ISLAMABAD – Three important bills to meet the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to bring Pakistan out of the grey-list were passed during the Joint Session of the Parliament on Wednesday.
The bills moved by Advisor on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan, include: “The Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill” and “The Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020”, while “The Anti-Terrorism (Third Amendment) Bill, 2020 was tabled by Faheem Khan.
According to the statement of subjects and reasons, “The Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill, 2020” is aimed at proper management, supervision, and administration of Waqf properties in the territorial limits of Islamabad Capital Territory.”
“The Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020” is aimed at streamlining the existing anti money laundering law in line with international standards prescribed by FATF. It reflects government’s firm resolve to strengthen its Anti-Money Laundering regime.
“The Anti-Terrorism (Third Amendment) Bill, 2020” is essential to address the issue of terror financing, one of the major obstacles which is not only playing a degrading role against the development of the country but also imbuing such elements with the financial means which are an ultimate threat to the internal and external peace of the country.
It enables the law enforcement authorities to take certain encountering techniques with an authoritative support of the courts of law to curb terror financing. The Joint sitting also passed “The Surveying and Mapping (Amendment) Bill, 2020” and “The Islamabad High Court (Amendment) Bill, 2019”.
Major objective of “The Surveying and Mapping (Amendment) Bill, 2020” is to stop and prohibiting printing, displaying, dissemination or using incorrect and unofficial map of Pakistan. “The Islamabad High Court (Amendment) Bill, 2019” is aimed at increasing the number of judges in IHC from seven to ten, including the Chief Justice to overcome difficulties of the litigant public qua early disposal of long pending cases.
Other bills passed by the Joint Sitting of the Parliament include “Pakistan Medical Commission Bill, 2019”, “The Medical Tribunal Bill, 2019” and “The ICT Rights of Persons with Disability Bill, 2020”.
At the start of the Joint Session, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan tabled the Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill 2020. The opposition parties opposed the bill but it was approved with majority. The bill was passed with 200 members voting in favour and 190 voting against it.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani raised objections over Babar Awan tabling the bill. He said under the court ruling, the advisers were not authorised to move bills in the assembly.
The government in Wednesday’s National Assembly sitting managed to refer ‘The Anti-Terrorism (Third Amendment) Bill, 2020’ to the joint sitting of the Parliament for consideration and passage.
The Opposition, with the onset of the proceedings, suspended the house by pointing out lack of required quorum in the House. The House remained suspended for over one-hour and later the government rushed to refer the bill to the joint sitting for its approval.
PML-N’s Parliamentary leader Khawaja Muhammad Asif said that the House remained suspended for over one-hour. “It can’t be run Constitutionally, as house was not in session for last one-hour,” he said.
Another PML-N’s senior member/ former Speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq said that the government should not damage the sanctity of the house.
“Really, I don’t feel comfortable to attend the house. Please respect the sanctity of the house,” he said. The Opposition members also left the House in protest.
Advisor to PM on Parliamentary Affairs Dr.Babar Awan said that the house would run according to the rules and procedure. “Nobody can make hostage and run the house as per the wishes. There was no anomaly as the chair has the discretion to suspend the house,” he said, quoting the rules and procedures.
He made the remarks following the Opposition parties staged walk out from the House after exchanging harsh words with the Treasury benches over the issue of quorum in the House.