Parties agree to leave judiciary, military out of new accountability law

  • Law minister says govt has no plan to close any case or inquiry

ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on National Accountability Laws has unanimously agreed that members of the judiciary and military need not be held accountable under the new proposed accountability law, Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid announced Wednesday.

“All major political parties are supporting the new accountability commission,” the minister said, adding that all NAB cases would be moved to the new body and not a single case or inquiry would be closed.

The accountability law aimed at leaving no ‘sacred cows’ untouched ─ that has spent over a year on the drawing board ─ was intended to ensure across-the-board accountability and bring judges and generals within the purview of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

However, earlier in October, the PTI and Muttahida Qaumi Movement frustrated the nearly year-long process of drafting legislation with a U-turn during the 13th meeting of the committee, shattering the consensus built around the nearly finalised bill.

The bill for the commission comprises 55 clauses, of which the two parties have agreed on 53 clauses. On the other hand, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders have called the new commission ‘toothless’ and raised their voice against it.

PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar — who had presented the proposal regarding the inclusion of judges and generals in the definition of the term ‘public office-holder’ — had said that both parties had blocked the smooth passage of legislation that was meant to bring ‘sacred cows’ under the ambit of accountability laws.

However, the PPP retracted its suggestion of accountability for judges and generals on Wednesday.

The existing National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999, promulgated by General Pervez Musharraf, brought public office-holders, civil servants, politicians and even civilians under the ambit of the law, but exempted armed forces personnel as well as judges of the superior courts.