Pakistan’s National Assembly (APP file image)
Islamabad (UNA-OIC) – Pakistan’s National Assembly (lower house of parliament) on Wednesday passed five bills that the government hopes will help pave the way for the country to be removed from an international “grey list” of nations falling short of global money-laundering rules.
Pakistan was placed on the list in 2018 by the global watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The bills, namely the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Limited Liability Partnership (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Companies (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Control of Narcotic Substances (Amendment) Bill 2020 and the Islamabad Capital Territory Trust Bill 2020, were presented before parliament by Law Minister Farogh Naseem who called it a “historic day.”
“Whitening the economy and checking terror financing is important to take the country forward on the path of development,” Naseem said on the floor of the house.
The new legislations include actions for freezing and seizure of assets and travel bans and arms embargoes on entities and individuals designated on UN sanctions’ lists. They also introduce measures to impose heavy fines and long term jail sentences on those involved in terror financing.
Speaking during the parliament session, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the government and opposition parties had both agreed on the FATF-related legislation after lengthy deliberations. Earlier, opposition parties had opposed the bills over fears the government would use them beyond FATF-related measures, particularly to victimize political opponents.
A move onto the blacklist from the grey list could deal Pakistan a serious financial hit at a time when its economy is grappling with a balance of payments crisis.
The most crucial aspect of compliance with FATF in Pakistan’s case would be steps to effectively prevent militant groups from openly operating and raising funds, as the Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group has done from charities.
The FATF has pushed Pakistan to adequately identify, assess and understand risks associated with militant groups present in the country such as LeT, Daesh, al Qaeda, and the sectarian Jamat-ud-Dawa and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) groups.