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Anti-terrorism bill introduced in Pakistan National Assembly
Publication Date : 26-02-2013
The Pakistani government introduced a stronger anti-terrorism bill in the National Assembly on Monday with bars on reviving banned groups under new names and on court bails for offences punishable with death or more than 10 years in prison.
On a day the ruling Pakistan People’s Party saw one of its veteran lawmakers, Syed Zafar Ali Shah, confronting it after defecting to the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N, the house also passed a toned down version of a once-controversial bill governing a defence housing authority in Islamabad, and another to set up a centre to study the impact of global climate change.
While the Anti-Terrorism (Second Amendment) Bill will go to a house standing committee on interior for vetting before coming back for approval, some lively discussion took place on the two other government bills before being passed with consensus, with PML-N patting its own back for negotiating with military authorities to transform a previously objectionable draft into a new, acceptable Defence Housing Authority Islamabad Bill.
The new 25-clause draft came only six days after the house unanimously passed another amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 to strength provisions against terrorism-financing.
One clause of the new bill says that “if any or all office-bearers of a proscribed organisation form a new organisation under a different name, upon suspicion about their involvement in similar activities, the said organisation shall also be deemed to be a proscribed organisation and the government may issue a formal notification of its proscription”.
The bill also provides that if members of such organisations or their associates were found “continuing the activities of the proscribed organisation, they would be denied passports and foreign travel, and loans or financial support by any bank or financial institution and have their arms licences cancelled”.
In a move to meet a common complaint of law-enforcement agencies about courts releasing terrorists accused on bail, a clause of the bill says that “no court shall grant bail to a person accused of an offence under this act punishable with death or imprisonment for life or imprisonment exceeding 10 years”.