A meeting held between the PPP and the PML-N at Islamabad on Thursday failed to iron out their differences on the draft accountability bill that has been lying pending for the past three years and a half owing to reservations of the PML-N about some of its clauses. Federal Law Minister Farooq Naek’s remark soon after the meeting that the cases of corruption, which occurred before it became law, would not be covered by it, however, revealed a new dimension of the bill, making it literally a prospective new National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). One would assume that it hardly leaves any justification for the PML-N to pursue the matter unless radical changes are made in the draft to make it a really worthwhile law to be applied in an impartial manner to the various forms of corrupt practices, irrespective of when they have been committed. Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was quite emphatic in this regard when he said, “The gimmickry in the form of new recommendations from the PPP on the accountability bill is not acceptable.” It was obviously for such serious shortcomings in the bill that the PML-N leaders told the media that the PPP was not serious about any issue. Both Chaudhry Nisar and PML-N’s Deputy Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal felt that, in fact, the President and his team were trying to postpone the coming elections in order to prolong their rule. Supporting his contention, Ahsan Iqbal pointed to a recent statement of President Zardari in which he had said that he would like the local body elections to be held prior to the general elections and the PML-N leader drew parallel of the idea with the tactics adopted by Musharraf. He believed that the PPP wanted to hold elections in 2014. Warning the people to be aware of the devious move, he asked the Election Commission to take notice. The accountability bill in its present form, leaving the past misdeeds out of its purview, is to make a mockery of the very objective for which it was prepared. With the judicial verdict on the NRO already very much there, the future of the proposed legislation, akin to that very infamous NRO, should not be difficult to imagine. The new law that is supposed to replace the “black law of Musharraf” ought to be above such considerations and not appear to be favouring any wrongdoer. Besides, as pointed out by Ahsan Iqbal, the implementing authority should be self-governing to ensure impartiality in its application. As for holding local body elections before general elections, when the President floated the idea after having kept the issue of LB polls in the limbo for a long while, critics were quick to express the apprehension that it was designed to cause delay in the holding of general elections. It must be kept in mind that the people of Pakistan would not brook any such suggestion and no attempt is made to put off the polls lest the public sentiment should flare-up.