NA body on Law and Justice may resolve PPP, PML-N differences


ISLAMABAD – The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice is likely to meet during the upcoming session of the Lower House to thrash out differences between the PPP and the PML-N on a new accountability bill particularly on the qualification of the chairman of the accountability commission. The PPP and the PML-N are struggling since April 2009 to develop consensus on the proposed accountability commission and the meetings between the PML-N four member committee and the government team, headed by Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, on Nawaz Sharif’s proposed 10-point reforms agenda in January and February this year too could not resolve the differences on the draft bill. A source in the PPP told Pakistan Today that both parties would try to thrash out differences on the chairman of the new accountability commission in the next meeting of the National Assembly’s body on law and justice.
“The PML-N is insisting on the appointment of a serving Supreme Court judge or the chief justice of a high court as accountability commission’s head while the PPP along with the PML-Q, the MQM and the ANP, recommend that a retired judge of the Supreme Court should be the chairman of the commission,” said the source. When contacted, Begum Nasim Akhtar Chaudhry, the chairwoman of the NA’s standing committee said she intended to summon the next meeting on March 11 or 12 to finalise the accountability commission draft bill. “We will also invite Senator Raza Rabbani as he was part of the government’s team that held negotiations with the PML-N’s committee on 10-point reforms agenda including the new accountability bill,” she said.
She confirmed that the PPP and the PML-N were not on same page on the qualification of the proposed accountability commission’s chairman. “The PML-N seeks the appointment of a serving judge of the Supreme Court or the chief justice of a high court while we (the PPP, PML-Q, ANP and MQM) are in favour of the appointment of a retired judge of the Supreme Court,” she said, adding that after the national judicial policy no serving judge could head the accountability body. “Some other differences also exist between the PPP and the PML-N on the new accountability bill as the PML-N support the arrest of accused even without solid evidence while the PPP is opposing the stringent clause,” she said, adding that the PML-N wanted to start accountability from 1947, while the PPP was in favour of retrospective accountability starting from 1985 and “we will also try to resolve this controversy in the committee’s upcoming meeting”.