Anti-terrorism bill sails through Senate
06 March, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Tuesday passed, with majority, the Anti-Terrorism Amendment Bill 2013, which would enable the law enforcement agencies to take effective action against financiers of terrorism in the country.
Law Minister Farooq H Naek presented the bill, which was opposed by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Senator Abdul Ghafoor Hyderi, who sought deferment of the bill so that some necessary amendments could be made to make it more effective. However, JUI-F leaders staged a walkout when the bill was voted upon and was passed. The bill amends the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. It now needs to be signed by President Asif Ali Zardari to become law. The bill empowers the government authorities to take action against elements involved in financing terrorism in the country, confiscation of property owned by financiers of terrorist elements.
Previously, the National Assembly had unanimously passed the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2013 on February 20, aiming to remove the shortcomings in provisions against terrorism-financing. The House also saw a heated debate over grant of permission to the US Army Corps of Engineer to build a Tactical Command and Operations Centre (TCOC) compound at the Jinnah International Airport (JIAP), Karachi, for exchange of information with Pakistan Customs Drug Enforcement Cell over smuggling activities in and around Karachi.
Speaking on a call attention notice, Senator Mian Raza Rabbani said the federal minister for finance was unaware about this deal with the US. Meanwhile, Law and Justice Minister Farooq H Naek informed the senators that the government could not decide about the construction of the facility at the Karachi airport nor has it granted permission to any US firm in this regard. Rabbani strongly reacted to this claim and argued that the law minister was giving a false statement and misguiding the House.
During the debate, Raza Rabbani and Senate Chairman Nayyar Bokhari exchanged harsh words, and the former left the House in protest. Two walkouts were staged during the sitting of the House. The ANP senators walked out over increased incidents of kidnapping-for-ransom in Balochistan and a PPP-P senator, Raza Rabbani, walked off because he was not satisfied with the response to the calling attention notice he had raised.
The Federal Ombudsmen Institutional Reforms Ordinance 2013 was laid and a Special Committee report on Election Issues was presented before the House. Leader of the House, Senator Jehangir Bader, also the convener of the Senate Special Committee on Election Issues, presented a report on its proposals for electoral reforms to the Senate. The report is the result of six months' work of the committee and consists of five principal sections. While many of the proposals presented in the October 2012 public hearing are not included, significant number of key issues is endorsed by the committee.