Pak passes 2 FATF-related bills; Oppn says bid to mislead world body

Islamabad/New Delhi (NVI): With the sword of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) looming large, Pakistan government has got two bills approved by its Parliament, a move described by the Opposition as an attempt to mislead the global terror-funding monitoring body and an effort to legalise ‘enforced disappearances” in the country.

The Anti-terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and the United Nations (Security Council) (Amendment) Bill, 2020 were passed by Pakistan’s Senate today, a day their passage by the National Assembly (lower House) amid protests by the Opposition parties.

The new legislation would allow the Pakistan Government to impose heavy fine and long term jails for those facilitating militancy, apart from measures of freezing and seizure of assets, travel ban, and arms embargo on the entities and individuals, who are designated on the sanctions list of the United Nations.

Pakistan has been under close watch of the FATF over its support to terrorism. The country is in the ‘Grey List’ of the FATF since June 2018 and has been warned that it could be put in the ‘Black List’ if certain conditions outlined by the global body are not met by September.

Blacklisting of Pakistan would mean that it would not be able to get financial aid from international financial institutions like the World Bank and IMF.

Pakistan Law Minister Naseem yesterday said the FATF-related legislation had to be passed before August 6 as it was a requirement for removing Pakistan from the ‘grey list’, The Dawn newspaper of Pakistan reported.

The Imran Khan government’s move was, however, described by the Opposition as an attempt to mislead the FATF.

Prominent leader of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and former Senator Farhatullah Babbar said that “abduction has been given a dubious legal cover” with the new legislation in the name of FATF.

“Ex PM Khaqan Abbasi revealed that govt today brought a Bill in name of FATF allowing intel agencies to kidnap/detain anyone for 180 days. Too serious to be ignored. It is not only legalising enforced disappearances but also misleading FATF. Who drafted the law, must be probed,” the former Pakistan lawmaker tweeted.

“When abduction is given a dubious legal cover behind facade of fulfilling some Int’l obligation, as attempted today in name of FATF, it’s much worse than merely some individuals in trouble. Both state & society r then in a dark hole, in a bottomless pit,” Babbar said in another tweet.

India has maintained that the fact that Pakistan continues to be in FATF’s ‘Grey List’ vindicates its position that Islamabad has not taken appropriate action against terror financing and safe havens which exist in that country.

“Pakistan continues to be on the FATF’s Grey List. It is yet to show action on 13 out of 27 items of its FATF Action Plan. This is despite all the deadlines of completing the action expired long ago,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at a media briefing recently.

“The continued Greylisting of Pakistan vindicates our position that Pakistan has not taken appropriate action against terror financing and safe havens which exist in that country,” he added.