- Interior Ministry to finalise rules to issue arms licenses within a month
Officials from interior ministry have said that draft for a new anti-terrorism bill has been finalised which will replace the Protection of Pakistan Act 2014 (POPA), which has expired after completion of its stipulated two-year term, and Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 (ATA). The new draft will merge both these laws and is supposed to bring improvement to its implementation and procedure. At present, the Ministry of Law and Justice is reviewing the draft sent by the interior ministry.
This was disclosed by Secretary Interior Shahid Khan who was responding to queries during the 30th meeting of the Standing Committee on Interior and Narcotics Control here on Wednesday under the chairmanship of MNA Rana Shamim Ahmad Khan.
The POPA 2014 expired recently as it was given sunset clause of two years. The country is in need of a proper law to handle terrorism cases.
The committee was also informed that recommendations for the approval of arms licenses to Members of National Assembly, Senators and general public have been prepared and will be finalised within a month.
Back in 2013, a blanket ban was imposed by the PML-N government on issuing arms licenses for both prohibited and non-prohibited arms. However, after three years of ban, the interior minister decided to issue limited arms licenses in September 2016 to those individuals who fulfilled criteria set by his ministry. A month ago, Punjab government also lifted the ban on issuing arms licenses after three years.
The committee also adopted Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2014 which called for a revision of penalties for various crimes. The amended act raises the punishment for robbery from two years to five years.
While the whole committee unanimously passed ‘The Illegal Dispossession (Amendment) Bill 2016’, Mr Salman Khan Baloch, MNA from MQM, not only opposed the bill but a verbal skirmish also took place between Mr Baloch and Chairman Rana Shamim Ahmed Khan. However, the bill passed by a majority of votes.
The committee took up a total of ten different government and private member bills. Due to a large number of pending bills by private members, the Committee on Interior and Narcotics Control constituted a sub-committee under the Syed Javed Ali Shah. The sub-committee has been empowered to consider all the private member bills pending before the main committee and submit its report within 30 days to the main committee.
MNAs Syed Javed Ali Shah, Ghalib Khan, Sheikh Muhammad Akram, Syed Iftikhar-ul-Hassan, Mian Shahid Hussain Khan Bhatti, Salman Khan Baloch, Naeema Kishwer Khan, Sher Akber Khan, Kishwer Zehra, Asiya Nasir and Surriya Asghar attended the meeting besides senior officers from the ministry of interior and narcotics control, and the ministry of law and justice.