ISLAMABAD - Almost 10 months down the road since assuming power, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government like so many other promises fell short of providing the corruption-infested country with an independent, powerful and transparent accountability mechanism, the cause party was spearheading while sitting on the opposition benches.
Background interviews and chat with some of the members of both the ruling PML-N and the rulers of yesteryears, Pakistan People’s Party, revealed that the issue of having an independent accountability apparatus at federal level is not on the priority lists of both these parties which remained horn-locked over the issue throughout the PPP rule.
When contacted State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmad was unaware about the status of the much controversial National Accountability Commission Bill to replace the controversial National Accountability Ordinance 1999 introduced by the then military dictator Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf.
When asked about the serious concerns PML-N leadership used to show about the dubiousness of the prevalent NAB Ordinance 1999, Aftab said: You should have asked about the current status of the NAC Bill from some members of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Law Justice and Human Rights.
Interestingly, most of the members of the NA Standing Committee on Law and Justice have expressed their ignorance about any bill pending with the committee and said that they would only be in a position to comment on the issue when any such bill would be referred to the committee by the National Assembly.
Senior leader of PPP Syed Naveed Qamar while talking to The Nation said that as per the rules governing the Parliamentary functions on completion of the mandated term of the National Assembly, all the pending bills with standing committees would stand void and it would up to the next parliament to reinitiate the bills it or not for legislation.
To a question, he dispelled the impression of any covert understanding with government on hushing up the new accountability law, quickly adding that the ball is in government’s court and they will give their reflection on it when government will come up with some new piece of legislation to replace the Musharraf-era NAB Ordinance.
To another question he made it loud and clear that their party would not accept a dictator-era law and would definitely want to see it replaced with some balanced and mutually acceptable law. “Of course we will give our input on any new bill introduced by the government,” he added.
When PPP government had placed the National Accountability Bureau under administrative control of Ministry of Law and Justice, which was previously directly answerable to the prime minister, PML-N, then the main opposition party in the parliament, had made uproar on the issue both on the floor of the national assembly as well as outside the parliament coming down hard on the government for crippling the already crippled accountability apparatus at federal level.
But interestingly since coming into power the same PML-N, which was the main voice in support of making accountability bureau more powerful and independent while in opposition, failed to even elevate the NAB to become answerable to prime minister instead of law ministry what to speak of granting financial and administrative independence to it.
Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf member in the NA Standing Committee on Law and Justice Ali Mohammad Khan said that so far the government has not introduced any bill to grant autonomy to the NAB or replace it with some new body. He, however, said that they would definitely take up this issue on the floor of the House because blanket accountability is one of key foundations on which their party’s edifice is based. He further said that as promised, PTI had not only passed a new accountability law in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa but also put it in practice.