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Monday November 29, 2021

Rejection of FATF specific bills by Senate: Govt decides to summon joint sitting after Ashura

August 26, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to summon a joint sitting of the two houses of parliament immediately after Ashura Muharram to take up the two Financial Action Task Force (FATF) specific bills rejected by Senate on Tuesday evening with majority vote. Well-placed political sources told The News afterwards the same evening that the government was assured through back channel parleys with the opposition that the legislation required by the FATF for scrapping Pakistan’s name from the so-called grey list of the force would be made after due modification. The bills were adopted by the National Assembly on its last day through majority vote and the opposition’s amendments were discarded to make the laws reasonable.

Since the opposition was of the view that the government is in habit of exploiting government machinery for witch-hunting and victimising its opponents, the opposition opposed the bills in the National Assembly but couldn’t help it.

The sources said that two major parties of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) supported the official legislation on previous occasions that offended smaller parties of the opposition, including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), which is the third largest party of the opposition. The smaller parties were so annoyed that they decided to part ways with the major opposition and leader of opposition Shahbaz Sharif had to make excuses to the JUI supremo Maulana Fazlur Rehman in the Parliament sitting for not taking the smaller parties into confidence properly in the matter.

The sources pointed out that Shahbaz Sharif visited Maulana Fazlur Rehman earlier in the day here in Islamabad and they reportedly decided to maintain complete unity in the opposition ranks.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Senator Mushtaq Ahmad asked the opposition parties during the Senate discussion on Tuesday that they should not stand by the clandestine understanding with the government benches whatsoever for legislation. The government and opposition had harsh debate on technical subject for initiation of legislation in House for “consideration at once” on Tuesday.

It culminated in rejection of the bills presented by the government in the Upper House of the Parliament. It turned out to be set back for the government that was not expecting the outright rejection of the bills by the House.

The sources said that the opposition asked the government to refer the bills in accordance with the procedure to the committees concerned where the opposition wanted to get included its amendments. The treasury benches refused to accept the suggestion. The opposition is apprehensive that the government wants to use the legislation made in the name of FATF to target its opponents. For the reason it wanted to take the bills to the committees where the scrutiny could be carried out.

The sources reminded that the government has been altering cutoff date for legislation in accordance to the benchmarks of the FATF. Previously it was terming it as the first week of August but now it conveyed the opposition that that date would be September 13.

The sources reminded that joint sitting of the Parliament would be summoned to undertake legislation under article 70 of the Constitution and it says: Introduction and passing of Bills. (1) A Bill with respect to any matter in the Federal Legislative List or in the Concurrent Legislative List may originate in either House and shall, if it is passed by the House in which it originated, be transmitted to the other House; and, if the Bill is passed without amendment, by the other House also, it shall be presented to the President for assent. (2) if a Bill transmitted to a House under clause (1) is rejected or is not passed within ninety days of its receipt or is passed with amendment, the Bill, at the request of the House in which it originated, shall be referred to a Mediation Committee constituted under Article 71 for consideration and resolution thereon. (3) Where a Bill is referred to the Mediation Committee under clause (2), the Mediation Committee shall, within ninety days, formulate an agreed Bill which is likely to be passed by both Houses of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) and place the agreed Bill separately before each House and if both the Houses pass the Bill, it shall be presented to the President for assent. (4) In this Article and the succeeding provisions of the Constitution, "Federal Legislative List" and "Concurrent Legislative List" mean respectively the Federal Legislative List and the Concurrent Legislative List in the Fourth Schedule.