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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Tuesday informed the National Assembly that India is making all-out efforts to put Pakistan in the blacklist of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) while Pakistan is foiling India's moves through 'effective diplomacy' with the support of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and Turkey.

Speaking on the floor of the House during National Assembly session, the Foreign Minister said "India is trying its level best to push us from FATF's grey list to black list but its conspiracies are bound to fail."

The foreign minister said India wants Pakistan to land in FATF's black list to destroy Pakistan economically. "Pakistan's economy gets destroyed. Our exports come to an end. Tougher financial sanctions are imposed on Pakistan and we remain cornered in the world. That is what India wants but it is never going to succeed."

He said Pakistan is aware of its neighbour's designs and tackling its moves. "With the support of friends-like Saudi Arabia other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and Turkey, we are taking on India."

Through effective and aggressive diplomacy, Pakistan has encountered India's propaganda at FATF and other international and regional diplomatic forums, Qureshi said. He appreciated the efforts of Pakistan's Foreign Office and federal ministers Hammad Azhar and Asad Umar for strengthening Pakistan's stance in FATF. "I appreciate everyone who became Pakistan's voice at FATF," he said.

The Minister accused the former federal governments for landing Pakistan in FATF grey list. "Pakistan landed in FATF grey list before Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) came into power. It is a huge tale of failures and embarrassments," he said.

The Minister sought opposition's support for parliamentary legislation regarding four crucial bills in line with Pakistan's commitment to FATF. These include bills related to anti-terrorism, United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA). "We need to be united in the national interest. The proposed legislation on FATF is necessary to meet the obligations and we have made before FATF. All the political forces whether they are in government or opposition need to come together to strengthen Pakistan," he said.

If the required legislation is done timely, only then Pakistan would be able to put up a strong case before Asia Pacific Group in the coming October. Thereafter, it would be decided whether Pakistan stays in the grey list or it is moved to white list, Qureshi said.

According to the minister, the opposition is more interested in striking a 'deal' with the government and is using the pending FATF legislation as a tool to pressurize government into accepting its terms. "I was surprised to see that opposition wants a 'package'-which means that it is willing to support legislation regarding FATF only if the government is ready to support opposition's demands regarding NAB (National Accountability Bureau) NAB laws."

But, the minister said there are certain points of differences between the government and opposition regarding proposed legislation on NAB laws. "For the last 10 years, they (Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) were in discussion over NAB laws but they did not do anything."

The minister said the opposition proposed 35 amendments in the NAB laws.

The treasury benches reviewed these amendments and presented a report to Prime Minister Imran Khan.

"Then a 26-member committee was formed for legislation regarding NAB laws. The opposition demanded to keep proposed legislation on FATF and NAB laws hand in hand. This was quite shocking for me. This is not a package. This is not a deal. The FATF's legislation is very critical for our country. It has to be done immediately. Amending the NAB laws is a complex matter. It requires time. But the opposition has demanded that this ongoing National Assembly session be extended till July 30 (to do legislation on FATF and NAB laws)," the minister said.

The minister rejected the opposition's proposed amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999, saying it is against the country's interest and will hurt Pakistan's position in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

He said, "Under the proposed amendments of the opposition, it wants to ignore all the corruption cases in the NAB from November 16, 1999 ...of the last 14 years ...should be ignored but the PTI government is not ready for it. The opposition also wants that the corruption cases of less than Rs1 billion should not be handed over to the NAB and international legal assistance for the cases of money laundering should be separate from the NAB. The period of disqualification of a member of the parliament on the convention from NAB should be reduced from 10 years to five years etc. Such proposals are shocking for us."

The minister said that there was discussion on media to reduce the tenure of chairman NAB from 4 years to 3 years but such a proposal was not under discussion of the government.

He said that the opposition had also proposed deletion of six different offences such as cheating at public at large.

The minister said the opposition should review and reconsider their demands in the best interest of the country.

He said if these 35 amendments proposed by the opposition are approved, it will deprive Pakistan of the gains it can achieve through the legislation to bring the country out of FATF's grey list to white list.

He urged the opposition to decline their demand of amending the NAB law with legislation relating to fulfilling international obligations to bring Pakistan out of Financial Action Task Force's grey list.

Earlier, Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser said that all ethnicities living in Pakistan are equal and nobody will be allowed to use derogatory language against any group of people.

He made these remarks, while responding to a calling attention notice moved by Sher Akbar Khan and Mohsin Dawar regarding failure of the PEMRA to take action against derogatory contents of dramas on private TV channels attributed to Pashtuns and an objectionable lesson titled "Seven Foolish Men" in English textbook for Grade 5, published by M/s Gaba Educational Book Publisher, Private Limited, attributed to district Buner of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The speaker referred the calling attention notice to relevant Standing Committee of the house for further discussion.

Responding to the calling attention notice, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said that the government took notice of this incident very strictly.

He said that we will not allow degrading any specific community of any area of Pakistan. He said that our religion, Islam and Constitution of Pakistan do not allow it.

He said that the Information Ministry, Education Ministry and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government also took notice of this incident.

The speaker also referred as many as eight bills to relevant standing committees of the house, which were introduced by the members separately in the house.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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