Govt invites Opp for debate on mending NAB flaws


–Opp alleges political victimisation as govt says cases against political leaders were filed in the past


ISLAMABAD: Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Azam Khan Swati on Monday urged the opposition to sit with the government for debate on laws about National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and to remove flaws form it with mutual discussion.

He stated this while winding up debate on a motion under Rule 218 in Senate regarding the recent wave of alleged political victimisation 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 victimising each other in the past but now they have been trying to stop the accountability process by standing with each other. Their purpose is to undermine efforts of highlighting Kashmir crisis and resolve other national issues, he added.

Swati appealed to the NAB chairman to strengthen the prosecution of NAB and to take action across the board. He said that NAB is an independent institution and anyone involved in corrupt practices should not be spared.

He also said that Ehtesab Bureau headed by Saifur Rehman was used in past for political victimisation and those starting politics through the support of dictators should not tell us about political moves.

The minister said that the verdict in Jehangir Tareen case was accepted despite reservations. Though the entire money trail was presented during this particular case but the decision went against Jehangir Tareen, he added.

Swati said that he politically remained affiliated with Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) for nine years and they could not claim anything wrong about him. He added that entertainment expenditures of his office were absolutely zero because the money of taxpayers could not be used for such purposes.

The minister said that politics on religious issues should be avoided but honest practices in politics should be encouraged. He also spoke about cancellation of citizenship of former senator Hafiz Hamd Ullah and said that such acts were condemnable and delay in serving notices with so much delay in improper.

Pervaz Rashid of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), while taking part in the discussion, alleged that the incumbent government held many politicians on mere corruption charges. He said that the politicians belonging to opposition parties were being victimised.

Muhammad Akram was of the view that NAB was being used as tool to twist the arms of opponents. He said that all past rulers utilised NAB against their opponents.

He also said that half of the total members of the treasury bench had joined the ruling parties by switching their loyalties from previous parties.

Kalsoom Parveen said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had deviated from its original agenda of public’s welfare. She said that PTI and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) were on board to bring amendments in NAB during tenure of past government but unfortunately, PML-N did not show seriousness.

Seemi Ezdi of PTI said that the opposition parties had registered corruption cases against each other during their respective tenures. She said that none of the running corruption cases were lodged by the incumbent government. The Panama Papers case was a result of investigation by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), she added.

She recounted how the then government created hurdle in way of PTI’s Azadi March in 2014 and their workers were subjected to baton charge. She said that the PTI government fully facilitated the participants of Azadi March led by JUI-F.

Mushahidullah Khan alleged that results of general elections were changed.

He alleged that PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz were knocked out from election race under a well-thought plan. He was of the views that the government had amended the NAB Ordinance to target political opponents. He claimed that political opponents were being victimised in the name of accountability.

He said that names of many other Pakistanis were also present in the Panama Papers but only the leadership of PLM-N was targeted.

Quratul Ain Marri of PPP observed that the leadership of PPP was also being politically victimised and Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur were held on mere corruption allegation. She alleged that opposition leadership was facing incarceration, which was the worst example of political vendetta.

Rehman Malik of PPP called for setting up of reforms committee comprising members of three major political parties in order to being amendments in NAB, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) accountability laws.

He said that politicians were representatives of the people as well as reformers and suggested a legislation to arrest the former or incumbent government functionaries after conviction in corruption or other charges. He observed that political victimisation was not good for the country.

Javed Abbasi of PML-N alleged that the government since its inception was targeting the opposition in name of accountability. He said that NAB was being utilised to strife the voice of opposition.

He criticised the government for growing inflation, political victimisation, and censorship on media. “Media workers are not allowed to perform their professional duties independently,” he said. He also demanded that opposition’s bill related to NAB should be considered in the House as soon as possible.