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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Will NAB chairman get an extension in service?

The government reportedly wants to offer an extension in service to the NAB chairman. However, the rule, if adopted, will empower the government to exercise its influence over the bureau’s working.

The opposition on Monday sought time from the federal government to seek consultation from its leadership on the draft bill presented to amend the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999. Experts are mulling over will the NAB chairman get an extension in service or not.

The second meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Legislative Business was held on Monday with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the chair. During the meeting, the government discussed with the opposition issues related to amendments to the NAB laws, action plan of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and National Finance Commission (NFC) Award.

Sources claim that the government in its recommendations has proposed an extension in the tenure of the chairman, deputy chairman and prosecutor general NAB; however the opposition has rejected the proposal, saying they needed to be discussed first. Sources said that the opposition told the government representatives that they would need to consult with their leadership on the other proposals.

Read More: Why govt & PPP at odds following Bilawal’s appearance before NAB

The committee took up nine drafts of legislation, mostly related to the FATF framework. The opposition members of the committee is likely not to create any problems in amendments relating to FATF; however they are all set to give tough time to the government pertaining to the provision of reappointment of the NAB chairman and prosecutor general NAB.

Hamid Khan, a prominent legal expert and a lawyer of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, told Mohammad Malick on Hum TV that “it is not an appropriate way to amend the NAB laws”. He was of the view that giving extension to the NAB chairman will give the government to exercise its control over the bureau’s regulation.

PTI leader and federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said on Tuesday that those lawmakers, who are being investigated by the National Accountability Burea, should leave the committee constituted to amend the watchdog’s laws.

In a tweet today, Chaudhry said that these lawmakers should think that the amendments they propose will not be considered impartial.

Urging the lawmakers to respect the parliament, the federal minister said that these parliamentarians should separate themselves from the legislative process.

PML-N wants to get NAB abolished

Khawaja Saad Rafique, a senior leader of PML-N and former federal minister, said during a press conference that “after the SC verdict, NAB has no standing”. The SC in its latest verdict granted bail to Khawaja brothers and slammed NAB for being inefficient and a tool being used for political engineering. Rafique demanded that “NAB should be abolished […] The opposition and government should legislate for a new accountability body. There is no atmosphere of justice in NAB.”

The former Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, also said on 13th December 2018 that the NAB ordinance was against the Pakistani constitution, Islamic values, and our human rights commitments. “It was drawn up by a dictator and it should end”. The former Prime Minister made these statements while speaking to Doctor Moeed Pirzada on his prime-time show “Live with Moeed Pirzada” on GNN.

Read More: NAB law amended for Civil Servants to deliver: Imran Khan

Analysts believe that the opposition leaders want the NAB to be abolished in order to evade accountability, the government, on the other hand, seems to be interested to offer an extension in tenure to the chairman NAB. However, some leaders within the PTI are not willing to let the opposition get accommodated as any ‘understanding’ with Sharifs or Zardari likely to damage PTI’s narrative on accountability and money laundering.