PPP, PMLN leaders hit back by declaring PTI is trying to pass draconian laws that are not required by the FATF
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday slammed the opposition, claiming they were “hiding behind a façade” of democracy to protect their plunder after two bills allegedly related to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) were shot down by the Senate.
The government has claimed that the Anti-Money Laundering and Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties bills are required to meet FATF obligations that would allow Pakistan to exit the “grey list” it is currently on. The opposition has responded by alleging the government is trying to legalize extrajudicial abductions under the veil of FATF legislation.
“Today in Senate the opposition defeated two critical FATF-related bills: Anti Money Laundering and ICT Waqf bills,” Khan said in a series of posts on Twitter. “From day one I have maintained that the self-serving interests of the opposition leaders and the country’s interests are divergent. As accountability noose has tightened, the opposition leaders have become desperate to save their corrupt money by trying to prevent Parliament from functioning; by seeking to undermine government’s effective COVID-19 strategy—a recognized global success story—and now by trying to sabotage Pakistan’s efforts to exit FATF grey list,” he added.
According to the prime minister, the opposition is trying to “hide behind facade of democracy to protect their loot and plunder.” He also alleged that they were “blackmailing” the government to secure a NRO [National Reconciliation Ordinance]. “To blackmail for NRO by defanging NAB, they would even have Pakistan put on FATF blacklist to destroy nation’s economy and increase poverty. They keep threatening to bring down government unless given NRO,” he added.
Khan concluded his twitter thread by saying that “no matter what happens,” his government would not allow any NRO, “as it would be betrayal of nation’s trust in holding plunderers of public wealth accountable.” He said that former president Pervez Musharraf had given a NRO to two political leaders, “which quadrupled our debt and destroyed economy. There will be no more NROs.”
Shortly after the prime minister’s tweets, representatives of both the PPP and the PMLN have defended their opposition to the two legislations.
Senator Sherry Rehman, on Twitter, said the opposition had refused to sign off on the bills because they provide powers to arrest without warrants to police and investigators. “This is neither required by FATF nor is it defensible in any even the most illiberal democracy,” she added.
“These laws are being pushed as draconian laws,” she said, and claimed that FATF was being used to “expand the scope of NAB to witch-hunt the opposition.”
Similarly, PMLN Vice Chairman Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, in a statement, hailed the opposition’s foiling of attempts by “puppet and selected chairman [Senate]” to get the two bills passed through illegal means. He vowed that no legislation that violated the Constitution and fundamental rights of people would be allowed to pass by the opposition.
Abbasi, also a former prime minister, added that the opposition was willing to support the bills if the government amends them in line with the opposition’s concerns.
Senate rejects bills
Earlier, the Senate rejected the two government bills, which had been passed by the National Assembly on Aug. 24. Opposition parties have maintained that the bills, in their present form, essentially legalize extrajudicial abductions and have warned that there is great room for them to be abused by the government.