The government is trying hard to meet certain requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) so as to defeat the grey list, and in this regard the National Assembly on Wednesday passed two bills – ‘The Anti-terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2020’ and the United Nations (Security Council) (Amendment) Bill, 2020’. The two laws which are directly related to the state, and the government in a way, however, faced sloganeering and strong protest from the opposition members in the house. The legislation, which should have been passed years ago, empowers the federal government to implement various measures in the Security Council resolutions such as the freezing and seizure of assets, travel ban and arms embargo on the entities and individuals, who are designated on the sanctions list of the United Nations. The UN Security Council Resolution 1373 requires member states to implement counter-terrorism measures, especially countering the financing of terrorism through their domestic laws. This obligation is implemented in Pakistan through Anti-Pakistan Act, 1997. The other bill – the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2020, is about increasing in the punishment, including the fine amount from existing Rs10 million to Rs25m, besides introduction of a jail sentence for 10 years for those found involved in terror financing through illegal money transfers. This means the banks and financial institutions or persons are to be held liable if the loan sum is found to be used in terror-related activities. Earlier, our legal system offered no severe punishment for terror financiers.
The passage of the bills from the National Assembly was not a smooth affair, sadly much due to unethical sloganeering from the treasury benches. The opposition is concerned about the likely misuse of the anti-terrorism bill by the law enforcement agencies. The government must address the concerns, besides expediting legislation and other administrative reforms to meet FATF terms to come out of the grey list. One must question the government’s wisdom to drag on meeting FATF terms for almost two years. Still, Pakistan’s efforts to fight money laundering and terror financing have been lauded by the world as well as FATF members. Despite India’s lobbying and propaganda, the Asia-Pacific joint group of the global watchdog on terror-financing and money laundering, admitted in January last that Pakistan has met most of the key terms of the body. Despite such positive feedback, the country is still on the grey list. It is hoped the government will soon meet all requirements, not just for evading the grey list but in the national interest too.

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