Govt railroads controversial Anti-Terrorism (Amend) Bill through NA
Amid a strong protest by the opposition members, the National Assembly passed the controversial Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2020 on Wednesday.
The opposition members tore apart all agenda copies and tried to encircle Speaker Asad Qaiser’s chair but all the amendments presented by them were rejected as the government remained successful in bulldozing the legislation through the Lower House of the Parliament.
As soon as the Bill was approved, the speaker suspended the National Assembly session for a 30-minute break.
This development came as the opposition leaders have been very critical of the government over the issue and terming it an attempt to make the country an authoritarian state.
Under the Bill introduced ostensibly to meet the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) requirements, any person could be detained for a three-month period which may be extended by another three months on mere suspicion and allegation.
In this connection, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal had challenged the government to cite an example for another country where such laws are introduced to meet the FATF conditions.
Earlier, the proceedings were marred by a verbal clash between the opposition and treasury benches as PML-N leader Khawaja Asif accused Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi of not respecting the privacy of negotiations.
Khawaja Asif said Qureshi had met him and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif before having a meeting with Lt-Gen (retd) Shuja Pasha – the then ISI chief – before the joining the PTI in 2013.
“Their time is coming to an end, they will face the same NAB,” remarked the PML-N leader and added that references should be filed against the PTI members for collecting money using graves and foreign funding.
He said they would not have given a reply if Qureshi had not delivered a speech a day earlier and added that the foreign minister had staged a drama over the planned legislation NAB.
Khawaja Asif was referring to Qureshi’s statement in which he had stated that the very purpose of NAB would be dead if the opposition’s amendments were incorporated in the new legislation.
When Qureshi tried to respond, the opposition members started shouting and stopped him from speaking. As a result, Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri adjourned the session for a 10-minute break.