The recent passage of the National Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Authority Bill setting up an authority to combat money laundering and terror financing is in and of itself a notable achievement as it is something that Pakistan needs to do per requirements of the FATF. Since last year the government indicated its intention to set up such a mechanism based on the work done between 2018 and 2022 to exit the FATF ‘grey list’ in October 2022.
There has long been need for an overarching body “to supervise and coordinate matters pertaining to the national AML/CFT framework. At present, the work is spread vertically and horizontally — without coordination among quite a few federal and provincial departments, agencies, and institutions operating under different AML/CFT laws. The new law will allow the government to bring the National Counter Terrorism Authority and the federal Financial Monitoring Unit at the finance ministry under the proposed authority; the bill’s aim is to unify the state’s response by planning, combining, coordinating, and implementing the government’s policy through exhaustive strategic planning and necessary ancillary mechanism.”
However, as an editorial in Dawn warned, “the way that the bill was rushed by the ministers through parliament has raised many an eyebrow. Their method is especially concerning because the governing coalition has of late attempted to bulldoze numerous important laws, including those that adversely affect civil liberties and freedom of speech in the country, through parliament days before its term ends. This particular bill may be good but the government has made it controversial by disallowing a debate on it.”