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Friday, September 22, 2023

Mazhar Abbas slams government for NAB amendment

Journalist asks how an accused can become a prime minister and amend laws

Discussing NAB amendements, Journalist Mazhar Abbas asked how an accused can become a prime minister and amend laws, saying that is clearly signals a conflict of interest.

Talking during a show at Geo News, Abbas hinted at the amendments made to the NAB (Second Amendment) Bill 2021 by the incumbent PMLN-led coalition government.

Abbas said the laws should be applied on future NAB cases only, and not on the cases that the amendment-maker government is facing.

He said if the current government misuses the bill, it might end up benefiting PMLN, PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari or the government officials who are facing cases in the NAB, adding that it clearly shows conflict of interest.

He raised a question that if an accused is innocent until proven guilty, why NAB held Siddique-ul-Farooq in custody for two years. “When the Supreme Court (SC) questioned NAB regarding Farooq, NAB said it had forgotten”, Abbas stated.

The bill had sailed through both Houses of parliament late last month – along with election reforms bill – and was sent to the president to sign into law. According to the government, amendments to the NAB law were aimed at preventing the “misuse of law for political engineering and victimisation of opponents”.

But Dr Arif Alvi again refused, and on Sunday returned the unsigned NAB bill to the PM office.

Read more: President refuses to sign NAB amendment bill – Again!

Dr Alvi said that he believes the bill – seeking to reverse the controversial changes made in election laws by the previous PTI government – is regressive in nature and will promote corruption by ensuring that the long-arm of the law is crippled.

The President said that it had been “very painful” for him to not sign a bill passed by the Parliament and wanted to “record his reasons for posterity”.

However, the government convened a joint sitting of the NA and Senate on June 9 to consider the bills, which were approved the same day.

On Tuesday, PTI chairman Imran Khan announced that his party will challenge the new legislation in the Supreme Court this week.

In a live video broadcast on Tuesday, the former prime minister described the amendments as a “bigger crime than dropping a bomb on the country” and said those behind the move should be thrown into jail “due to their shamelessness”.

Former NAB Punjab director retired Brig Farooq Hameed told Dawn that “it would have been better for the government to shut the bureau instead of introducing such sweeping legislation to defang it. Accountability of the corrupt elite is now next to impossible. Why should the government allocate billions of rupees in the budget for NAB when it has brought about changes to ensure billions of rupees looted by the corrupt cannot be recovered? RIP (rest in peace) accountability.”

“The most glaring change made in the NAB law is allowing a suspect to get away with the wealth he/she has amassed through whichever means, as the burden of proof has been shifted to the one who reports the matter to the bureau,” he remarked.