The National Assembly on Tuesday (yesterday) witnessed a heated debate between the treasury and opposition benches on the issue of legislation on FATF and NAO. The government on one side rejected most of the amendments in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) proposed by the opposition parties while the opposition refused to accept the FATF bills in the present form which were presented by the government.
Earlier, the opposition members had shared their decision of boycotting a meeting of the special parliamentary committee through a press conference that led Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Farogh Naseem to use the NA floor so as to clarify government’s stance. Mr. Qureshi blamed that the opposition was trying to have a “package deal” while the government urged them to disband the two issues in the larger national interest.
Opposition wants to get a package deal by connecting FATF and NAO legislation, Shah Mehmood Qureshi blamed
He clearly declared that the proposals jointly made by the PPP and the PML-N were not acceptable by the government and the Prime Minister as it was entirely contradictory to the party’s manifesto of eradicating corruption from the country. The PTI’s chair Amjid Ali Khan adjourned the sitting after the foreign minister’s speech without granting the opposition an opportunity to clarify their stance.
According to sources, most of the opposition members including 10 senators from Balochistan had already left Islamabad in a single flight on Tuesday so as to avoid their participation in the sessions of two houses on Wednesday (today) in connection with the aforementioned legislation. Earlier, a senior PPP leader had shared that the government would expectedly try to get the bills passed on Wednesday (today) however the opposition parties had collectively vowed to resist the move with full force.
As per sources, the dialogue process between the two sides broke down when government clearly informed the opposition in an informal meeting before the commencement of a formal meeting of the parliamentary committee; that their proposals in connection with the NAO were not acceptable.
The opposition leaders told the government that they were ready to extend their support for FATF legislation however they had concerns over the present form of the bills and blamed that the government wanted to get approved some anti-democratic clauses which had not connected to the FATF conditions.
Government wants to get approved some non-democratic clauses which are not connected to the FATF conditions, Opposition alleged
Minister Naseem told the media that the FATF legislations needed to be passed before August 06, 2020 as required for the country to get eliminated from the grey list.
Addressing the house after cancellation of the committee’s meeting on Tuesday, Mr Qureshi alleged that the opposition wanted to avail the “package deal” by connecting the FATF and NAO bills.
Remarking on the opposition’s proposals regarding changes in the NAO, the minister said that the opposition wanted the following amendments that were unacceptable:
- To start the applicability of the accountability law from 1999
- To reduce the tenure of Chairman NAB
- To eliminate the clause of money laundering from the list of cognizable offences
- To permit the convicted persons to remain members of the parliament till disposal of appeals
- To restrict the time of taking cognizance by NAB of any wrongdoing to five years
He mocked the opposition’s proposal of excluding the allegations of corruption of less than Rs1 billion from NAB’s jurisdiction. Qureshi added that the government did not believe in revenge but the proposed amendments were not acceptable as this would make the bureau and accountability process meaningless.