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Monday, November 27, 2023

Opposition blackmailing government on FATF-related legislation: PM Imran

In a wide-ranging interview, PM Imran warns opposition of failing Pakistan at FATF and crippling economic consequences if new legislation isn't passed

Opposition parties in Pakistan are blackmailing the government over the proposed amendments to anti-terror and anti-money laundering laws tabled by the ruling party in parliament earlier this month as part of an effort to get the country out of the ‘grey list’ of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday.

Speaking to journalist Arshad Sharif in an exclusive interview aired by ARY News on Thursday night, PM Imran doubled down on his political opponents, accusing them of blocking FATF-related legislation just to seek personal gains. “34 of the 38 amendments so far tabled by the opposition in parliament relate to changes in laws of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB),” he added.

Opposition parties, who dominate the Upper House of the parliament, had earlier this week blocked the successful passage of FATF-related legislation in Senate. The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-dominated National Assembly had on Tuesday passed the bills in the Lower House. The premier, in his interview with Chaudhry, appeared visibly unhappy over the outcome.

“The opposition parties want NAB laws in Pakistan to be changed. This is a merely a tactic to blackmail the government to grant them a National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO),” PM Imran quipped, referring to an infamous deal between former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf and slain prime minister Benazir Bhutto in which the former had granted the latter immunity from corruption cases in exchange for political capital.

Read more: PTI Government rejects opposition’s proposed amendments to NAB Law

According to sources, the PTI government has now called for a joint session of the parliament, to be held on August 30, to pass two FATF-related laws. In the interview, PM Imran warned the opposition leaders of the consequences of blocking the bills again. “If the bills are blocked yet again, the whole world will know who failed Pakistan on FATF,” he noted.

PM Imran further maintained that the troubles of Pakistan at the FATF were a direct result of Indian interference at the body. “The FATF pressure on Pakistan to tighten laws is part of an effort by India to cripple the Pakistani economy,” he said. “If Pakistan is pushed into the FATF blacklist, there would be serious economic consequences. The dollar would skyrocket and it would be difficult to import or export things to and from Pakistan.”

Despite the setback in Senate, the premier has on multiple occasions asserted that his government will not grant an NRO to the opposition under any circumstances, even if it leads to the fall of his government. Presently, the ruling party enjoys a slender majority in the Lower House, and if any of the government allies were to switch loyalties, a no-confidence motion against the premier could result in disastrous consequences for PM Imran.

Read more: The FATF ghost is staring Pakistan in the face

However, PM Imran has appeared equal to the task. Instead of backing down, he has increased his attacks on the opposition in recent weeks. He has given wide-ranging interviews to two prominent journalists and even took to social networking platform Twitter to voice his annoyance over the blockage of FATF-related legislation.

On Tuesday, the premier said that the self-serving interests of the opposition and the interests of the country were on diverging paths. “As accountability noose has tightened, the opposition leaders have become desperate to save their corrupt money by trying to prevent parliament from functioning,” he remarked.

Read more: No NRO-like deal for corrupt opposition leaders, clarifies PM Khan

“Opposition tries to hide behind facade of democracy to protect their loot and plunder. To blackmail for NRO by defanging NAB, they would even have Pakistan put on FATF black -ist to destroy the nation’s economy and increase poverty. They keep threatening to bring down govt unless given NRO,” he added.