Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the government is ready to co-operate with the opposition parties for the sake of the country and democracy, but emphatically stated that no compromise would be made on corruption.
Addressing the joint sitting of the parliament, he said that the opposition parties have “nothing” to do with Pakistan’s interest and that they are trying to blackmail the government to protect their interest.
The prime minister said that during the negotiations with the government on Financial Action Task Force (FATF) legislation, the opposition had put forward amendments in 38 clauses of the National Accountability Bureau Act, which was “tantamount to burying the institution just to safeguard their interests”.
Referring to immense money laundering from the Third World to developed countries, Khan said that if (the money was) spent at home, the laundered money could help bring human development through the construction of schools, hospitals and other infrastructure.
He said that the FATF legislation is not merely essential to exclude Pakistan from the FATF’s “grey list”, but also to curb money laundering, as according to a US State Department report, around $10bn is laundered annually from Pakistan, which is nearly double the $6bn International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan obtained by the incumbent government.
As the National Assembly passed the much-awaited legislation, members of the opposition benches walked out of the session after their amendments to the proposed bills were rejected by the majority voice vote.
Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed also spoke on the FATF-related legislation, saying that they are in the best interest of the country.
Speaking to the media in Rawalpindi yesterday, he hailed the successful passage of FATF-related legislation, despite the opposition’s bid to block them, as a victory of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.
Earlier, addressing the inaugural ceremony of a new block at Railways Hospital in Rawalpindi, Ahmed said that development of education and health sectors is a priority of the present government.
He said that 80% of the work on the Mother and Child Hospital in Rawalpindi has been completed at a cost of Rs6bn.
The minister said the hospital will house 14 operation theatres.
Meanwhile, expressing immense sorrow and regret over the recent Lahore motorway gang-rape case, Prime Minister Khan said that a bill for the registration of sex offenders, effective policing, and exemplary punishment for rape and child abusers will be presented in parliament soon.
“We are thinking of passing legislation that not only protects our women, but also our children whose lives are ruined,” the premier said while addressing a joint session of the parliament that was convened to pass bills fundamental to the fulfilment of requirements set out by the FATF.
“Rape should be viewed as something that destroys lives. In our culture, families suffer also, and the children, especially, have life-long trauma,” Khan said.
Noting that the government will have a three-tiered approach towards the surging harassment cases of the country, the prime minister said: “Firstly, we will have registration. Sex offenders everywhere are registered. They are usually repeated offenders.”
“Just like (suspect) Abid. He was involved in a gang-rape in the past, and he was able to get away with it,” the prime minister said.
Khan further said that far too many incidences go unreported.
“We always find out that a small number is reported. (The planned legislation) will not only focus on exemplary punishment, but also conviction, to begin with, which is not easy.
“The kind of evidence required is very difficult to put forward,” he added.
Acknowledging that for a victim to stand in the witness box and provide a statement is also a very difficult task, the prime minister said that “comprehensive legislation” will also be introduced, keeping these aspects in mind.
Earlier this month, two armed men allegedly attacked a mother of three who stranded with two of her children on the motorway, before robbing her of money and other valuables, according to a police report on the incident.
The woman, a resident of Gujranwala, was on her way back to the city from Lahore’s Ring Road at 1.30am on Tuesday night, when her car ran out of petrol near Gujjarpura around an hour later.
The woman had waited for her husband and phoned a relative for help, who advised her to call the Motorway Police.
She called the Motorway Police’s 130 emergency helpline for assistance, but was told by the operator that she could not be provided help as the emergency beat had not been assigned to anyone.
In another unfortunate incident, five-year-old Marwah had been kidnapped after she left home in Karachi earlier this month to buy biscuits from a nearby shop.
Later, her body was found stuffed inside a bag in Essa Nagri.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Khan made a statement at the annual Austrian World Summit as a “Climate Action Hero” and shared his vision about climate change, Senator Faisal Javed Khan said.
In a tweet, Javed said that on the invitation of the former American politician and Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the premier made a statement via video as one of the climate action heroes.
“Prime Minister Imran shared his vision on how Pakistan is committed to fighting climate change, conserving biodiversity, generating green jobs, alleviating poverty, and energising the country’s youth to become custodians of a Green Future,” the premier’s aide said.
Talking about Schwarzenegger’s fight against climate change for nearly 20 years, Prime Minister Khan said that his climate initiative focuses on building awareness of the climate crisis and the urgent need for action every day.
Schwarzenegger appreciated Khan’s commitment and steps taken towards fighting climate change, Javed said, adding that the former California governor called Khan a “Climate Action Hero” and a strong and important partner in the climate action alliance.
The Austrian World Summit is managed by the Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative, a global matchmaking event for addressing climate change and sharing solutions, according to the organisation’s Twitter profile.
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