National Assembly passes bill to curb terrorism financing

The National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday passed the Anti-Terrorism (Third Amendment) Bill, 2020 aimed at using new techniques to investigate terrorism and its financing.

The bill was moved by Faheem Khan. The legislation is an important one as it seeks to implement laws against terror financing and money laundering so that Pakistan does not make the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) black list.

The bill states that for 60 days the investigation officer will have a permit to use certain techniques to ascertain where the money to fund the terrorist activity was received from. These techniques include tracking down communications and monitoring the computer systems of the suspects. A written request to the court can be given to obtain an extension for 60 more days.

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was also introduced in the House by Amjad Ali Khan. The bill proposed amendments in the Pakistan Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure, penalising the intentional ridiculing and defaming of the armed forces of Pakistan or any of its member.

A person guilty of such offence will be punished with imprisonment for a term up to two years or fined for up to Rs500,000.

The purpose of this amendment is “to prevent hatred and disrespectful behavior against the armed forces”.

The lower house was informed that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has been carrying out relief and rescue operations in the rain-hit areas across the country.

Responding to a calling attention notice, Advisor on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan said currently Chairman NDMA, Lt General Muhammad Afzal, along with teams of experts, is visiting Sindh to personally monitor the relief efforts. He said that food packages and tents have also been distributed among the rain affected people across Pakistan.

Later, the House resumed discussion on the situation arising out of unfortunate crime of gang rape against a woman on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway.

Taking part in the discussion, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry stressed the need to reform the justice system in Pakistan to increase conviction rate in rape cases to prevent such inhuman acts in the society.

He said that a rape victim should be treated as victim of violence and women investigation officer should be appointed to handle these cases. He added that improving the justice system in the country would help in combating the rise in rape and harassment cases rather than hanging.

He also said that that incidents such as that of the Lahore motorway gang rape would vanish from memories in the next couple of days as it happened in previous cases of similar intensity. The federal minister said that the accused involved in the Zainab case was arrested and hanged. “The public sentiment against the incident died down after the punishment, however, the rape cases continued unabated even after this,” he added.

Sharing the figures, the minister said that only 5 per cent of convictions have been made in the rape cases and this figure is other than the cases that are not reported to the police.

Many sexual assault cases go unreported as victims fear that someone might say as to why you have gone out without checking fuel, he said while taking a jibe at the Lahore CCPO over his controversial remarks.

He said that there are suggestions that rape culprits be hanged, however, it would have been easy if it would have resolved the rising rape cases.

The minister further lamented that the man allegedly involved in the motorway case was released earlier in a similar case after securing a deal with the victim. “The solution of this problem lies in improving the justice system in the country,” he said.

Minister for Narcotics Control Azam Swati said exemplary punishment should be given to the culprits involved in rape incidents.

This House also passed a resolution urging the government to direct the police, investigation institutions and media not to broadcast or publish the ethnic identity of any accused or criminal until and unless his/her ethnic identity is registered on his/her identity card. The resolution was tabled by MNA Saifur Rehman and signed by other lawmakers.

Another resolution submitted by Rehman stated that the government may direct police, investigation agencies and media that no information about the arrest of any accused may leaked to public at large which may benefit the accused in any way. That resolution was also passed by the House.