–Bills passed with majority vote as JUI-F accuses PML-N and PPP of supporting govt on legislation
–Qureshi says Senate has ‘defeated India’s ambitions’ of having Pakistan blacklisted by FATF
ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Thursday approved the much-debated legislation — United Nations (Security Council) (Amendment) Bill 2020, and Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2020 — a day after the National Assembly passed them through a majority voice vote amid fireworks between the treasury and opposition members.
The bills were introduced by the government earlier this year in order to fulfil certain conditions of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on terrorism and bring the country out of the grey list.
Prior to its passage, the UNSC amendment bill was reviewed by the Standing Committee on Law and Justice. The meeting was informed that the bill aims at ensuring the effective implementation of the UNSC resolutions.
According to details, the “implementation of the obligations of the resolutions adopted by the UNSC under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter are fulfilled through the United Nations (Security Council) Act, 1948 (XIV of 1948)”. Under the said Act, “the federal government passes orders, directing relevant authorities to implement various measures stressed upon in the UNSC resolutions, including the freezing and seizure of assets, travel ban and arms embargo”.
During the meeting chaired by committee’s chairperson Senator Javed Abbasi, the government informed the members that the amendments in the bill were in fact demanded by the FATF. Senate secretary informed the committee members that the global anti-terrorism watchdog, after assessing the country’s legal system, proposed amendments in regulations dealing with such cases.
The aforementioned bills were introduced in the Senate on Wednesday evening, which were referred to the committees concerned after the opposition demanded that the parliamentary procedure be followed in letter and spirit.
Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani chaired the session of the Upper House during which Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan presented the United Nations (Security Council) Bill 2020 and the Anti Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2020.
Both bills were passed with a majority vote as Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam–Fazl (JUI-F) voiced its opposition, claiming that the point of view of its lawmakers was not heard. “Are we enemies of the nation?” asked Maulana Attaur Rehman.
Calling out the PPP and the PML-N, he said that both parties have never sided with the opposition and have supported the government.
Speaking on the floor of the House, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said: “Today the Senate has proven that it is a mature forum and can work for national interest by keeping aside political differences.”
He maintained that by passing the two bills, the Senate had “defeated India’s ambitions” of having Pakistan blacklisted by the FATF. “We are trying to remove Pakistan from the grey list and today you have played a part in these efforts.
“We may have many differences, but we are all one when it comes to national issues.”
Governments are temporary, he said, adding that everybody has been on both sides.
“Today the political parties of Pakistan have demonstrated maturity and this is what a statesman has to demonstrate.
“I wish the JUI-F would have reviewed its position. By opposing this bill, they have given the impression that we are divided,” he said, urging the lawmakers to review their objections as the bills had to be sent to the National Assembly once again.
The bills were then sent to the Lower House where they were passed with the amendments made by the Senate. Awan once again presented the bills which were passed by a majority vote.
The JUI-F lawmakers voiced their opposition in NA as well. The session was adjourned till August 7.
Speaking at a press conference earlier in the day, former prime minister and senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that the opposition had proposed changes to the UNSC bill which the government accepted.
“We questioned the definition of ‘person’ in the anti-terrorism bill and that was also accepted. These two bills were decided in about 20 to 25 minutes.”
He added that there was a third bill concerning economic terrorism that was “more horrific than Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir”. “We questioned the need for it and it was dropped,” he said.
He said that the opposition had made it clear that the FATF and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) bills were separate, adding that it was the government that wanted to have four bills passed simultaneously.
The government on Wednesday had managed to get the two FATF-related bills passed by the National Assembly amidst a noisy protest by the opposition.
The bills were passed amid sloganeering from the opposition benches, mainly in protest against Foreign Minister Qureshi’s speech in the assembly on Tuesday in which he had explained the deadlock between the government and the opposition over a number of legislations.
The noisy protest led the NA speaker to suspend proceedings on three occasions: twice when Qureshi refused to speak amid the opposition’s slogans and once soon after the passage of the bills.