Pakistan is a test case for the fairness of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as the country has met almost all the requirements to exit the grey list, Federal Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem said.
Naseem said the international watchdog needs to apply laws to all countries without any prejudice.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of an event in Istanbul, Naseem proposed the establishment of a joint legal forum between Pakistan and Turkey besides intern exchange programmes and the sharing of experiences between lawyer communities of the two countries.
He said Pakistani and Turkish lawyers are “capable of fighting their own cases at all forums”.
In a conversation with a group of Turkish lawyers hosted by 2nd number Bar Association of Istanbul in honour of Pakistan Law and Justice minister, Naseem said former judges and lawyers of the two countries could come together and the two countries could together fight cases of a commercial nature in the international arena.
Referring to illegal immigration to Turkey, he said officials from Pakistan and Turkey were “working on a daily basis to cease this problem”.
Naseem also discussed what he called the “transformation taking place in Pakistan” with regard to the delivery of justice after new laws were brought in by his ministry.
His ministry has proposed around 650 amendments to the National Assembly to make the dispensation of justice “fast and durable”.
‘Test case for fairness’
Naseem said Pakistan has done “everything” to get off FATF’s grey list.
“Out of I think 27 points, we have reached the 26th score,” he told Anadolu Agency.
“Even the FATF people are good people. I’m not being critical against them…But as long as these (FATF) standards are universally applied, and not applied to only Pakistan, and as long as there is no international politics, then we welcome FATF. Let it be applied to everyone,” he said, questioning why Pakistan was still on the list.
“There should be no international politics, but FATF is being used to arm twist. Then what can we say?”
The France-based FATF, founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G-7, an organisation of the world’s seven largest advanced countries, monitors countries’ money flow and penalises those whose financial systems are abused for money laundering and terrorism activities.
Pakistan has been on the grey list since June 2018 for alleged deficiencies in its counter terror-financing and anti-money laundering regimes.
However, FATF has acknowledged that Pakistan has made “progress”.
“I think we have met all objectives. At the (FATF) October session, Pakistan is going to give a very good roundup of whatever it has done,” Naseem said.
“I’m very hopeful,” he said when asked whether Pakistan will exit the list.
He said the Pakistani case was “actually a test of FATF’s fairness”.
“And I’d like to believe it’s a fair system. These international standards should be applied everywhere to every country.”
Naseem said Pakistan was “grateful to Turkish brothers” for their support at the FATF besides China.
‘Pakistan witnessing transformation in justice system’
Touching on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s struggle for a country where the dispensation of justice is “fast and durable,” Naseem said with PTI government in power for three years, “this transformation has already started”.
“We have made a new law, the inheritance law, and it takes 15 days for the succession certificate or the letter of administration to be issued,” the minister said.
He said earlier that it would “take four to seven years for a court to decide” about the letter of administration or a succession certificate.
Letter of Administration or succession certificate is an official document that grants an individual permission to access and manage property after someone dies.
“Then we made an attempt with the Civil Procedure Court. As you know that in India and Pakistan, it takes about 20 to 30 years before any civil dispute is settled. The problem is not just in Pakistan, but in many other countries. So what we did is that we made amendments, and those amendments ensure that a civil case would be tried within one year. It is working in Islamabad, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. In Punjab, there is a little problem,” he added.
The minister said Pakistan is also working on women’s empowerment laws, calling it “a very big step.”
He said women, whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated, can file a case with regard to property rights with female ombudsmen, who are “available all over Pakistan.”
“Those women ombudsmen would decide their cases in between three to six months. So again, a great expedition (of case disposal) is available as far as that is concerned.”
Naseem said many amendments have been brought to “revamp the criminal justice system of Pakistan.”
“We have proposed about 650 amendments, and I think it’ll take a few months before they are passed by the National Assembly and the Senate,” he said.
“Once it is done, a criminal trial, which takes years, will finish in nine months. These are matters which are not transformed in two or three years,” he said, citing the UK as an example, where civil law reforms took about 20 years.
Criticising Western capitals, he questioned the silence of these countries over Indian atrocities in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
“Why aren’t they talking about the human rights abuses in Kashmir [IIOJK]? Why aren’t they saying something about blatant human rights abuse by India in Kashmir? Why not a single word?” he said, even asking why India was not under the radar of FATF.
‘Pakistan is a responsible state’
Naseem said Pakistan was a “responsible state” when asked about the review of a case pertaining to Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian spy who is in Pakistani custody.
“Pakistan is a responsible state. Pakistan is a party to the Vienna Convention. So if it is a party to the Vienna Convention, it means that the International Court of Justice [ICJ] would have jurisdiction with regard to any issues of consular access,” the minister said regarding the case of Jadhav, who was arrested by the Pakistani military in early 2016 and was sentenced to death a year later for “subversive activities against Pakistan”.
‘Onus on United Nations to act on Kashmir’
On the way forward on the Kashmir dispute resolution, the law minister put the onus on the UN.
“Pakistan will not undo the Shimla Agreement,” he said when asked about India scrapping the semi-autonomous status of the IIOJK in 2019.
“Pakistan believes in the various resolutions which have been passed by the United Nations Security Council [on Kashmir]. Pakistan is a responsible state, unlike India, which is a rogue state. India has violated the Shimla pact and the United Nations Security Council resolutions blatantly, and therefore, it is the responsibility of the United Nations to take action,” Naseem said.
On Aug 5, 2019, India revoked special provisions granted to IIOJK under Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution.
The move invited a sharp reaction from Pakistan and other nations, including Turkey, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
“It is more than Pakistan’s problem. It is now the writ of the United Nations which is at stake. The United Nations cannot see that its writ has been completely tarnished by the Indian government. There is a problem with regard to the functioning of the United Nations, and the United Nations will have to really take this up,” he added.