Pakistan’s lower house passes forced disappearances bill for second time

Islamabad, Oct 22: Pakistan’s lower house of the Parliament has passed for the second time the bill seeking to declare forced disappearances a heinous crime.
The bill was passed on Friday after Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar agreed to withdraw the controversial Section 514 from the Criminal Laws (Amend­ment) Bill, 2022, which provided for punishment to those filing false complaints.
The section was removed after a number of lawmakers, mostly belonging to the parties in the ruling coalition, had protested over it and refused to vote for the bill in the present form, Dawn newspaper reported.
Commerce Minister Naveed Qamar, after Tarar’s statement, moved the amendment seeking to omit the controversial section from the bill aimed at criminalising enforced disappearances through amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898.
The omitted section stated that “whoever files a complaint or gives information that proves to be false he or another person has been subjected to enforced, forced or involuntary disappearance or an attempt has been made in this regard, shall be guilty of an offence punishable up to five-year imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 100,000”.
The bill was later unanimously passed by the house which was once again clearly lacking quorum — for which the presence of 86 members (one-fourth of the total 342-member house) is required.
It was drafted by the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government and piloted by former interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.
The lower house — National Assembly — had passed the bill in November last year. However, the government needed to bring it back to the assembly as the Senate — upper house — had passed the bill on Thursday with a few amendments.
The Senate is now again required to pass the bill in order to make it an act of the parliament.
The issue of forced disappearances has been in the headlines for years, especially in Balochistan, Karachi, and tribal regions where the security forces have been fighting against terrorists and rebels.
Besides this, the National Assembly also passed the Inter-Governmental Commercial Transactions Bill, 2022, aimed at encouraging foreign states to have economic and business relations with Pakistan.
The lower house also passed a resolution condemning New Delhi ahead of the 75th anniversary of Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India, according to Dawn. (PTI)