Parliamentary panel to review NAB laws

Government moves motion in National Assembly which was unanimously adopted. PHOTO: INP

Government moves motion in National Assembly which was unanimously adopted. PHOTO: INP

ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday adopted a motion in the National Assembly to set up a parliamentary committee to revisit the National Accountability Ordinance 1999.

Law and Justice Minister Zahid Hamid moved the motion in the house which was unanimously adopted. According to it, the proposed committee will have 20 members, from both government and opposition.

Before moving the motion, Zahid said different parties had been seeking amendments in the laws governing the National Accountability Bureau.  Opposition parties in both houses of parliament have been clamouring to clip the bureau’s powers and accused it of ‘harassing’ opponents of the government. In April, the government and opposition blamed each other in Senate for failing to the amend accountability laws.

The Pakistan Peoples Party criticised NAB in particular when the bureau began investigating Dr Asim Hussain, a close associate of the party’s co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. PPP has primarily been lobbying for deletion of NAB ordinance provisions which extend the bureau’s jurisdictions to provincial government departments. In place, it has advocated provincial anti-corruption watchdogs.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Arif Alvi has also moved an amendment bill pertaining to NAB. One of its provisions has called for taking parliament’s advice into account when appointing a NAB chief. It proposes the head of the bureau be selected by a parliamentary committee and the appointment process be conducted the way chief election commissioner is picked. Alvi’s bill also criticised NAB’s current plea bargain process as unfair.

The NAB Ordinance 1999 was enacted by former president of Pakistan General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. Some claim the ordinance was aimed at suppressing his political opponents.

The government had often told parliament it would revamp NAB laws, but it kept on dillydallying until Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly on Wednesday adopted another motion granting extension to a sub-committee of the parliamentary panel on electoral reforms to present its report.

Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai was also all set to respond to the speech of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in which he criticised the lampooning of intelligence agencies.

Talking to reporters after the proceedings, Achakzai claimed he received a note saying ‘no please’ when he sent his request for a speech on the matter to the speaker.

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