Double standard on legislative business
Opposition often criticise the government for taking an easy course of legislations through promulgation of ordinances at point of time when parliament is in session. The contention is correct under relevant provisions of constitution and established norms of democracy. But the ground reality of non-cooperation of opposition with government cannot be denied, which certainly hinders smooth running of legislative business in the parliament. The opposition negated its constitutional stance by creating pandemonium in the National Assembly when government tabled two most urgent legislations in the National Assembly titled “The Anti-terrorism Bill 2020” and “The United Nations security Council Amendment Bill 2020. The enactment and enforcement of these laws is inevitable to get Pakistan off the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list. It merits mention that India has not hid it intention to push Pakistan from greylist to the black list. The enactment of the legislations will thwart the nefarious designs of India and bear testimony to the fact that Pakistan, being a responsible member of international community, is fully responsive to fulfill its responsibilities, binding on it under the sanctions included in the UNSC Resolutions for curbing the twin menace of money laundering and terror financing.
The required leggislations were passed with a majority vote in the lower house of the parliament with majority vote, during which the opposition lawmakers ‘surrounded the Speakers’ dais and tore away copies of the tabled bills. It may be recalled that government had formed a parliamentary Committee, comprising members from treasury and opposition benches, to reach a consensus on four bills including the ones that pertained to Anti-terrorism law amendment and UNSC Amendment. However, opposition drew linked them with 35 amendments in the NAB Ordinance 1999. They announced boycott of the parliamentary committee and in a media talk PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbassi said that decision on opposition’s cooperation in the required four legislations shall be taken in APC to be held after Eidul Azha. No firm date has been announced for the APC, whereas FATF action plan and UNSC Resolution related two laws needed to be enacted before August 6. These laws envisage fulfillment of various requirement of the international watchdog aimed at curbing the twin menace of money laundering and terrorism financing. The enforcement of the laws will pave the way for Pakistan to get off the greylist on which it was put in June 2018 as a result of denial mode policy of last PML-N government and lambasting statements of its interior minister on country’s grey-listing. If the proposed legislations are passed by the Senate, Government authorities will be then able to smoothly implement various measures included in the UNSC Resolutions 1267 and 1373.
PPP veteran parliamentarian and top legal brain on constitutional matters, Senator Raza Rabbani, while referring in his speech in Senate to the passage of these laws by the lower house of the parliament, said that it will give strings of powers in the hands of international establishment, of which FATF is an integral part. The global watchdog on money laundering and terror financing will be then able to pressurize the government to move the handle of these laws for trampling the constitutional and fundamental rights of the people. The argument cannot be totally denied. Jermy Hunt, British Foreign Secretary in Theresa May Cabinet had refused to entertain Pakistan’s request for the extradition of Ishaq Dar, money laundering guru of PML-N top leadership. Was it not against the “Financial Crimes Act” which came into force in the UK in September 2017?
Earlier PML-N senior Leader Ahsan Iqbal had rejected the legislations as “Grandfather of NAB Ordinance” and demanded for making public parameters of FATF mandate The mandate is stressing effective and coordinated actions by the concerned authorities against money laundering and terror financing; concrete investigation against the designated persons and entities believed to be involved in terrorism financing; result oriented prosecution against such designated persons and entities; and effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions, buttressed by comprehensive legal obligations, against all designated persons and entities that fall within the purview of sanctions included in the United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
Pakistan is fulfilling its responsibilities and expects that a particular member of FATF will show no hesitation to extend a helping hand for bringing to justice in Pakistan the money laundering heavy weights, to which it has provided refuge.