ISLAMABAD - The Senate Thursday passed two important bills with some amendments in a move to fulfill the requirements of Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global anti-money laundering watchdog, to get Pakistan’s name off its grey list.

The opposition-dominated house passed the bills with majority of votes while Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) was the only opposition party that opposed the proposed laws.

Adviser to PM on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan moved the Anti-terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2020 and the United Nations (Security Council) (Amendment) Bill 2020 before the house after a house committee approved both the bills with some amendments.

Chairman of Senate Law Committee Senator Javed Abbasi, on the floor of the house, said that the committee through amendments had removed some lacunae in the proposed laws to ensure that these were not misused against the citizens of Pakistan. The committee supported that the laws should be passed as these were the requirement of FATF, he added.

The bills seek to strengthen the provisions to effectively implement the resolutions of UN Security Council imposing sanctions of assets freeze, arms embargo and travel ban on the entities and individuals, and asking the member states to take counter terrorism measures, especially for countering the financing of terrorism, through domestic laws.

Opposition-dominated house passes bills with majority of votes

Soon after passage of the bills, JUI-F Senator Moulana Attaur Rehman criticized the two major opposition parties, PPP and PML-N, in the house for supporting the government on the bills. “They have never sided with the opposition and gave way to the government to get the bills passed.” He said that his party had a stance that the resolutions of UNSC could not be used as a witness against any offence but they were neither heard in the house nor in the committee. “Are we enemies of this country?” he asked.

He said that these two opposition parties never tried to unite the opposition and added that JUI-F was not ready to move ahead along with them in future.

Following this, Foreign Affairs Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaking in the house said that now the Senate had proven that it was a “mature house and has wisdom and ability” to work for national interest by keeping aside political differences. “Today the political parties of Pakistan have demonstrated maturity,” he said while appreciating the role of political parties.

He said that the opposition including PML-N, PPP and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), and treasury benches today had “defeated India’s designs” of having Pakistan blacklisted by the FATF. He explained that India for a long time was trying to “push Pakistan to the blacklist” of the global watchdog to face economic sanctions.

“We are trying to remove Pakistan’s name from the grey list and today you have played a part in these efforts,” said the foreign minister.

He added that they might have had many differences, but they were all one when it came to national issues.

He said that JUI-F should have reviewed its position as by opposing the bills, they had given the impression that political leadership was divided. He said that governments were temporary but interest of the state was always supreme.

He said that the government with the passing of two bills had fulfilled all requirements of FATF and now there was no reason that its name would remain in the grey list.

On the issue of government’s decision to promulgate an ordinance that seeks to give right to appeal to Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav against his death sentence by a military court, Qureshi said that the government had taken all steps as a responsible state and the spy was not being facilitated any way.

“We through our steps are trying to comply with the verdict of International Court of Justice (ICJ) by giving the spy consular access and the right of review appeal,” he said. He said Pakistan did not want that India use any occasion against it and had given him consular access three times to satisfy the Indian authorities.

“Nothing has been concealed in the matter,” he said while responding to the opposition’s earlier criticism. He said that a summary had been moved to the cabinet followed by an open discussion to promulgate the ordinance.

According to the statements of objects and reasons in the Anti-terrorism bill, “for the purpose of carrying out the mandate of the act with respect to cooperation and information sharing at all levels, especially for countering the financing of terrorism, the definition of term ‘person’ is being introduced,”.

The amendment in the ‘United Nations Security Council (Amendment) Bill 2020’ was related to putting the word ‘UN Pakistani entity’ .