ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi yesterday said the government cannot make the accountability process “useless” by accepting the unreasonable demands of the opposition.

Speaking at a press conference along with Advisor on Interior and Accountability Shahzad Akbar and Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice, Maleeka Bukhari at the capital, the FM said the opposition had its own interests and wished to cover up 14 years of wrongdoings.

“We are ready to listen to their reasonable proposals but the opposition should listen and speak with patience and courage. The government will not be blackmailed on FATF (Financial Action Task Force) laws; we are ready to discuss NAB (National Accountability Bureau) rules,” he added.

Qureshi said if the demands of the opposition were accepted, the whole process of accountability would become useless. “We don’t want to harass anyone but we will not spare the corrupt elements,” he maintained.

Earlier in the day, the National Assembly approved the Anti-Terrorism Act amendment bill tabled by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan as the opposition members tore up copies of the agenda.

We believe in accountability without discrimination. If I have done nothing wrong, I should have no fear

FM Qureshi said he would not repeat what was said in the Parliament. “Khawaja Mohammed Asif (Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz leader) blamed me for mockery. However, Prime Minister Imran Khan has been saying for 22 years that we will clean the country of corruption and this is a firm stand. We will also crackdown on corrupt elements,” he contended. The Foreign Minister said his hands were clean. “Our intentions are clear. The 34 amendments of the opposition are unacceptable. We believe in accountability without discrimination. If I have done nothing wrong, I should have no fear,” he remarked. Qureshi said that he requested the opposition for cooperation in the FATF laws but their willingness was conditional.

“We presented the draft to the opposition but they did not like it. The opposition was demanding 34 amendments to the NAB rules. The condition of the opposition was that if government wants to make laws on FATF, and then they should accept the amendments on NAB rules,” he elaborated. 

Qureshi said the meeting was boycotted by the opposition but the doors are never closed in politics.

The FM said India wanted to push Pakistan from the FATF grey list to the blacklist. “If we get blacklisted, global sanctions could be imposed which could have dire consequences,” he added.  He said the government had introduced 11 bills to legislate to meet the requirements of FATF, adding the government wanted cooperation of the opposition on these bills for the sake of Pakistan. 

The minister said the government had requested the opposition to sit together, identify areas and legislate on the FATF issues. Qureshi said the government and opposition started talks on the bills in a 25 member parliamentary committee formed with the support of Chairman Senate and Speaker National Assembly.

The opposition, he said, wanted to reduce the tenure of Chairman NAB, remove money laundering from the list of cognizable offenses and link money laundering with the law of witnesses. 

Qureshi said he had no doubt about the patriotism of parties in the opposition and both the government and the opposition wanted the sword of FATF grey list to be lifted from Pakistan.