Pakistan approves draft bill to tackle financing of terrorism
Islamabad: The Pakistan government on Wednesday approved two draft bills aimed at tackling the financing of terrorism and governing the collection of evidence through modern techniques and electronic devices.
A meeting of the cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf approved the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill and the Investigation for Fair Trial Bill, an official statement said.
The second bill was cleared after some amendments.
The Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill contains measures to address shortcomings in the provisions covering the financing of terrorism in the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997.
It strengthens provisions on terrorism financing and covers all aspects in the light of international standards.
The bill also provides "more effective measures for law enforcement agencies to investigate" such offences.
Provisions on freezing, seizing and forfeiture of property involved in financing terrorism have been strengthened to ensure better detected and seizure of propert after due process of law, the statement said.
The Investigation for Fair Trial Bill covers the "collection of evidence by means of modern techniques and devices" during investigations to prevent and effectively deal with offences.
The bill also regulates the powers of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to prevent them from using their powers arbitrarily, the statement said.
The government felt it was necessary to regulate these powers and to provide for their fair use "in accordance with law and under proper executive and judicial oversight" keeping in view of Article 10A of the Constitution, which pertains to the right to fair trial.
The bill will "provide for admissibility and use of the material collected during investigation under the present law in judicial proceedings and all other legal proceedings or processes to ensure fair trial", the statement said.
The government has faced criticism from the judiciary and rights activists for its failure to rein in activities of the powerful intelligence agencies, especially the tapping of phones and detention of people without charge.
The Supreme Court is currently pushing the military and intelligence agencies to free "missing persons" or those detained without charge.
On the other hand, the US has been critical of the Pakistan government's efforts to tackle the financing of terrorism.
The US has said that Pakistani laws in this field are not in consonance with regulations put in place around the globe to cut off funding for terrorists.
During the cabinet meeting, the prime minister reiterated
hi government's resolve to confront the scourge of terrorism with all available resources.
He condemned a recent wave of terrorism in Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan and said such acts can never deter the government's resolve to fight terrorism.
While asserting that those responsible for terrorist acts will be brought to book, Ashraf directed law enforcement agencies to beef up security and urged provincial governments to keep a vigilant eye on any suspicious activity and to evolve a mechanism to counter any terrorist act "with iron hands".
The Prime Minister also asked the Provincial Government of Balochistan to implement Supreme Court's verdict in order to improve law and order situation in the Province.
He assured that the Federal Government would extend all out assistance to the Balochistan Government and all possible measures would be taken for improvement in law and order situation, not only in Balochistan but throughout the country.
The cabinet also approved a bill to cope with leakage, pilferage and theft of electricity.
The bill provides for rigorous imprisonment of up to three years and fines of up to Rs 10 million for transmission offences and prison terms of two years and fines of Rs 3 million for distribution offences.