Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz on Saturday questioned the real status of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s health after it was announced he will deliver opening remarks in a live address during the opposition’s All Parties Conference tomorrow.
Faraz said that Nawaz should not consider the people “fools”.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, along with Adviser to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar, he said: “I have heard that Nawaz Sharif will deliver an address via video link […] When he has to appear before the court he claims he is ill and now all of a sudden he is fit for politics.”
Akbar said that according to Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) regulation, “an absconder cannot address a press conference”.
Faraz said that the opposition’s All Parties Conference (APC) would be a gathering of “accused and losers” that aims to spread chaos in the country.
He said the opposition wanted to rule the country to protect its “illegal wealth and properties”.
Faraz said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that he was ready to hold talks with the opposition on any issue, but he would not compromise on corruption.
The minister said the joint sitting of the parliament passed the anti-terrorism and money laundering bills to meet the requirements of Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The legislation was done in the best interest of the country and to take Pakistan out of the grey list, he said, adding the previous rulers did not pass legislation on money laundering to serve their own interests.
‘Opposition did not want money laundering to be a non-cognisable offence’
Meanwhile, Akbar defended the passing of anti-money laundering legislation in the joint sitting of parliament, alleging that the opposition did not want to turn money laundering into a non-cognisable offence which was a key demand of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The premier’s aide, while addressing a press conference in Islamabad flanked by information minister Shibli Faraz, said that there were three parties — FATF, the opposition, and the government — to the money laundering act introduced by the Centre.
The adviser explained that the law was drafted to address the loopholes in the 2010 money laundering laws, passed by the PPP in 2010.
“It was decided that those loopholes will be addressed and the law will be strengthened because due to those loopholes, there are fake accounts cases, falooda (a dessert) seller cases, and papad (crispy flatbread) seller cases,” said Akbar.
While talking about the government, Akber said it agreed with the FATF that the anti-money laundering laws should be “strict and money laundering must be controlled”.
“The PTI government wants [Pakistan] to come out of the [FATF’s] ‘grey-list’, stand shoulder to shoulder with the world and be able to say that laws in the country and their implementation are like other countries,” explained Akbar while talking about the government’s point of view.
Akbar added that during the negotiations on these laws, the opposition had “made it clear” that they did not want to accept this view.
“[Their intention was] that Shehbaz Sharif and his family’s [telegraphic transfer] case gets closed, and cases ongoing in the IHC against Asif Zardari, his family, and his frontman are shut down,” said the PM’s adviser.
He also alleged that Shahid Khaqan Abbasi wanted to “secure a deal” and get his cases closed through these laws.
The adviser further alleged that the opposition launched a “propaganda movement” to “mislead the public”. He added that the opposition, in their “campaign”, only focused on one or two things.
Akbar said that the opposition’s first objection was the “government wants to arrest people and put them in jail for six months”.
The adviser said that when he learnt of this objection, he looked into the bill and read it multiple times to see if such a law was introduced.
Akbar then took up the bill presented by the opposition and said that it was instead in the opposition bill that the power to arrest was added.
“The second clause that ‘Aristotle’ is trying to mislead the people with is on cognisable and non-cognisable offences,” said Akber. He explained that a cognisable crime is one in which an FIR can be lodged and an investigation can be initiated.
He said that a non-cognisable offence is one where “one can request the court to stop the government from investigating a charge”.
Akbar explained that by making money laundering a cognisable offence, no one’s rights were being affected, adding that he can show “dozens of offences” that are cognisable under Pakistan’s law currently.
“The only effect it has is that it is a declaration that we as a nation see money laundering as a serious offence. And FATF was demanding this statement from us (Pakistan),” said Akbar, defending the decision to turn it into a cognisable offence.
Akbar said that the opposition wants the offence to remain non-cognisable so their lawyers, who he claimed were “very clever”, use it to “extend cases for 12 years”.