Pakistan government has decided to hold a new session of the National Assembly and the Senate on September 14 and 15 respectively to pass important bills, including one related money laundering and terrorist financing, which was earlier rejected by the upper house of Parliament.
The decision to call the fresh sessions was taken during a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and his adviser on parliamentary affairs Babar Awan on Monday, according to a media report. Awan called on the prime minister following the postponement of the Senate and National Assembly (NA) sessions scheduled for Monday.
According to a press release, various matters of importance came for discussion during the meeting. It has been decided that the fresh session of the National Assembly will be held on September 14 and that of the Senate on September 15, Awan told Dawn newspaper.
He said the FATF-related money laundering and terrorist financial bill and other bills would be tabled before the two houses for fresh legislation. The Paris based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) put Pakistan on the grey list in June 2018 and asked Islamabad to implement a plan of action by the end of 2019 but the deadline was extended later due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Asked why already convened sessions of the Senate and the NA were shelved, the adviser said they were postponed due to the devastation caused by the recent rains across the country. Regarding the FATF-related bills, he said the government would not allow any delay in the passage of "bills of national interest".
In reply to a question about the convening of a joint sitting of parliament to get the FATF-related bills passed if the Opposition objected to them again, he said no date for the sitting had been decided so far. Two days ago, Awan had said the government was considering referring the Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill and the Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill - both rejected by the Senate - to the joint sitting of Parliament.
The 104-member Opposition-dominated Senate had rejected the two bills on August 25 through a voice vote. In its third and final plenary held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic in June, the FATF decided to keep Pakistan in the "grey list" as Islamabad failed to check the flow of money to terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
With Pakistan's continuation in the 'grey list', it will be difficult for the country to get financial aid from the IMF, World Bank, ADB and the European Union, thus further enhancing problems for the nation which is in a precarious financial situation. If Pakistan fails to comply with the FATF directive by October, there is every possibility that the global body may put the country in the 'Black List' along with North Korea and Iran.
The FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.