Pakistan parliament passes crucial FATF related bills

Our Staff Reporter

Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan called it a day when his government on Wednesday managed to pass three crucial Financial Action Task Force (FATF) related laws in a joint session of the Parliament that was marred by the opposition’s protests.

200 members of Parliament voted in favour of bill with 190 opposing it.

Earlier government’s attempts faced formidable challenge as the opposition-dominated upper house obstructs two relevant bills by ruling Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI). Islamabad races against time to get away from the FATF blacklist and remove its name from the grey list. Pakistan has been on the grey list since June 2018, and the government issued a final warning in February to complete the remaining action points by June 2020.

 The FATF extended the June deadline to September due to the spread of Coronavirus that interrupted the FATF plenary sessions.Last month, Pakistan’s Senate rejected two bills relating to the stringent conditions set by the FATF, challenging the government’s attempts to avoid being blacklisted by the Global Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Watchdog. 

Opposition political parties, including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), argued that FATF related legislation aimed more at tightening the screws on Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan ‘s perceived political opponents than fulfilling the criteria of the FATF. “PM Imran Khan’s bid to avoid FATF blacklisting upended by the opposition in an exercise of mutual self-destruction,” Asia Times reported.  

In a last-ditch to clear the FATF related legislation that were blocked by the opposition last month, President Arif Alvi summoned a joint sitting of parliament on Wednesday, Dawn reported citing sources.  The country is facing the difficult task of clearing its name from the FATF grey list. Pakistan is making attempts to avoid a demotion from the FATF grey list to the blacklist during the upcoming October plenary meeting. While Pakistan tries to showcase its ‘efforts’ in combating terrorism, there have been reports from Afghanistan giving ample evidence of the presence of Pakistani terrorists on its land. In recent weeks, Pakistan has been trying to paint a picture that it has started the reforms including the passing of bills in order to prevent blacklisting by the FATF.  

In late July, Pakistan Financial Monitoring Unit Director-General Lubna Farooq told the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance that the country is yet to comply with 13 conditions out of the 27-point Action Plan of the FATF including curbing terror financing, enforcement of the laws against the proscribed organisations and improving the legal systems.

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