Opposition asked for time to consult on draft legislation, including NAB, FATF: Qureshi

Arshad Waheed Chaudhry
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told media the federal government wanted "to consider the Opposition's views" pertaining to the anti-graft watchdog. Radio Pakistan/via Geo.tv

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Monday the Opposition has requested time for consultation on the draft legislation, including that on the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Speaking to the media after the Parliamentary Committee on Legislative Business met earlier today, Qureshi — who chaired the session — said the ruling party has shared all the drafts with the opposition parties.

"We have presented our views to the opposition [and they] needed some time to consult," he said.

"We want to consider the Opposition's views" pertaining to the anti-graft watchdog, he added, noting that the federal government was curious to know what the other parties wanted to do about the NAB.

"We want to know how much the gap is between our and the opposition's viewpoints about the NAB law," the foreign minister added.

Qureshi told the media that after today's session — the second one — was adjourned, the Parliamentary Committee on Legislative Business would meet again tomorrow at 6pm.

Legislation on FATF

Earlier on Saturday, Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said that the government has prepared eight bills for legislation on anti-money laundering and terror financing with a view for Pakistan to move into the Financial Action Task Force's "white list" again.

"India has been attempting to have Pakistan pushed into the black list. If this were to occur, you know better than I, the effects it will have on the economy.

"The government has taken timely administrative and legislative steps to step out of the grey list and once again have Pakistan placed on the white list," the foreign minister said, in a press briefing held at Multan's Circuit House.

He said that there are eight laws for which consultation talks were held with the law ministry, finance ministry, Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) and experts dealing with money laundering and counter-terrorism issues.

On the prime minister's directives, the opposition has been taken into confidence, he said. A joint committee of 24 people has been formed which includes various factions of the opposition as well as representatives of the government. It contains both members of the National Assembly and the Senate. The committee will review the legislation.

"The prime minister wishes that the opposition be taken into confidence on this matter of national importance [...] time is of the essence here. We must act timely so that the Asia Pacific Group (APG), of which Pakistan is a member, can place the government's practical steps before the [FATF] plenary which will then decide whether the obligations Pakistan was subjected to were fulfilled or not," said the foreign minister.

Qureshi said one law pertaining to the National Accountability Bureau has also been drafted. “The opposition has expressed its reservations about the NAB law,” said Qureshi.

“We are prepared to make changes in the NAB law,” he said, adding that the PPP and PML-N both had both had an opportunity but each failed to amend the NAB laws.

“All the bills have been sent to the opposition (parties), including the one on NAB law,” he said.

“We do not have the intention to use (the law) for witch-hunting,” he said in an apparent reference to opposition’s reservations regarding the accountability watchdog’s methods.

The foreign minister said that in a session with all the stakeholders on Monday, the legislative process will be discussed.