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Ayaz Sadiq Accuses Govt Of Manipulating Voting On FATF Bills

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Former National Assembly speaker and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ayaz Sadiq has accused the government of ‘manipulating’ the voting procedure during the count.

Sadiq said the count conducted by the National Assembly speaker was not complete, but he still ordered the parliamentary affairs minister to move the motion to get the Financial Action Task Force-related bills passed.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) MNA Agha Rafiullah alleged that the opposition lawmakers received phone calls by unknown people, asking the members to skip the joint session of parliament that was held to vote on controversial FATF bills.

Speaking on a TV show, the Karachi lawmaker said the issue of these telephone calls was discussed in the National Assembly and was also brought to the notice of the top brass of the opposition parties.

When asked by the anchorperson, the lawmaker said these calls were by the same unknown people, who provided the JIT report on Uzair Baloch to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Ali Zaidi.

‘Speaker crossed red line’:

Following the joint parliament session yesterday, the opposition leaders held a press conference wherein they criticised NA Speaker Asad Qaiser for ‘trampling upon parliamentary norms and bulldozing legislation’, reported Dawn.

Flanked by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and other opposition leaders, Shehbaz Sharif the laws bulldozed by the government gave it sweeping powers to violate constitutional rights of people, particularly their political opponents, in the name of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

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He said the speaker did not even allow debate and discussion on the first draft of the legislation and backed out of his promise of allowing even the opposition leader to speak at the joint session.

According to the PML-N chief, the speaker had crossed a red line, forcing the opposition to boycott the joint session.

FATF bills passed amid protest:

On Wednesday, the PTI government managed to pass all three FATF-related legislation in a joint session of parliament that was earlier blocked by the opposition-dominated Senate.

The first bill Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Waqf Properties Bill was initially passed through a voice vote, reported Dawn. However, upon the protest by the opposition lawmakers, the speaker asked the members to stand up for the vote count —  the bill was passed with 200 members voting in favour and 190 voting against it.

All the amendments proposed by the opposition lawmakers were rejected. Jamaat-e-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ghani, who introduced amendments in several clauses, accused the speaker of ‘passing legislation illegally’.

Amid the ruckus, PTI MNA Maleeka Bokhari introduced amendments in several clauses of the Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill, all of which were passed. At this, the opposition staged a walkout, as per the Dawn report.

The Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill, which was then tabled by Awan, was also passed through voice voting without any opposition. PTI MNA Faheem Khan tabled the Anti-Terrorism Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which was also passed without opposition.

The ATA Bill proposes the investigating officer, with the permission of the court, can conduct ‘covert operations’ to detect terrorism funding, track communications and computer system by applying the latest technologies in 60 days.

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“The main purpose of introducing this bill is to enable law enforcement agencies to eradicate these curses by adopting certain preventive techniques with the empowered assistance of the courts of law.”

However, the opposition says this vague clause in the bill is a threat to the civil liberties enjoyed by the Pakistani citizens and proposed amendments to change it.

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