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Opposition, lawyers term NAB law illegal, an NRO

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Opposition, lawyers term NAB law illegal, an NRO

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Thursday rejected the NAB Amendment Ordinance and said that the extension to NAB Chairman’s term is not only illegal but has malicious intent as the government wants to save itself from accountability especially post-Pandora Papers.

“The selected government wants to continue victimization of opposition while ensuring the Prime Minister, his family, government and cronies continue to be immune from accountability especially post-Pandora Papers,” he said on his Twitter account.

Meanwhile, rejecting the NAB Ordinance 2021, Vice President PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said the PTI government has a clear ulterior motive behind this Ordinance issued with obvious mala fide, which we will reject in the Senate. “They are hell-bent on changing the entire law to save one person so that their own scandals remain hidden. We will oppose this with full force,” she said.

Sherry Rehman said once again the PTI government disrespected the parliament by issuing an Ordinance which is in clear violation of the Constitution as they should have consulted the House on this serious matter. “When the NAB law clearly stated that in order to give an extension to the Chairman, a consultation with the leader of the opposition in National Assembly is required then why did they use this convoluted route to go against the law?” she questioned.

She said the PPP had worked hard for years to establish unity and consensus when we were in office, whereas the PTI government pushing up the boundaries of authoritarianism and undoing our hard work. “The irony is not lost on anyone that on the one hand the PM promises a “corruption-free Pakistan” while on the other hand he is no longer complying with the Constitution,” she said.

Meanwhile, PML-N said the Presidential Ordinance was meant to give NRO to the government people and cover up their corruption and wrongdoings. “The Presidential Ordinance bears bad intentions and it is meant to give permanent NRO to the PTI-led government’s cabinet members, cover up their corruption and play havoc with freedom of judiciary,”PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said Thursday while addressing a press conference along with Khawaja Asif and Ahsan Iqbal. He questioned as to what forced the government to promulgate an ordinance to amend the black law of a dictator by a so-called elected government in haste when two houses of the Parliament are functioning.

He said if the prime minister did not want consultation with the opposition, then he should appoint a senior official of NAB to look after the work of NAB chairman whose tenure is ending on October 08 till the appointment of the new chairman. He said they did not know whether the ordinance had been promulgated or not but President Alvi, on his official Twitter, had proudly announced that he had done the same. “There are ridiculous clauses in the new ordinance like confirmation of bail of an accused which will be taken by the same accountability against the alleged embezzled amount,” he said. He said the most dangerous clause in the new NAB law is appointment judges of accountability courts. He pointed out that with the promulgation of the new ordinance, the president on the advice of the prime minister would appoint retired judges of his own choice on lucrative packages and the same judges would have powers more than judges of high courts.

“There is ambiguity in the appointment of the new NAB chairman as the incumbent will continue till the appointment of the new chairman,” he said. The NAB chairman could not see the corruption of the incumbent cabinet members or even sent notices to them, rather BRT Peshawar and Malam Jabba cases have been closed.

He said the new presidential ordinance would give a permanent NRO to the sitting cabinet members against their corruption and those government people whose names appeared in the Pandora Papers leak.

“Now the NAB will not be able to question ministers who committed dacoity on pockets of people by increasing prices of medicines, sugar and wheat scams and purchase of the most expensive LNG,” he said.

He said the ordinance would also provide that NAB would not question evasion of taxes and ultimately would benefit at least ministers and advisers whose names appeared in the Pandora Papers leaks.

Ahsan Iqbal said the new NAB ordinance would result in political polarisation and confrontation and promote opponents’ victimisation. He said the ordinance was also meant for pre-poll rigging by removing their political opponents through selected judges before the next general elections.

Khawaja Muhammad Asif said that the actions of the NAB chairman had resulted in nothing but an unprecedented price hike and destroying the country’s economy, saying that corrupt practices had increased in the last over three years.

PMLN legal expert Azam Nazir Tarar said that the lawyers’ community had also rejected the new NAB law as the Article 89 of the Constitution provides that an ordinance could be promulgated only in case of emergency.

Meanwhile, lawyers associations have declared the NAB Amendment Ordinance a black law. The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) have issued a joint statement in this regard. According to the statement, lawyers’ associations declared the NAB Amendment Ordinance a black law. The joint statement said it was against the law to allow NAB chief continue working till the appointment of a new chairman, adding that the amendment for a particular individual was against the law.

The Pakistan Bar Council and the Supreme Court Bar Association said that the amendment for a particular individual was not acceptable to anyone, adding the appointment of judges on lucrative packages violated the independence of the judiciary. The joint statement said the PBC and the SCBA would work together against the draconian law.

Meanwhile, JI Ameer Sirajul Haq has categorically rejected the NAB Amendment Ordinance terming it mala fide and PTI’s NRO to itself, and said that the PTI government bulldozed the Constitution and parliamentary democracy to give an extension to its blue-eyed NAB chairman. He was addressing workers’ gathering and local politicians at Mithi and Tharparkar on Thursday during a visit to interior Sindh. Sirajul Haq reiterated that the JI would go to the Supreme Court for fair inquiry into the people named in Pandora Papers and Panama Leaks. He rejected the prime minister’s special cell formed to investigate the owners of shell companies.

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Information Chaudhry Fawad Hussain Thursday said that that most of the amendments to the NAB ordinance which the opposition is criticising are part of those proposed and supported by them. The minister said this while talking to journalists here after the meeting of PTI core committee, presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Fawad explained everyone agreed to give trial courts the right to bail, to remove tax cases from the ambit of the NAB and to change and strengthen the NAB’s judicial system. “Therefore, we have brought technology into it. They (opposition parties) have no idea of reports. If they have any amendments, they can bring them in parliament, while the entire PTI is behind this NAB Ordinance,” he made it clear.

The minister said that whether it is NAB reforms or electoral reforms, the opposition has to oppose them: the opposition is a gathering of crying children and its only job is to cry.

Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib Thursday defended the move, saying the reforms were a true reflection of the government’s strong commitment to strengthening the state institutions under the parliamentary democracy.

Addressing a news conference here, he said earlier, the law was silent in case of deadlock on the appointment of the NAB chairman. Now, the president would initiate a dialogue with both the leaders of the House for the appointment and the matter would be referred to the parliamentary committee in the case of deadlock.

“We have followed the Constitution in this matter if there is an issue regarding the appointment of the Election Commissioner and deadlock emerges, the matter is referred to the parliamentary committee. The same will happen in the case of NAB chairman’s appointment. So, we have strengthened and given respect to the Parliament as the opposition used to demand,” the minister maintained.

“Is the addition of parliamentary committee in the NAB law really frustrated them,” he questioned while recalling the opposition’s previous demand of closing down the anti-graft watchdog. The amendments in the NAB law are comprehensive, he said stressing the main aim was to strengthen the NAB and fast-track the ongoing accountability process in line with the parliamentary norms.

He said implementation of the amendments, proposed by the opposition, was tantamount to make the anti-graft watchdog ‘toothless’ and ‘powerless.’ Those amendments were nothing, but NRO-like concessions for the opposition, he asserted, citing one of the sections which stated that embezzlement of over rupees one billion should not fell under the purview of corruption. Farrukh said the critics of the ordinance should feel ashamed on bringing Protection of Economic Reform Act 1992 and apologise too because it was the biggest robbery done by the Sharif family in the daylight.

About consultation with the opposition on the NAB chairman’s appointment, he said the entire Sharif family was facing corruption charges and some of them were even convicted. The consultations with PML-N on the matter were tantamount to ask the thief to whom he would like to be his Investigating Officer.

He said the opposition parties’ leadership had no match with Prime Minister Imran Khan who submitted a complete money trail in the court along with multiple documents to prove his honesty. “PM Imran is committed to rooting out corruption and the government would not backtrack from its accountability process,” he maintained.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill on Thursday said incompetent leadership of PMLN had been making futile efforts to make the accountability process ineffective and slow down its pace.

In response to the presser of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Khawaja Muhammad Asif, he said the incompetents first tried to dispute the accountability process. However, he said all such illegal efforts would be foiled. He said violators were being brought under ambit of country’s law. He said,” “For the first time in history, those were made accountable to the law who remained in power corridors.”

NAB and accountability process had fully crippled minds of the incompetents, he added. He said their concern in the amended NAB ordinance was only with the proposal of trial on daily basis. The incompetents were also disturbed by incorporating a proposal in the amendment bill to decide the case within six months, he added. 

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