Forced govt to trash bill allowing detaining people for six months: Abbasi

Says made it clear that FATF and NAB are two different things: Anti-Terrorism (Amend) Bill and United Nations (Security Council) (Amend) Bill 2020 sail through Senate as well

By: News Desk      Published: 03:06 PM, 30 Jul, 2020
Forced govt to trash bill allowing detaining people for six months: Abbasi
File photo.

As the Senate passed the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2020 and the United Nations (Security Council) (Amendment) Bill 2020 on Thursday, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the government wanted to introduce another legislation that would have made the situation worse than in the Indian-occupied Kashmir.

The government was aiming at getting that bill passed through deception while using the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as a shield, he said.

Addressing a press conference at the Parliament Lodges in Islamabad along with other PML-N, PPP and JUI-F leaders, Abbasi said the proposed bill concerning economic terrorism, which would have been made part of the current Anti-Terrorism Act, was withdrawn after the opposition resisted the move during negotiations.

Under that bill, any person would have been picked for 180 days – a 90-day initial period extendable by another 90 days – without any formal charges and only on suspicion which couldn’t be challenged in any court, said Abbasi.

The former premier said the decision about the detention and release would have been made by committees at federal and provincial levels comprising the sensitive agencies representatives, which was unacceptable.

“We asked them who had drafted this bill and what relationship it has with the FATF,” he told the journalists.

Sharing the details of the consultations between the two sides, he said a government team had contacted the opposition 10 days ago, informing that they wanted to introduce four bills – three concerning the FATF and one about NAB – simultaneously.

The amendments suggested for the United Nations (Security Council) (Amendment) Bill were incorporated with the two pieces of legislations decided within 20 minutes, he added.

However, Abbasi revealed, four government members visited them again and said the prime minister could not accept the opposition’s amendments.

He said the opposition, in its reply, made it clear that the NAB and the FATF were two different things, adding that the two bills related to FATF were rushed through the National Assembly without any amendments.

The government had tried to blackmail the NAB chairman with an attempt to extend his tenure and give an NRO to the government members, the PML-N senior vice-president said.

“I had told Farooq H Naek (of PPP) as a joke that your friends (PTI leaders) will wave these notes (pieces of paper containing the amendments) to say that they (the opposition) are demanding NRO,” said Abbasi about the informal meeting held at Speaker Asad Qaiser’s residence.

“The government should keep its NAB to itself, we did not demand any NRO,” remarked Abbasi and added that they made it clear to the government that the country could not be run with NAB.

Speaking on the occasion, PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said the Parliament was standing up to protect the people’s rights. The basic objective for the opposition was to safeguard the basic rights of citizens, she said about the foiled government attempt to bring the bill with FATF being used as a refuge.

Describing the speeches delivered by the government members as shameful, Sherry said former president Asif Ali Zardari in a telephonic conversation told them that he had spent 11 years in prison and he did not want any NRO.

On the other hand, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi thanked the opposition parties for backing the two bills, saying that they had foiled the Indian intentions.

India wants to push Pakistan into the FATF Blacklist, he said and added that the JUI-F too should have revised its decision and voted in favour.