Government compromises on national sovereignty by passing MLA bill: Siraj ul Haq

JI Pakistan has rejected Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) Bill 2020 saying this bill has been passed to put Pakistan under bondage of IMF and World Bank (WB) forever.

MLA bill

JI Pakistan has rejected Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) Bill 2020 saying this bill has been passed to put Pakistan under bondage of IMF and World Bank (WB) forever.

JI rejects MLA bill

“This bill has been passed to keep Pakistan under slavery of IMF and World Bank forever. We reject it,” said JI Amir Siraj Ul Haq while reacting to passage of bill on Friday. He held that just like the past, both PPP and PML-N played the role of a silent facilitator for government in passage of this bill.

Any legislation under the global pressure is not in the interest of the country, he cautioned. The government neither makes consultations nor does it respect the public opinion. He alleged PTI has always settled matters on pursing the ‘give and take’ doctrine with other major parties.

Taking the Bill into consideration, JI Amir said that government has compromised on the national integrity and sovereignty of the country  in return for some dollars. “We are  independent citizens of an independent country. Protecting our freedom and national sovereignty is our obligation,” he stressed.

Under this bill Pakistani citizens will be handed over to other countries, he stated.

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Parliament passed MLA Bill – 2020 but protest ensued

The joint sitting of the Parliament on Thursday passed the Mutual Legal Assistance (Criminal Matters) Bill-2020 with majority voice after reaching consensus with the main opposition parties, the PML-N and PPP.

The bill is aimed at providing legal support to the requesting state (foreign country) by executing necessary actions on its territory in criminal cases warranting shared assistance.

The legislation, however, was rejected by the JUI-F, JI, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), National Party and Mohsin Dawar. Former chairman Senate and senior leader of the PPP Mian Raza Rabbani also abstained from voting in the passage of the bill.

The protesting members continued to raise slogans of “No, No” during passage of the bill.

Shahbaz Sharif voiced his disapproval over opposition parliamentarians not being given an opportunity to express their concern. “This is against traditions of the Parliament,” he said, adding that Maulana Asad Mehmood and Sirajul Haq wanted to speak on the bill.

What is the MLA bill?

The law proposes exchange of information and criminals with countries to meet a requirement of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

An increase in transnational organized crime has made it necessary for the international community, and Pakistan, to improve the effectiveness of this instrument. Currently Lack of uniformity in law and weak coordination mechanisms between countries affect combating of crime across borders. In order to overcome these challenges legal cover is essentially required.

Mutual legal assistance would bridge the existing gaps between states coordinating on and enforcing the law.  The requested state will provide legal support to the requesting state by executing necessary actions on its territory in criminal cases warranting shared assistance.

Read More: Pakistani Parliament: Democratic Institution or Colonial Tool?

Amendments to the MLA bill

The government initiated the bill in the National Assembly on September 13, 2019 and it was passed there on January 06, 2020. However, it was not passed by the Senate within 90 days and tabled in the joint session of Parliament.

PPP’s Agha Rafiullah and PML-N’s Mohsin Shah Nawaz Ranjha withdrew their amendments to the bill. All the amendments moved by the Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem were passed by the House. Two new clauses 27 and 28 were inserted in the bill which were passed by the House.

The government accommodated an amendment proposed by Shahbaz Sharif which says that mutual assistance would be refused if request made by a state is in violation of International Convention on Human Rights.

Resolultion on IOJ&K

The joint sitting unanimously adopted a resolution, rejecting emphatically India’s illegal and unilateral actions in IOJ&K since August 05, 2019.The resolution said that Kashmir is an internationally recognised dispute and longest outstanding item on the agenda of UN Security Council, categorically stating that illegal steps cannot alter the disputed status of the territory.

Reiterating Pakistan’s full support to the Kashmiri people in their legitimate struggle for right to self-determination, the Parliament demanded the Indian government to immediately lift military siege in IOJ&K and rescind the illegal and unilateral actions of August 05, 2019.

The joint sitting of the Parliament demanded India to remove restrictions on media, internet, movement and peaceful assembly in the occupied territory, besides, repealing the draconian laws. Parliament in its resolution stressed the BJP government’s threatening statements, belligerent rhetoric and irresponsible posture which pose a grave threat to peace and stability in South Asia.

Parliament also welcomed the three discussions on the Kashmir dispute at the United Nations Security Council after a gap of fifty-five years.

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Session discourse

Shahbaz Sharif in his speech said the efforts of the PTI government on Kashmir were confined to mere passage of few resolutions.

He said on one hand Imran Khan advises the nation to watch drama “Ertughal’ and on the other hand he keeps waiting for call from Modi. “This is also a matter of shame for us that Modi never receives calls from our prime minister,” he said.

“Today the government has nothing for Kashmiris except from speeches, writings and telephone calls,” he said, adding there has been complete silence on Kashmir issue.

Shahbaz Sharif alleged that the present government was damaging the Kashmir cause.

Minister for Communication Murad Saeed said the opposition accuses the government of changing names of highways to names of IOJ&K cities. “They themselves removes boards of Kashmir when then Indian prime minister visited Islamabad,” he recalled.

He said that Nawaz Sharif not only invited Modi at wedding ceremony, but also made Sajan Jandal as his guest. “When questioned, he said we have personal relations,” Murad Saeed said.

Shahbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto left the House during speech of the minister for communication who alleged that Pakistan was placed in grey list of FATF because of then PPP and PML-N governments.

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