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Is Parliament going to amend NAB laws?

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi
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News analysis |

In an interesting development, both government and opposition agreed over amendments in the existing National Accountability Bureau (NAB) law. It was reported that a draft prepared by the Ministry of Law suggests restrictions on the blanket powers of the NAB chief. The draft also proposes withdrawal of the plea bargain powers from the NAB and it will be deemed in future as part of the acceptance of offense. The new accountability law also curtails the existing 90 days’ period of NAB remand to 14 days.

It is worth mentioning here that the Supreme Court of Pakistan has directed the parliament to amend some NAB laws. If the parliament remains unable to amend the said laws, the court will pass an order in this regard, Justice Azmat Saeed of the SC has stated. The government was given the time till February 2019.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has already clarified that he does not believe in any type of deal or NRO and will never compromise on rule of law and accountability. 

According to details Farooq H Naek, an amicus curiae in the case, informed the court that a parliamentary committee was working to overhaul the National Accountability Ordinance and suggested that instead of the court, parliament might be allowed to make an amendment to the law.

Justice Saeed said that the court could strike down the voluntary return law since it was an admission of committing of an offense, adding that there was no room in the law to waive criminal liability through an executive order. The bench said that in case there was no amendment to repeal the voluntary return by the first week of February 2019, the court might pass an order.

Read more: PPP, PML-N in search of an NRO: Fawad

Moreover, the court has said that the voluntary return is an option in the accountability law under which the accused returns plundered money during the investigation before the filing of a corruption reference in an accountability court.

In Pakistan, NAB, an anti-corruption watchdog, is under limelight these days for probing various projects initiated and completed during the tenures of previous governments. Several politicians and bureaucrats are facing inquiries and are being arrested by the NAB for their alleged or proved corruption.

According to latest media reports, the Federal Minister for Information has confirmed that the name of Mr. Zardari has been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL).

The opposition is completely in trouble in the country. Opposition leader and president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is already in the custody of the NAB. Prime Minister Imran Khan has already clarified that he does not believe in any type of deal or NRO and will never compromise on rule of law and accountability.

The opposition was pushed into hot water after a JIT was formed by the apex court to probe fake accounts scam against the former president Mr. Asif Ali Zardari. Many analysts expect Mr. Zardari’s arrest any time soon. According to latest media reports, the Federal Minister for Information has confirmed that the name of Mr. Zardari has been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL). This shows that the circle is being closed against the former president.

Read more: “No NRO”: PM maintains rigid stance against corruption

Therefore, the opposition wants the law to be amended so that it may seek some relief this way. But analysts believe that PTI’s government may agree on some changes as suggested by the SC but it will never compromise on any law which will help out the corrupts or those misusing their office.


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