ISLAMABAD - The Senate on Wednesday passed another two FATF-related bills with a sizeable majority amid opposition from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), with the treasury and the major opposition parties developing a consensus in the “national interest.” 

However, this consensus proved to be short lived, ending in a verbal spat between the government and the opposition, both holding each other responsible for increased money laundering and extremism in the country in the past.

The house passed the Limited Liability Partnership (Amendment) Bill 2020 and the Companies (Amendment) Bill 2020, with amendments, as a pre-condition to get Pakistan’s name off the grey list of Financial Action Task Force, the global anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing watchdog. 

After the State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan introduced both the bills one by one on behalf of adviser to PM on finance, the house immediately adopted both with amendments proposed by Senators Farooq H Naek and Imamuddin Shouqeen, the two PPP lawmakers.

Both the bills would now go back to the National Assembly for their final approval before becoming laws.  

During the on-going session, the Senate has passed five FATF-related bills with the Islamabad Capital Territory Trust Bill 2020 and the Control of Narcotic Substances (Amendment) Bill 2020 adopted on Tuesday, and the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2020 on Monday. 

Only JI and JUI-F oppose legislation

The National Assembly had already passed these five bills following the incorporation of a number of amendments suggested by the opposition parties. The two bills, passed on Wednesday, by the upper house were lying pending with the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and it took some time to clear these. 

Soon after the passage of the bills, JUI-F and JI criticised the PTI government and major opposition parties, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for passing the FATF-related legislation. They said that the FATF bills were passed in haste under the pressure of the anti-money laundering watchdog and other international forces, and questioned what the urgency behind their passage was. 

JUI-F Senator Maulana Attaur Rehman said that the government and the major opposition parties again “pushed the nation towards slavery putting the future of the country at stake” with the passage of these bills. “We did not bow before the international forces but this was not comprehensible why the government was forced to get the laws passed and why the major opposition supported this move?” he said.  

JI Senator Mushtaq Ahmed opposing the bills said that Pakistan had been “pledged” to international forces with the passage of the laws and the country’s “integrity, and sovereignty had been compromised.” He objected that the chair did not entertain his party’s amendments on the bills. 

Appreciating that the government and the opposition had worked above party lines in the interest of state to pass these bills, the Leader of House Dr Shahzad Waseem said that decision were done with “wisdom and respect and not with emotions.” 

“Pakistan was in the grey list before PTI came into power,” he said adding that this was a gift given to them by previous governments. He said that Pakistan was in the grey list due to its weak regime to controlling money laundering and terrorism. He in an oblique reference to PPP said that the leadership of a party has been appearing before courts in connection with money laundering and fake accounts cases against them. 

On this, the lawmakers of PPP including Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar objected over the remarks and interrupted the speech of Senator Waseem. 

PPP Senator Quratulain Marri chided the leader of house for holding the opposition responsible for terrorism saying it was Prime Minister Imran Khan who had called Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as “martyr.” She termed his speech a “comedy on money laundering” saying that foreign funding case against PTI was still pending with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). 

The parliamentary leader of PML-N in the Senate Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan in his remarks said that the federal ministers were giving impression of unity during their joint press conferences on competition of two years of government contrary to the fact they have been found scuffling with one another in cabinet meetings.