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Parliament passes MLA Bill

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August 7, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The joint sitting of the Parliament Thursday passed the Mutual Legal Assistance (Criminal Matters) Bill-2020 with majority voice after reaching consensus with the main opposition parties, the PML-N and PPP.

The bill is aimed at providing legal support to the requesting state (foreign country) by executing necessary actions on its territory in criminal cases warranting shared assistance.

The legislation, however, was rejected by the JUI-F, JI, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), National Party and Mohsin Dawar. Former chairman Senate and senior leader of the PPP Mian Raza Rabbani also abstained from voting in the passage of the bill.

The protesting members continued to raise slogans of “No, No” during passage of the bill.

Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif protested against not giving time to protesting members to express their view. “This is against traditions of the Parliament,” he said, adding that Maulana Asad Mehmood and Sirajul Haq wanted to speak on the bill.

The government initiated the bill in the National Assembly on September 13, 2019 and it was passed there on January 06, 2020. However, it was not passed by the Senate within 90 days and tabled in the joint session of Parliament.

The PPP lawmaker Agha Rafiullah and PML-N lawmaker Mohsin Shah Nawaz Ranjha withdrew their amendments to the bill. All the amendments moved by the Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem were passed by the House. Two new clauses 27 and 28 were inserted in the bill which were passed by the House.

The law proposes exchange of information and criminals with countries to meet a requirement of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The government accommodated an amendment proposed by Shahbaz Sharif which says that mutual assistance would be refused if request made by a state is in violation of International Convention on Human Rights.

According to statement of objects and reasons of this act, increase in transnational organised crime has made it imperative for the international community including Pakistan to improve effectiveness of legal instrument. International cooperation in criminal matters through mutual legal assistance is intended to bridge existing gaps in respective countries towards effective law enforcement.

The joint sitting of the Parliament also asked India to stop its illegal measures to change demographic structure of the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) and withdraw 900,000 troops from the occupied territory.

The joint sitting unanimously adopted a resolution, rejecting emphatically India’s illegal and unilateral actions in IOJ&K since August 05, 2019.

The resolution moved by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the illegal actions are aimed at perpetuating India’s inhuman occupation of Jammu and Kashmir.

The resolution said that Kashmir is an internationally recognised dispute and longest outstanding item on the agenda of UN Security Council, categorically stating that illegal steps cannot alter the disputed status of the territory.

Reiterating Pakistan’s full support to the Kashmiri people in their legitimate struggle for right to self-determination, the Parliament demanded the

Indian government to immediately lift military siege in

IOJ&K and rescind the illegal and unilateral actions of August 05, 2019.

The resolution passed by the Parliament underscored that Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally recognised dispute and longest outstanding item on the agenda of the UNSC and categorically states that illegal Indian steps do not and cannot alter its disputed status.

The Parliament called upon the international community to use all tools at its disposal to hold India accountable for its illegal and unilateral actions and human rights violations against the Kashmiri people.

It urged the international community to pressurise India to adhere to its international human rights obligations and allow international media and Independent observers entry into IOJ&K to investigate and examine the excessive use of force and violence against the Kashmiri people.

The joint sitting of the Parliament demanded India to remove restrictions on media, internet, movement and peaceful assembly in the occupied territory, besides, repealing the draconian laws.

Parliament in its resolution stressed the BJP government’s threatening statements, belligerent rhetoric and irresponsible posture which pose a grave threat to peace and stability in South Asia.

Parliament also welcomed the three discussions on the Kashmir dispute at the United Nations Security Council after a gap of fifty-five years.

Shahbaz Sharif in his speech said the efforts of the PTI government on Kashmir were confined to mere passage of few resolutions.

He said on one hand Imran Khan advises the nation to watch drama “Artughal’ and on the other hand he keeps waiting for call from Modi. “This is also a matter of shame for us that Modi never receives calls from our prime minister,” he said.

“Today the government has nothing for Kashmiris except from speeches, writings and telephone calls,” he said, adding there has been complete silence on Kashmir issue.

Shahbaz Sharif alleged that the present government was damaging the Kashmir cause.

During his speech, the opposition leader also apologized to the JUI-F for not taking its leadership into confidence on FATF legislation.

Minister for Communication Murad Saeed who took the floor next said the opposition accuses the government of changing names of highways to names of IOJ&K cities. “They themselves removes boards of Kashmir when then Indian prime minister visited Islamabad,” he recalled.

He said that Nawaz Sharif not only invited Modi at wedding ceremony, but also made Sajan Jandal as his guest. “When questioned, he said we have personal relations,” Murad Saeed said.

Shahbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto left the House during speech of the minister for communication who alleged that Pakistan was placed in grey list of FATF because of then PPP and PML-N governments.

Both sides also indulged in sloganeering had abusive language when Murad Saeed said he would not escape like the opposition leaders.

The PPP members Agha Rafiullah and Abdul Qadar Patel not only made indecent gestures but also used abusive language for Murad Saeed who said he would not lose patience. “The child while going has left his slaves to use abusive language,” Murad Saeed said, adding that these slaves have no mothers and daughters in their houses.

Seeing the situation getting out of control, the chair prorogued proceedings of the joint sitting of the Parliament after 10:00pm.

Earlier, Bilawal said in his speech that the issue of Kashmir will neither be decided by Islamabad or New Delhi, but the Kashmiri people.

“It is very unfortunate that the people of Kashmir are disappointed with the role of this government. We have to make

this country, a democratic Islamic country envisioned by Quaid-i-Azam where the rights of every citizen are protected,” he said.

Bilawal raised the question of absence of Prime Minister Imran Khan saying that it is unfortunate that on this important day of joint sitting of the Parliament, the prime minister is absent. “Imran Khan is prime minister only for his party and Twitter,” he said

He said the PPP’s stance has always been that Modi was butcher of Gujarat and he is the butcher of Kashmir now.