News Column

Senate panel passes anti-terrorism bill

May 31, 2014

Imran Mukhtar



A Senate panel on Friday unanimously passed an anti-terrorism bill enhancing counter-terrorism financing regime in the country after the government informed the committee that Pakistan is facing threat of international financial sanctions if the law was not passed before the end of next month.

The committee unanimously passed the Anti-Terrorism (Second Amendment) Bill, 2014 without any amendment and now the bill will go to Senate for its final approval as National Assembly has already passed it on February 6. If the Senate does not pass the bill till June 5, it will automatically stand lapsed as the parliamentary year of the National Assembly is ending on this date.

Advocate Muneeb Zia, Legal Advisor of the Ministry of Finance, while giving a briefing to the committee informed that the government had to meet certain international standards to control financing in terrorism financing and this bill was part to fulfil such requirements.

He said that the government had assured the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international body comprising many countries and international organizations that set and monitor international standards on anti-money laundering (AML) and counter financing of terrorism (CFT), that it would get enact this law and this was the last requirement of the body as Pakistan had met all others.

Zia briefing the committee said that the bill would strengthen provisions relating to the offence of terrorism financing that covered all aspects of the offence at par with international standards. The bill provided for effective measures for law enforcement agencies to investigate such offences, he also said.

Under ATA 1997, the process of freezing of assets and accounts of proscribed organizations or persons for their involvement in terrorism was weak and this had been strengthened in this law, Mr Zia pointed out. The provisions in this law provided to review the government's earlier decision of proscription of any organization or person and freezing of its accounts if the decision was inadvertently taken, he added.

He said that through the legislation the government would revise the list of proscribed organizations on periodic basis. The language in the law had been made consistent and harmonized that was not in the last one.

"The bill should be passed as we would not like Pakistan to be blacklisted in the world," said Tahir Hussain Mashhadi of MQM.

Chairman Committee Talha Mahmood before passing the bill said, "We fear this law might not be used for political victimization.

He, however, termed the briefing of the legal advisor quite satisfactory and remarked that the committee had no objection over its passage. The bill was lying pending with the committee since March 7, 2014.

FATF had placed Pakistan on blacklist in 2008 and then in 2010 for posing a threat to the international financial system. The World Bank and Asia-Pacific Group had been assigned the task to review Pakistan's laws dealing with anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing and the country was found to either non compliant or partially compliant with 35 out of the total 49 global standards.

An The government had promulgated an ordinance to amend the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 was promulgated, but India objected to it with the task force saying ordinance had little life and proper legislation should be made.

The committee deferred an other anti-terrorism law, called Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2014 and sought a detailed briefing from NACTA as well as interior ministry in the next t meeting on June 2. This bill will also stand lapsed if the Upper House did not pass it till June 5.


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Source: Nation (Pakistan)


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