Imperative legislation related to Pakistan’s compliance with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) remains in a deadlock in the parliament. After some weeks of obstruction of the bills in the Senate, the government has opted to adopt a more conciliatory approach to get the legislation passed, by forming an ‘informal’ committee comprising government and opposition lawmakers to meet on Monday to try to end a deadlock on four bills.

These bills will have to be made law. Pakistan has been given a deadline of September 30 to submit a compliance report to FATF—the terrorism financing watchdog has already noted the many expirations of deadlines for Pakistan’s action plan. The government should focus on carefully considering, with an open mind, the content of the bills, to see which clauses are essential to the action plan, and try to find a middle ground to persuade opposition members to get on board with the FATF bills and make them law.

For example, one of the opposition’s contentions is an amendment to Section 156-C of the CrPC, which empowers the investigation officer to “use techniques including but not limited to undercover operations, intercepting communications…for investigation of offences of money laundering, associated predicate offences and financing of terrorism…”. The opposition has also voiced concerns about amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA). These disagreements should be considered seriously by the government, to see how essential they are to comply with the FATF. In the 27-point action plan recommended by FATF, Pakistan has already been declared compliant on 14 points, one of which includes parallel investigations by Counter Terrorism Departments (CTDs). This does lend credibility to the opposition’s questioning the necessity of the use of techniques like undercover operations and intercepting communication, which could lead to potential privacy concerns. However, their objections to the AMLA amendments would merit more scrutiny, considering effective implementation of remedial actions and sanctions applied in cases of AML/CFT violations has been identified by FATF as one of the 13 points still required for compliance.

These are serious, thorough discussions to be had, putting politics aside. This compliance report needs to be sent on time, and parliamentarians from both sides of the aisle should attend this upcoming meeting with a conciliatory, open-minded approach.