to move a resolution in the house against US President Donald Trump’s ban on immigrants from seven Muslim countries.

The opposition parties, especially the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, made all-out efforts to take the floor to move its motion against the US President but the chair did not allow them.

“Without informing the chair, the resolution cannot be moved. At least you take the government side into confidence,” said Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi while disallowing PTI MNA Arif Alvi to move the resolution against the Trump’s move.

Earlier, five bills, including the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Bill, 2017 were passed in the house. The Benami bill would prohibit holding of property in benami [on others names] inside and outside the country. The bill has already been passed by Upper House of parliament.

This legislation provides restriction to recover or transfer property held in benami and provides mechanism and procedure for confiscation of property held in this way. According to the bill, it will also deal with the problem of tax evasion and black money, especially in the real estate sector. Special courts would be formed to deal with offences under this law.

The draft of the bill says, “The person found guilty of ‘benami’ transaction or holding such property shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for one to seven years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to 25 percent of the fair market value of the property”. Any property, which is subject matter of benami transaction, shall be liable to be confiscated by the federal government.

The house also passed the National Commission on the Rights of the Child Bill, 2015, which provides for establishment of an independent commission to monitor, protect and promote the rights of the child.

According to the bill, “The Commission headed by a chairperson and having ex-officio members and six members would examine existing or proposed legislation and administrative instruments, laws and practices regarding rights of child.

“The Commission shall also have powers to inquire into complaints of violations of child rights and may also call for information or report from the Federal Government and civil society organizations. It shall have powers vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.”

The house also passed ‘The Explosive Substance (Amendment) Bill, 2016’, which deal to amend section-7 of the Explosive Substance Act, 1908.

Another bill, ‘The Companies (Appointment of Legal Advisers) (Amendment Act), 2016 was also passed.

Other bills introduced in the house were ‘The Apprenticeship Bill, 2017’, ‘the Pakistan Tobacco Board (Amendment) Bill, 2017’ and ‘the Public Interest Disclosures Bill, 2017’.

Move against Trump

During the session, Dr Shireen Mazari from PTI, without taking the floor, for the umpteenth time asked the chair to allow them to move a resolution in the house against US President’s move. She also made a mockery of the government for allegedly showing cowardice.

“Are you (government) afraid of moving the resolution against the US President,” she said, after failing to get the floor. Mazari also made attempt to convince the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs to join hands with opposition to move the resolution but he ostensibly paid no attention.

PTI MNA Arif Alvi, on point of order, said that the Trump’s move will deteriorate situation in the USA. “This move will create unrest in America,” said Alvi, asking the speaker to conduct debate on it. He suggested that the government should summon the US Ambassador and register its protest.

“It is an issue of all Muslims... the government should also join hands with opposition to move the resolution against US President,” said a PTI member. He remarked that people all over the world took to streets, protesting the Trump administration’s unjust step. He also tried to read out the resolution draft but Deputy Speaker Murtaza Abbasi switched off his mike.

A copy of resolution made available with The Nation says the Trump administration’s move to ban immigrants and refugees from seven different Muslim countries is a violation of human rights and is racist in nature.

“This targeting of Muslims will increase and intensify polarisation and hatred globally. This house calls on the government to raise its voice [against this move] on all international forums as well as bilaterally with the US government,” the resolution read.

Harassment of PTV anchors

Responding to the call-attention notice about harassment against female anchorpersons in PTV, Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb informed the house that an inquiry committee has been formed to probe the matter.

She said the incumbent government will adopt zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment of women at workplace. “The government stands by to protect the rights of women,” the minister said.

She added the ban placed on female anchors was only related to disciplinary action. “While the enquiry was under process, they (complainants) went to a private channel to raise voice so action was taken [by the PTV administration],” she claimed.