Pakistan: Opposition-dominated Senate blocks another FATF-related bill

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Senate on Wednesday rejected the Anti-Terrorism Act (amendment) Bill, 2020, a day after it was passed by the lower house, making it the third Financial Action Task Force-related legislation to have been blocked by the Opposition-dominated upper house.
Thirty-one members voted in favour of the bill on terror financing while 34 opposed it, Dawn reported.
According to the bill, the investigating officer, with the permission of the court, can conduct covert operations to detect terrorism funding, track communications and computer system by applying latest technologies in 60 days. The court may extend the period for another 60 days.
The bill said funding for terrorism was a major obstacle in the country’s development and a source of disgrace to it.
Terrorism funding was benefiting those elements which were not only a threat to internal and external peace of the country but also its allies, it said.
Last month, the Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Waqf Properties Bill, were rejected by Pakistan’s Opposition-dominated Senate last month, jeopardising the government’s efforts to escape from being blacklisted by the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog.
The legislations were part of efforts by Pakistan to move from the FATF’s grey list to the white list.
The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force put Pakistan on the grey list in June 2018 and asked Islamabad to implement a plan of action to curb money laundering and terror financing by the end of 2019 but the deadline was extended later on due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, President Arif Alvi has called a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament on Wednesday evening where the government will try to get the three FATF-related bills passed, the paper said, citing sources.
Under the 18th Amendment, if a bill passed by one house of Parliament is rejected by the other, it can become a law only if it is passed by a joint sitting of the two houses.
With Pakistan”s continuation in the ”grey list”, it will be difficult for the country to get financial aid from the IMF, World Bank, ADB, and the European Union, thus further enhancing problems for the nation which is in a precarious financial situation. (PTI)

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