ISLAMABAD: National Assembly has passed a bill in order to meet FATF’s requirements regarding exchange of intelligence about alleged terrorists and such people incarcerated in various facilities, here today.
Initially the opposition attempted to stop the bill’s passage but was defeated by 87-83 votes. PPP-P’s Syed Naveed Qamar while commenting on the passage of the bill, termed it against the fundamental rights of the citizens of Pakistan. PPP-P leader further claimed that after its passage the government would be able to seek information from foreign countries and extradite its own citizens.
Pointing out that the bill had given unfettered powers to the Federal Government, he noted that countries did not entertain any request from the Pakistan government to hand over any wanted person to it because of the perception that cases were filed on a political basis in Pakistan. He warned that following the passage of bill the federal interior secretary would be able to get data about foreign bank accounts and transactions made by any citizen. He stressed on the importance of protecting the rights of citizens while fulfilling the requirements of FATF.
PPP-P’s Abdul Qadir Patel said that the bill would allow government to hand over individuals to countries even sans demand. PPP MNA Shazia Marri pointing towards spelling mistakes in the draft said the bill was passed in a haste.
Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar and Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry defended the bill and criticized the opposition for creating unnecessary hurdles. Fawad Chaudhry accused the previous PML-N and PPP-P governments of putting the country into the snare of FATF. Asad Umar held that Pakistan’s sovereignty was compromised due to money laundering carried out by PPP-P and PML-N. He stated that in the past they used to hand over terrorists to other countries after receiving calls from their capitals.
The draft of the bill maintains: “This Act shall regulate the procedure for rendering and soliciting mutual legal assistance in criminal matters by Islamic Republic of Pakistan subject to the provisions of this Act, the mutual legal assistance may be provided by Islamic Republic of Pakistan to a country on the basis of an agreement or reciprocal arrangement.
“Where the federal government considers it expedient to provide mutual legal assistance in a criminal matter to a country which has not entered into an agreement or reciprocal arrangement with Islamic Republic of Pakistan, it may, by notification in the official Gazette, direct that the provisions of this Act shall, subject to such modifications and conditions as may be specified therein, have effect to that country.
“Where the central authority considers it expedient, it may initiate transmitting of any information relating to criminal matters confidentially to the appropriate authority in a country concerned with such criminal matters, without prior request by that country.”
However, the bill has yet to get green signal by Senate (where opposition happens to have a majority).