ISLAMABAD: In a significant development, Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani decided to drop the Prevention of Violent Extremism Bill following vehement opposition from fellow members during the House session.
The Prevention of Violent Extremism Bill 2023 was introduced by Minister of State Shahadat Ewan in the House, prompting the Senate Chairman to seek the House’s opinion on the proposed legislation.
Senator Irfan Siddiqui expressed the bill’s importance but criticized its hasty passage without prior committee review. He cautioned against the potential misuse of the bill, fearing anyone could become its unintended victim.
Senator Abdul Ghafoor Haidari raised concerns about the bill’s impact on basic human rights, while Senator Kamran Murtaza contended that any legislation contradicting the constitution and the law should not be endorsed. Additionally, Senator Tahir Bizenjo threatened a token walkout from the House if the bill was approved.
Senator Mushtaq Ahmed stated that the bill transcended political boundaries and could adversely affect all parties, asserting his opposition to it.
Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani clarified that the meeting’s purpose was not to discuss the bill but to complete the House’s schedule. He made the decisive move to drop the bill in response to the widespread resistance from members.
Federal Minister Sherry Rehman defended the urgency of passing the bill, assuring that the government would introduce amendments to address concerns.
Text of the Bill:
According to the bill’s content, violent extremism encompasses the use of force and violence in matters pertaining to ideology, religion, and politics. It also includes intimidation and incitement for sectarian purposes, as well as support for sectarianism, which is outlawed. The bill further prohibits financing individuals or organizations involved in violent extremism or inciting violence and hostility.
The proposed bill defines providing protection and shelter to a scheduled person as an act of violent extremism. Additionally, praising violent extremism and disseminating information about it fall within the ambit of the bill.
Lists of Violent Extremism:
The government has the authority to include individuals or organizations in two separate lists regarding violent extremism.
List 1 comprises organizations involved in violent extremism, particularly those led by violent leaders. Additionally, organizations that resurface with a name change are also included in this list.
List 2 encompasses individuals involved in violent extremism and violent organizations, as well as leaders and financiers supporting such organizations. The bill aims to impose a ban on those listed in this category.
The bill proposes stringent measures to combat terrorism within Pakistan, aiming to restrict the movement of terrorist organization leaders and individuals. Additionally, it empowers the government to conduct thorough investigations into the assets of such organizations.
Furthermore, the bill emphasizes close monitoring of activities carried out by leaders, officials, and members affiliated with violent organizations. It seeks to implement strict measures such as the confiscation of passports for these individuals, effectively preventing them from traveling abroad.
In accordance with the bill’s provisions, leaders, officials, and members associated with violent organizations face the revocation of their arms licenses, as well as the freezing of assets, properties, and bank accounts. Moreover, these violent organizations will be prohibited from participating in elections, and any financial institution providing support to their members or officials will face legal repercussions.
The bill also includes a provision allowing the detention of individuals listed under its scope for a period ranging from 90 days to 12 months.