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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Will the government and the opposition work collectively to mend NAB laws?

The government has invited opposition to discuss changes to be made in the NAB law. Both the government and opposition agree to amend the controversial law but do not agree on several substantive as well as procedural points. Will this deadlock come to an end?

Azam Khan Swati, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has invited the opposition to sit with the government for a productive debate on the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) laws. He claims that this discussion would help them in fixing any flaws that the laws might have. The government has recently introduced some changes in the NAB laws in order to make them democratic and impartial

Mr. Swat stated this while winding up debate on a motion under Rule 218 in the Senate regarding the recent wave of alleged political victimization and denial of fundamental rights to members of opposition parties and revocation of citizenship of a former member of Parliament.

The minister said that opposition parties were involved in politically victimizing each other in the past but they are now standing by each other to stop the accountability process. now they have been trying to stop the accountability process by standing with each other. Their aim is to undermine our efforts of highlighting the Kashmir crisis, he added.

The opposition, however believes that this NAB law is discriminatory and unfair and it needs to be overhauled

Moreover, he explained that Ehtesab Bureau headed by Saifur Rehman was previously exploited by the opposing parties for political victimization. He remarked that those who joined politics with the support of dictators should not teach them about political moves…

Supreme Court Directs Government to Amend NAB Law

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

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.

Government Amends the NAB Law

The Federal Cabinet approved promulgation of eight ordinances, including the amendments to NAB Ordinance 1999 and Benami Transaction Act 2017, to “uplift the living standard of the common man”. The changes were long on the cards and the premier was expected to ensure new legislation to make the NAB laws democratic and inclusive. The opposition has also demanded to amend the NAB laws which, they believe, are politically motivated to target opponents.

Minister for Law and Justice Barrister Farogh Naseem said while addressing a press conference that “it is a defining moment for Pakistan as the federal cabinet has approved eight laws of public interest.”


Mr. Naseem said the laws included The Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates, The Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Ordinance 2019, The Benami Transaction (Prohibition) (Amendment) Ordinance 2019, The Superior Courts (Courts Dress and Mode of Address) Order (Repeal) Ordinance, 2019, The National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance 2019, Legal Aid and Justice Authority Ordinance, 2019 and ordinances related to the Whistle Blower Act and amendments in the Civil Procedure Code.

Read more: PM Imran To ‘Limit’ NAB’s Power: Restrictions On Arresting Bureaucrats

According to the amendment in the NAB Ordinance 1999, a suspect facing corruption charges of Rs50 million will be provided C class facilities and during the trial and investigation of the charges as well as in jail…

Mr. Naseem further said the amendments in the Civil Procedural Code (CPC) would ensure speedy and expeditious justice for masses who had been enduring year-long lawsuits in civil courts.

NAB, the Draconian Law?

Some analysts believe that former dictator Musharraf’s military regime created the Draconian NAB law as an instrument for political engineering. The aim was not to end corruption but to use the law to change the loyalties of his opponents and punish those who dared to challenge him. Allowing the Bureau an indefinite time period for investigation by filing several cases against an accused under arrest is in violation of natural justice. The NAB chairman has also been given the arbitrary powers to get an accused arrested at any stage of the inquiry or investigation, and detained in the custody of NAB for three months.

However, the NAB Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal said that those who call the NAB law a black law are thieves. “Many Socrates and Platos have come to life who have never read the NAB law but still criticise it and call it a ‘black law’,” he said.

Read more: NAB is ‘black law’ only for thieves: Javed Iqbal

He further pointed out that “the people who say that NAB and economy cannot go together are wrong. Instead, they should say that NAB and corruption cannot go together but NAB and economy can.”

The opposition, however believes that this NAB law is discriminatory and unfair and it needs to be overhauled.

It is important to note that not only opposition but senior leaders of PTI have also asked the government to modify NAB law. Aleem Khan urged his government to look into changes they can make in the NAB law after he was arrested by the NAB officials.