ISLAMABAD: Chairman Senate, Mian Raza Rabbani on Tuesday underlined the need for making the Economic Coordination Organization (ECO) a more active and vibrant body, having better cooperation and linkages among member states.
Addressing at two-day 3rd ECO Attorney/Prosecutors General Conference, the Chairman said, “The ECO can be made a model organizations. We need to engage all three pillars of the State including Legislature, Judiciary and Executive to make our regional organization, next to none. It shall only be achieved with our joint efforts and with clear future bonding in mind”.
He said Pakistan was willing to play its role in whatever capacity to have robust and strategic relationship amongst ECO membership.
He said the conference would discuss mechanisms for mutual legal assistance and cooperation amongst member states in fight against transnational organized crime, common principles for fight against corruption/ money laundering and preventive measures that could be taken with mutual assistance in the fight against transnational crimes, amongst other things.
Raza Rabbani said the Quetta Plan of Action was a landmark achievement of ECO, recognizing the need for connectivity of the region and commitment to develop the same to facilitate trade, interaction and harmony.
He said this Century for Asia marked the region as the centre of conspiracy to destabilize the region on ethnic, cultural and national divides. “The major players are trying to create ‘’Regional conflicting hegemonies’ to feed the cold war necessities,” he said.
He said Nations in the region lost sight of their future and stood split on ethnic and other divides for no good of their own, feeding only the purposes of ‘Major players’ in the cold war.
“The region as a whole has seen extreme waves of destabilization and Pakistan, being strategically located, has remained the forefront of this subversion,” he said.
He said destablization of one country of the Asia region is never equivalent to destabilization of one country rather its equivalent to one building block that has to craft the destiny of the region, and thus an enormous loss.
He said being signatory or ratifying international conventions relating to human trafficking, Pakistan has effectively addressed the issues of money laundering and terrorist financing. However he said these convention or treaties should not be made basis of impinging upon laws or sovereignty of a State.
He said Pakistan was taking actions on a number of fronts regarding human-trafficking and money laundering.
In 2016, Pakistan joined the Open Government Partnership, a global effort to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance, he said.
He said in 2007, Pakistan’s Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance established the Financial Monitoring Unit, an autonomous body responsible for analysing suspicious currency transactions in Pakistan.
A state of the art integrated data centre, providing the Financial Monitoring Unit with the necessary tools to analyse and interpret complex financial data, has been established at the Financial Monitoring Unit, he said.
He said it was a powerful tool to tackle money laundering and the financing of terrorism. “It is also an important part of Pakistan’s efforts to demonstrate strong and transparent financial governance,” he said.
Raza Rabbani said, “We as a region while looking at money laundering and terrorist financing in the wake of international conventions and treaties must bear in mind that these are used by Western powers selectively, as and when they need to exert pressure on a country they will exploit these instruments to meet their ends; if you bow before their needs of national security you can get away with even a murder”. He said trafficking of children and women was an issue which needed to be effectively looked into.
However, he said trafficking of migrant labour was a big question mark as it appeared to be an attempt to save your economy from cheap labour.
These poor labourers were being subjected to inhuman conditions, being killed in ship wrecks and cross border firings, he said. “We don’t ask you to unconditionally open your borders but it cannot be closed for Asian labour only while allowing your investors to come to Asian region and earn huge profits; there has to be a two way traffic,” he said.
He appreciated the efforts made by the Attorney General of Pakistan in hosting this international event and addressing hot issues including mutual legal assistance, judicial cooperation, detection and prevention of money laundering and related crimes.
In addition to the platform of legal experts, the Chairman also proposed holding of similar events for Parliamentarians and Executives in order to generate inter-regional cohesive, complimentary legislation and procedures among the Member States.
He said, “The Parliament of Pakistan (particularly the Senate of Pakistan) is an active and vocal member of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly. The Senate of Pakistan remained the APA President for the term 2014-15 and the 42 Parliaments of the APA has last month in Istanbul again elected the Senate of Pakistan to be its President for the term 2020-21”.
He said, “ We are aware that 21st century belongs to Asia. We need to have better cooperation and linkages amongst our neighbors and partners in the region that on other continents.
Earlier, Attorney General for Pakistan Mr. Ashtar Ausaf welcomed the delegates from ECO Member states.—APP