No consensus on accountability law due to PPP-PML-N differences

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ISLAMABAD: As corruption goes unchecked across the country, there are bleak chances of the passage of a consensus accountability bill by parliament to ensure a strict and transparent mechanism to check corruption.
Although the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice is scheduled to meet tomorrow (Monday), yet the members of the committee see no chances of consensus.
“The government introduced a toothless accountability bill 18 months back in the National Assembly. We put forth 58 amendments for an independent commission and across-the-board accountability in all sectors and departments. If approved, this law will be superior to all existing accountability laws,” former law minister and PML-N MNA Zahid Hamid told Pakistan Today.
But ever since, the bill is pending with standing committee as PPP and PML-N legislators have locked horns over the bill. “The government lacks commitment to create consensus over the bill and the its ministers have not attended most of the meetings, due to which still there is still no development,” he added.
Asked about the disagreement between the two parties, Hamid said his party wanted to draft a bill ensuring transparent accountability. “During the last meeting held ten days ago, no minister attended. However, the minister of state for law was there and the meeting discussed the note of dissent tabled by my party.
Only three points of the note were discussed, but we able to convince the government that there will be no cut date for accountability and all governments will be held accountable,” he added. On the contrary, just to confuse the matter further, the government has presented an earlier drafted bill in the Senate without taking stakeholders into confidence and the same had also been referred to the senate committee on law and justice.
However, PPP member of the committee Syed Zafar Ali Shah doubted the commitment of the leadership of the PML-N and the PPP, saying if they were serious, consensus could have been developed in days. He also questioned the PPP draft bill, which provided that a sitting judge of the Supreme Court should be a member of the commission answerable to the parliamentary committee.
“No serving judge would agree to be questioned by a 50-member parliamentary committee. This can happen in the US where the president nominates the judges under the presidential form of governance. Moreover, there is separation of powers with checks and balances. But in Pakistan, this cannot happen,” he added.
PML-Q Parliamentary Leader Faisal Saleh Hayat said the government had introduced the accountability bill around 20 months ago, however, it was pending with the standing committee concerned, which reflected the government’s sincerity on the issue.
PML-Q MNA Raza Hayat Hiraj said the government was using delaying tactics to reach a consensus over the accountability bill and despite discussing the bill in the standing committee, the introduction of a separate bill in the Senate was a major question mark over the government’s commitment.
“There is huge difference between both bills and there is no hope for an immediate consensus,” he added.