ISLAMABAD, Jul 28 (APP):Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi Tuesday said the 35 proposals of the opposition to change the national accountability ordinance were not acceptable to the government of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf as these were against the party’s core principles on anti-corruption. Speaking in the National Assembly, he said the opposition should delink the two issues of legislation related to Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and changes proposed in the accountability law. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan would not compromise on his party’s main plank of fight against corruption.
He said the government had introduced 11 bills to legislate to meet the requirements of FATF. The government wanted cooperation of the opposition on these bills for the sake of Pakistan, he remarked. The minister said the government had requested the opposition to sit together, identify areas and legislate on the FATF issues. “We have to legislate on four time barred bills and the report will go to the Asia Pacific Group of FATF which will do its analysis and submit the report to plenary of FATF which will meet in October. At that time it will be decided whether Pakistan stays in the grey list or comes in the white list.”
Four of these bills were related to anti terrorism, mutual legal assistance and UN Security Council and FATF, he noted.
Qureshi said the government and opposition started talks on the bills in a 25 member parliamentary committee formed with the support of Chairman Senate and Speaker National Assembly. He said it was shocking for him to know that the opposition wanted legislation on FATF and National Accountability Ordinance at the same time. He objected to the demand of opposition to pass legislation on FATF and accountability ordinance as a package deal. The opposition wanted that the applicability of the new accountability law should start from 1999, adding the change would put aside corrupt practices done in 14 years.
The opposition wanted to reduce the tenure of Chairman NAB, remove money laundering from the list of cognisable offenses and link money laundering with the law of witnesses, he mentioned. Opposition wanted that allegations of corruption of less than Rs one billion should not come under the scope of NAB, he added. The government did not believe in revenge but these changes were not acceptable to it, the minister said. Qureshi pointed out that the accountability ordinance remained under discussion during the ten year period of governments of Pakistan Muslim League N and Pakistan Peoples Party but as it was a complex issue no headway was made on it.
He said the opposition leaders in National Assembly presented a draft of 35 changes in the accountability ordinance and discussed them with the government in detail. The proposals were then presented to the prime minister as well, he added. He asked opposition to review its stance and said Pakistan was on the grey list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) before the government of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf and its allies were formed.
He said he had no doubt about the patriotism of parties in the opposition and both the government and the opposition wanted the sword of FATF grey list to be lifted from Pakistan. India had a clear policy and it was conspiring against Pakistan and was trying at every forum to push Pakistan from the grey to the black list, he added.
He said India knew that if sanctions would be imposed due to black list, Pakistan’s economy would be hit negatively and poverty and unemployment would increase. Pakistan was trying to get itself removed from the grey list, he continued. Pakistan initiated diplomatic efforts and with the help of its friends including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Malaysia and countries of Gulf Cooperation Council and with the administrative and practical steps of the government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan foiled the moves of India, he added. Qureshi said in the last meeting of FATF, efforts of Pakistan were appreciated and acknowledged but it was stated by FATF that Pakistan had to fulfill some obligations. He recognized the services of Foreign Office and minister Asad Umar and Hammad Azhar for becoming effective voice of Pakistan at FATF forum.