ISLAMABAD - The Senate is all set to pass two Financial Action Task Force-related bills today (Thursday) after the opposition on Wednesday surprisingly agreed to support the proposed laws in the “national interest” and without any “give and take” option.

The Senate Standing Committee on Law will quickly vet these bills before these will be put to vote in the opposition-dominated house for passage today as the government struggles to get them passed from the parliament to meet the requirements of the global anti-money laundering and terror financing watchdog.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan introduced both the bills — the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and the United Nations (Security Council) (Amendment) Bill, 2020 - in the house before these were referred to committee.

Earlier, the opposition severely criticized the government for laying six ordinances before the house. It said that the government has made the parliament redundant by making most of legislation through presidential ordinances. It also came down hard on the government for laying the International Court of Justice (Review and Re-consideration) Ordinance, 2020 that sought to give right to appeal to Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav against his conviction by a military court.

“We are passing these (FATF-related) laws in the national interest,” said Senator Sherry Rehman, the parliamentary leader of PPP in the house. She said that the opposition did not need that law governing the NAB should be amended and the government was wrong in saying that the opposition wanted an under hand deal like NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) in return for supporting the FATF-related bills.

She also questioned why the government was making most of legislation through ordinances when both the houses were in session? “The government is giving disregard to the parliament again and again and undermining its role,” she said.

“We are not contesting the law regarding Indian spy but the government should have shared it with the parliament earlier,” the PPP lawmaker said adding that now people were making wrong interpretations of this move.

Former Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani speaking on the issue said that it looked that the parliament had become a puppet and its strings were being pulled from the outside. He said that the historical decisions of parliament in the past had strengthened the federation as it stood against then dictatorships of General (retd) Zialul Haq and General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.

Rabbani said that it was even tolerable that the strings of the parliament were being pulled from inside but it looked that now these had gone into the hands of international establishment and imperialists. “Is this a fact that this ordinance is being introduced to facilitate a person that is an Indian spy and a terrorist?”

Terming the global money laundering watchdog as part of the international establishment, former chairman Senate said that fundamental rights of Pakistanis were being usurped on its dictation.

“But I happen to be tightened by ropes and will start dancing when my strings are pulled”, he remarked indicating that he would vote against his conscience again in favour of the two FATF related bills.

PML-N Javed Abbasi said the President has limited power to promulgate ordinances under Article 89 of the Constitution. He said these powers were not discretionary in nature and could be exercised only when the parliament was not in session.

He regretted that the ordinances were not brought before the parliament for months and implementation on them started soon after being signed taking away the parliament’s right to legislate. He said the ordinances were not laid before the senate particularly for the fear of their disapproval by the house.

Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami Senator Sirajul Haq said that promulgation of ordinances when both the houses were in session amounted to no-trust against the constitution.

He said Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan, who had entered Pakistan’s airspace to attack a Pakistani jet had been freed within 24 hours and now efforts were being made to facilitate Kulbhushan.

Winding up the debate, Law Minister Barrister Farogh Naseem defended President’s powers to promulgate an ordinance and said that no ordinance had been promulgated while the parliament was in session.

He said that Senator Rabbani was unfair to say his that either their strings were in the hands of IMF, FATF and international imperialists or Pakistan was facilitating the Indian spy. He said the ordinance had been promulgated in accordance with the judgment of ICJ. “Are you saying that we don’t need to accept the decision of ICJ?”

The law minister admitted that the United States had refused to accept a judgment of ICJ, but questioned “Can Pakistan afford this?”

He said that the requirements of FATF were also applicable for all countries as it reviewed their anti-money laundering laws.

“If Pakistan doesn’t want to become a rogue state and has to become an internationally responsible state, then we would have to accept decisions of ICJ and also to fulfill requirements of FATF,” he stressed.

He reminded that Rabbani had voted in favour of establishment of military courts at his own will with a heavy heart. He also said that Pakistan had won 80 percent of the case in ICJ and lauded then PML-N government to contest the case in the international court.

The law minister said that if the government didn’t bring law to give right to appeal to Kulbhushan, India could approach UN Security Council against Pakistan.