NA passes anti-terrorism amendment bill

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Friday passed three bills unanimously including the Anti-terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2014, to amend the Anti-terrorism Act 1997.

The Anti-terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2014, moved by Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan, Chaudhry Birjis Tahir, would compel security forces to seek permission from a Grade-17 officer or a magistrate before opening fire on suspects.

Earlier, the Senate had conditionally approved an earlier version of the bill on the assurance of the government that their amendments and proposals would be incorporated into the bill in the weeks after the budget session on Wednesday.

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, making the tribunals financially autonomous and empowering them to implement their decisions.

Earlier, the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Syed Khurshid Shah said that the last government of the PPP passed more than 100 bills during its five-year term with consensus, including landmark amendments to the Constitution. “It was the record in the parliamentary history of Pakistan,” he said.

Shah said that it is unfortunate that the PML-N government had failed to pass a single bill during the past one year of its tenure.

He said the government requested the opposition to support it in the parliament for the legislation while the opposition had agreed to conditionally support the bills on the assurance of the government that their amendments and proposals would be incorporated into the bills in the weeks after the budget session.

Later, initiating the debate on the budget, the opposition leader said that the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised that his government would break the begging bowl but it did contrary to it.

He said that the government issued statutory regulatory order (SRO) on the next day of budget presentation in the National Assembly while it imposed 17 per cent tax on steel and iron in the country.

“The government should have prepared the budget according to the desires of the nation,” he added.

The ongoing budget session would continue till June 21 as it was decided in the meeting of the Business Advisory Committee of the National Assembly.