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August 22, 2019

Cabinet’s decision to review NAB law discriminatory: Rabbani

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August 22, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The PPP has criticised the cabinet decision to review the NAB law and procedure concerning businessmen and bureaucracy, while PML-N says it will take decision on the issue after reviewing the government’s package. Former Senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani said the cabinet decision to review the NAB law and procedure was discriminatory, malafide and tinted with victimisation of the political class.

The former Senate chairman contended that if each segment of society was to betried by their peers then members of the Parliament should be tried by a Parliamentary Committee on Accountability.

Reacting to the federal cabinet’s decision, taken a day earlier, Rabbani said as reported in the media, two task forces on civil service reforms headed by an adviser of the prime minister had made recommendations for amendment in the NAB law with reference to the civil bureaucracy.

The purported amendments, amongst others, propose that no investigation, reference or arrest will be initiated by the NAB till such time as the material is placed before a Supervisory Committee, consisting of peers, for their approval, he noted.

“The various accountability mechanisms/laws in the country already provide for a trial by peers of the judiciary, military bureaucracy and the civil bureaucracy. The only class subjected to a special law and special courts is the political class. If each segment of society is to be tried by their peers then members of the Parliament should be tried by a Parliamentary Committee on Accountability,” he emphasised.

He said the solution lied in a Federal Commission for Accountability, wherein, there was one law. The Federal Commission for Accountability, he noted, would provide for accountability across the board and all segments of society would be try able under it. “The details had been given in my open letter to the people of Pakistan dated 12th January, 2017,” he said.

Rabbani said that true and genuine accountability could only come when one process was applicable to all stakeholders. Meanwhile, the PML-N leader Sardar Ayaz Sadiq told The News that the opposition parties’ opinion on the NAB law was no secret as they want to dispense with its draconian clauses.

The PML-N leader said that in the past a few rounds of negotiations were held between the government and opposition representatives to rationalise the harshness of the NAO and ensure transparency in the working of NAB, but the process stood abruptly severed as the ruling side did not show seriousness.

Ayaz Sadiq said the opposition would not go against “good” changes in the NAO. The government’s announcement, he said, is positive, but the fact of the matter is that it can’t get the proposed amendments passed from the Parliament single-handed and has to take the opposition along.

“The government has not contacted or communicated with the opposition on the proposed changes or any other national matter.” Giving his view on every amendment suggested by the law minister, the PML-N leader said that the opposition would support giving the power to accountability courts to grant bail to the NAB accused. Currently, they have no such authority under the NAO.

The former NA speaker also approved the proposed modification of the NAO provision pertaining to the voluntary return (VR). The law minister said it would be settled in the amendment how and when the VR would apply and what would be its consequential impact on the one availing this facility. An accused who enters the VR cannot be allowed to resume government service, he said.

Ayaz Sadiq said it was agreed that those having no direct connection with the alleged corruption of public office holders, arraigned by the NAB, should not be dragged by it. He said it had been proposed to the government side in earlier talks and it would be reiterated again if fresh dialogue was held that NAB should not be a one-man show and there should be more transparency in its decisions.

The former speaker said a commission should be formed, including the NAB chairman, its prosecutor general and some other senior officials, which should take decisions like arrests, start of inquiry or investigation, filing of references in accountability courts etc. “This will ensure that no single person is in a position to manipulate the process and victimise political opponents. It will do away with the arbitrariness.”

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