Thursday March 30, 2023

Parliamentary panel on amending NAB law: Seven members being prosecuted, probed by anti-graft agency

July 29, 2020

ISLAMABAD: At least seven members of the new parliamentary committee, assigned to discuss smooth, consensus passage of proposed legislation, including amendments to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) law, in the Parliament, are facing court references or active or dormant inquiries, investigations or other stern activities being carried out by the anti-corruption agency.

The opposition particularly the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has five such leaders including former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Sanaullah and another ex-premier Raja Pervez Ashraf, who figure in the 24-member parliamentary panel.

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan, who obviously belong to the government, are also included in the committee led by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, which was formed by Speaker Asad Qaisar three days back to finally hammer out a consensus to do worthwhile legislation.

However, it is pointed out that the fact that these leaders are facing the NAB investigations and references doesn’t disqualify them to be included in the committee that has the discussion on a host of amendments in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999 as its prime but contentious agenda item. None of them has been conclusively convicted by courts. All the seven stalwarts are members of the Parliament.

The remaining 17 members of the parliamentary body are confronted with no inquiry, investigation or court case by the NAB. Both sides of the political divide have inducted in the panel their best brains, who not only understand political dynamics but also possess sufficient knowledge about legislation and laws and the importance of amendments in them.

Abbasi, embroiled in the LNG case, is on bail, given by the Islamabad High Court (IHC), that he got after remaining in the NAB’s custody for several months. The case is being heard by an accountability court of the federal capital. Saad Rafique is also on bail, which was recently granted by the Supreme Court that, in its landmark detailed judgment, trashed political engineering, partisanship and high-handedness of the NAB in an elaborate manner. He has been arraigned in connection with the Paragon Housing Society. The reference against him is being heard by an accountability court of Lahore.

Ahsan Iqbal too is on bail, granted by the IHC. He was made accused in the Narowal Sports Stadium construction. The reference is pending disposal in an accountability court of Islamabad.

Rana Sanaullah has been summoned by the NAB multiple times to probe his alleged assets beyond means. Besides, he is on bail in the narcotics smuggling case, instituted by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF). Pervez Ashraf is being tried in different references. He was recently acquitted in two cases by accountability courts. Pervez Khattak figures in the Malam Jabba and Peshawar metro (Bus Rapid Transit or BRT) investigations, but these cases are lying dormant because of a stay granted by a superior court or due to the special policy, which the Supreme Court has held is directed at one side sparing the other.

Babar Awan was acquitted by an accountability court in the Nandipur Power Plant reference. The NAB has appealed against this decision in the IHC, which is awaiting decision.