Stringent terror laws on the anvil


ISLAMABAD – The federal cabinet on Friday approved a draft of amendments to anti-terrorism laws in an effort to further empower law enforcement agencies for better handling of terror-related cases. The bill also promises more powers for the Rangers and protection of witnesses in terrorism cases. Federal Minister Zahid Hamid presented the Anti-Terrorism (Third Amendment) Bill 2013 in the cabinet session chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The amendments seek to aid security forces and law enforcement agencies by providing them special prosecution powers in cases related to terrorism.
The amendments suggest that witnesses and prosecutors in cases related to terrorism should also be provided security, and that intelligence and security agencies can be requested to provide support during the interrogation of terrorism suspects.
The bill also includes an amendment that necessitates swift proceedings in terrorism cases and allows for suspects in such cases to be held in custody for 90 days before being presented in court under the Anti-Terrorism Act. According to reports, the cabinet also approved amendments to form special courts for swift proceedings and early disposal of terrorism cases within 30 days.
Under the proposed bill, Rangers will have the powers to shoot target killers and extortionists on the spot. Similarly, they will have also power to shoot down the culprits involved in kidnapping for ransom‚ playing with law and order and destructing national assets.
The PM directed to refer the bill to Interior and Law ministries for review before presenting it to the parliament. In his remarks, PM Nawaz expressed satisfaction over the ongoing targeted action in Karachi.
The prime minister, taking notice of the absence of some federal ministers from the National Assembly and Senate, said that strict action will be taken against the absentee ministers.
The cabinet in its meeting also decided to constitute a special committee to review the proposed bill for local bodies system in the federal capital. It also approved co-financing of Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project and negotiations of additional loan agreement of $100 million to reduce the funding gap of $375 million.
The cabinet the Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Act 2013 and formed a committee under the interior minister to further deliberate on it. The cabinet also approved in principle to the Prime Minister’s Programme for the Youth. The cabinet approved signing of MoU with UK for enhancing cooperation in the field of narcotics control. It also approved signing of MoU with Turkmenistan on defence cooperation.