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JI imposed usury removed by K-P govt

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government withdrew a bill on Wednesday that was providing a cover to banks related to interest rate on loans. This bill was framed by the finance department during the tenure of then K-P finance minister Sirajul Haq.

Current K-P finance minister Muzaffar Said moved a resolution in the assembly seeking permission to take back ‘The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Prohibition of Usurious Loan Act 2014’ which was signed by Haq. The bill was introduced to ensure that banks do not charge exorbitant interest rates on money lending, however the bill seems to be doing the exact opposite and also providing a cover for such practices. He said that this was against everything that Jamaat-e-Islami politics stands for, especially since JI has been publicly running campaigns against usury.

The bill states that if someone complains to a justice of peace about interest rates that are higher than a bank’s, then they are supposed to direct the complaint to the local police. Muzaffar said that since a similar bill has already been passed in the assembly, this one is being withdrawn to avoid repetition. The bill was passed last year.

The government also took back the K-P Censorship of Motion Pictures (Films, CDs, Videos, Stage Dramas and Show) Act 2015. The bill was passed to establish a censor board that would regulate content aired on television and cinemas, ensuring that it is not a threat to national security and complies with the standards of morality of the country. Furthermore it enabled the censor board to cut out any portion of a film or drama if it did not meet specified guidelines. Culture minister Mehmood Khan said the bill was withdrawn so that it can be streamlined and be made more comprehensive, with a further reaching jurisdiction.

The assembly passed a resolution urging the federal government and ministry of foreign affairs to speak up against the atrocities against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Muzaffar moved the resolution – signed by members of JI and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) – asking the federal government to take up the issue at the United Nations and other international forums. The opposition members did not sign or support the resolution, as they were boycotting the session, as they did not appreciate deputy speaker Dr Mehar Taj Roghani taking the government’s side in the assembly.

Roghani deliberately delayed the question from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker Shiraz Khan and did not put it before the house for voting, as the opposition members sat in larger numbers than the government and she was sure they would lose the count. Shiraz has asked about the appointments in the Gadoon Industrial Estate to be sent to the standing committee so that they could be analysed in detail. Shiraz lamented that despite the industrial state being in his constituency, people from Karak, Peshawar and other constituencies of Swabi were appointed and his people were ignored.

Chief minister’s special assistant for Law Arif Yousuf was against referring the appointments to the standing committee, while Shiraz and other opposition members were asking Roghani to put the question before the house for a vote. Even K-P government spokesperson Shah Farman after the opposition’s insistence said Roghani should put it for voting but she refused, acknowledging in a low voice that the members from the government were not present in robust numbers.

She eventually did put the question to vote but she provided enough time so that Farman could gather members sitting in lobbies to the house. The opposition was enraged and walked out of the house, affecting the quorum. The session was then adjourned till October 4.

The Express Tribune

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