Senate panel seeks changes in ATA

ISLAMABAD - The Senate Standing Committee on Interior Saturday terming several clauses of the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) as violation of basic human rights indicated that it wanted to bring some drastic changes in it. The proposed Anti-Terrorism Act that was presented in the Upper House of the Parliament last year has been lying pending with the parliamentary panel for around a year for its recommendations on it. The bill will be forwarded to the Lower House of the Parliament to change it into the law after passage from the Upper House, once the committee would give its recommendations of it. The committee that met in the Parliament House under the Chairmanship of Senator Talha Mahmood also observed that it could not give its nod to the bill in one-go by just closing its eye as it was a matter of human rights and its several members have reservations over some clauses of the bill. The committees response came at a time when Interior Minister Rehamn Malik recently on the floor of the Senate had lamented that the committee had not given its recommendations on the proposed law even after the passage of several months and at a time when amendments in the anti-terrorism law were the need of the hour. While discussing other agenda items, Secretary Interior Khawaja Siddique Akbar informed the Parliamentary Committee that the federal government had seized issuing of prohibited and non-prohibited arms licenses sine July 1st after the devolution of this subject to the provinces as a result of 18th Amendment. The committee was told that the federal government was only issuing all kinds of licenses to the residents of ICT. Secretary Interior further said that all three provinces except Punjab had endorsed the Centres stance that the powers to issue prohibited arms licenses should be retained with the Prime Minister and ultimately the federal government. The three provinces would have to get separate resolutions passed in their respective provincial assemblies for it and then matter would be settled in the Council of Common Interest, he said.

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