ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Friday unanimously passed the Anti-terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2014, finally empowering the government to implement its strategy to rein in the menace of terrorism.
Contrary to the previous provisions of the bill that would give shoot-at-sight powers to the law enforcement agencies, the amended version, moved by Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Chaudhry Birjis Tahir, binds security forces to seek permission from a grade-17 officer or a magistrate before opening fire on suspects.
The passage of the bill comes two days after the Upper House, dominated by opposition parties, conditionally approved an earlier version of the bill on assurance by the government that their amendments and proposals would be incorporated when treasury tables the amended bill in the National Assembly.
The amended bill will deal with terrorists and elements financing the terrorist outfits besides those involved in money laundering.
The amendments lay emphasis on further legislation so as to make the law enforcement agencies more affective, particularly granting the Rangers powers to investigate.
The amendments also make it binding for the security forces to seek permission from a grade-17 officer or a magistrate before opening fire on the suspected terrorists.
Statements of the witnesses could be recorded in-camera to ensure them protection whereas suspects involved in anti-state activities, extortion or target killings could be kept under detention for 90 days, the draft says. Any officer found guilty of arrest of a suspect on the basis of false allegations could face two-year imprisonment besides fine.
The House also opened debate on federal budget 2014-15. Being the first to speak on budget, Khursheed Shah said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised that his government would break the begging bowl but the situation is contrary to it. He said that the government issued statutory regulatory order very next day of budget presentation in the National Assembly, imposing 17 per cent tax on steel and iron products.
“The government should have prepared the budget according to the needs of the country rather than dictation of an international organisation,” he said.
Earlier, the Lower House also passed the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils (Amendment) Bill 2014, to amend the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act 1973, and the Services Tribunals (Amendment) Bill 2014, to amend the Services Tribunal Act 1973.
The Services Tribunal Bill seeks to bring appointments of tribunal members in line with the procedures followed for appointments to the judiciary.
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