ISLAMABAD - As the government has introduced amendments in the accountability law to avoid any misuse of authority by the NAB, PTI Chairman Imran Khan is now at loggerheads with the government announcing to challenge these amendments in the Supreme Court.

In a live televised address here yesterday, Imran termed the amended NAB bill as a ‘bigger crime’ than ‘dropping a bomb’ on the country. “Our party would challenge the law in the Supreme Court (SC) during this week,” he said.

While on the other hand, Federal Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar, while addressing a press conference, the government welcomed Imran Khan’s initiative to move the court against the amendments.

The minister said that the government had taken the decision to amend the NAB laws in the best interest of people and the country which would restore the human dignity and uphold the supremacy of the Constitution. Tarar said that the government introduced amendments in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Ordinance, 1999 in the light of the judgments announced by the Supreme Court and the High Courts.

He said that the interpretation of NAB laws and some procedural changes were made in the amendments. He said that the National Assembly passed the NAB amendment bill after a four hour lengthy debate as different Members of National Assembly (MNAs) had filed their motions in individual capacity to insert some amendments in the NAB Ordinance.

When the president returned the bill despite the passage from the Senate with advice and message that some clauses should be revisited, the government thoroughly read and discussed the advice of the president with the legal experts and addressed some of his objections.

He said that the president had no objection on 70 percent of the amendments while he suggested revisiting 20 to 25 percent amendments while five to ten percent were of procedural nature. The concerns of the president were addressed in the joint sitting of the parliament.

| Law minister says govt introducing changes in light of superior courts’ judgments | ‘Draconian law’ of remand being reduced to 14 days from 90 days | So-called accountability not acceptable to anyone | PTI chief says his party will challenge law in SC this week

Now, provincial chief justice will have the authority to appoint NAB officials: Tarar

Rulers should be thrown behind bars for ending their corruption cases under

NRO-II: Imran

Negating the impression of National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) by removal of NAB jurisdiction from the developmental projects, cabinet decisions, Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) decisions, Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) decisions, taxation matters, the minister clarified that most of these amendments were introduced by the PTI government through an ordinance which was lapsed.

He said that not only civil society and government servants raised objections but the courts also made serious observations on the NAB laws and overall public opinion was also against the NAB law.

The law minister stated that the rights of people would ruin if the accountability watchdog continued to perform its duty with existing laws. He said that the economic scenario of the country would have been changed if these laws were amended 10 years ago. This law was introduced by a dictator and should have been amended by political parties which the passage of time but they failed to do it. If these amendments were introduced on time the political and economic landscape would have been different, he added.

He said that most of these amendments were introduced by the PTI government through an ordinance in November 2021. But the government disagreed with some of the amendments introduced by PTI such as the appointments of retired judges as accountability court judges instead the government wanted to appoint the serving district and session’s judges by the high courts. And the post of the Chairman NAB should not be extendable, he added.

Furthermore, the Deputy Chairman should act as Chairman NAB in full capacity during his leave or absence, this amendment would strengthen the institution to perform even during the absence of a Chairman.

He said that the courts in its judgments had repeatedly stated that the initial burden of proof would remain with the prosecution as it was also included in Islamic law and a principal of common law.

Discussing the NAB’s role on inquiry and investigation, he said that six months time was proposed for inquiry and investigation each, as police takes 17 days for an inquiry, if the institution needed more time then it should seek permission from competent court. The draconian law of remand was 90 days which was against the dignity of human being and useless, therefore, it is being reduced to 14 days. With the exception of terrorism related cases, 90 days remand was granted nowhere. In the new amendment, the NAB would be debarred from pretrial incarceration, he added.

Senator Azam Nazeer said that the allegation leveled by opposition regarding Rs 1100 billion NRO was just like a drum beating regarding Ashiana Housing Scheme, which later on proved baseless.

Also, Leader of the House in Senate Azam Nazeer Tarar said Tuesday that over 85 percent amendments in the National Accountability Act (Second Amendment) were same as proposed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in their two ordinances promulgated during their tenure.

Responding on the adjournment motion moved by the PTI lawmakers, he said that PTI was criticising the Act without even reading it. He challenged the PTI lawmakers to hold open debate with him over the Act as only anomalies and flaws in the NAB law had been removed.

Tarar, who is also Minister for Law and Justice, said that the NAB laws had been used for political engineering and arm-twisting of opponents for over 20 years. He said the NAB Act was passed in the National Assembly after thorough debate and discussion for over five hours on each clause of the Act.

He asked the opposition lawmakers to make a comparative table and examine the legislation instead of criticism. He said that during PTI government, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CCI) termed some sections of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, as going against the Shariah.

The incumbent government made all the legislation in this regard with good intention as, “we are in the favour of accountability but fundamental rights of any individual must not be violated,” he said, adding that the so-called engineered accountability was not acceptable to anyone.

Tarar said that PTI had extended the tenure of NAB chairman as daily wager for further six months. He said that PTI had also hired 60-year old judge on Rs one million salary. Now, the Ministry of Law and Justice will not appoint NAB chairman, but provincial chief justice will have the authority to appoint them.

On the other hand, PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Tuesday termed the amended NAB bill as a ‘bigger crime’ than ‘dropping a bomb’ on the country. He said that his party would challenge the law in the Supreme Court (SC) during this week.

In the live televised address, Imran Khan stated that he was pressured throughout his tenure as a prime minister and blackmailed to strike a NRO-like deal with the major political figures of the present coalition government but he resisted the pressure.

PTI chairman said that the “shameful changes” in NAB law proved that the ruling coalition didn’t seize the power to reduce inflation but to get themselves clear of corruption cases. He alleged that a whopping Rs11,00 billion of public money would be swallowed after changes in the law.

“These rulers should be thrown behind bars for shamelessly passing the amendments in the NAB law, as nobody can pass such law the way this government did.”

PTI chairman stated that the passing and enforcing the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill was tantamount to giving a license to commit corruption, as the powerful people would not fear punishment now. Khan alarmed that Pakistan could face similar situation like Sri Lanka if these “cabal of crooks remained in power because their sole purpose to grasp power was to enhance their personal agenda and protect the looted national wealth”, as PML-N leader and federal minister Khurram Dastgir Khan confessed the bitter reality.

He went on to say that PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz, PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would be the major beneficiary of these changes, because it would be next to impossible to trace white-collar crime in future. “The countries with discriminatory laws for the poor and the rich face devastation.”

Former PM Khan also said that endorsement of such laws by the parliament was an insult to the nation, because the people “who passed such laws should better die of shame.”

Imran Khan claimed that it was unprecedented that National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the top anti-corruption watchdog, would provide proof in the assets beyond means cases, besides any information regarding assets parked offshore would not be entertained.

He said that NAB autonomy has been cut drastically through the amendments, as it would not be able to investigate money-laundering cases as under the new law, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) would look into it.

He said that both the agency and bureau have been subdued by the interior ministry headed by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan so how he would pursue corruption cases against Sharif and Zardari families.

Khan said that then military ruler Pervez Musharraf gave first NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) to the current rulers and gave them amnesty in mega corruption and now under NRO-II, they ended their corruption cases.

PTI chief vowed that he would continue ‘jihad’ against this “corrupt clan, as history would not forgive the local abettors of the US-backed foreign conspiracy which resulted in imposition of current rulers on Pakistan.”