Dawn News

PML-N set to reject draft of accountability law

ISLAMABAD, Sept 8: The Pakistan Muslim League-N is set to reject a new draft of the accountability law, but a difference of opinion exists within the party over whether to hold further consultations with the government on the matter.

Even before its review by the party leadership, PML-N leaders have started publicly rejecting the draft of the National Accountability Commission Act handed over by a PPP team led by Syed Khurshid Shah during a meeting with Senator Ishaq Dar on Thursday.

Sources in the PML-N told Dawn that there was a divided opinion in the party over continuing talks with the PPP on the law.

“One group of party hardliners led by Chaudhry Nisar is deadly against any contact with the PPP on any issue whereas another group of moderates believes that there is no harm in holding consultations because the final decision would always rest with the leadership,” the sources said.

Hours after Thursday’s meeting in Islamabad, Chaudhry Nisar, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly, told reporters that it had taken place on PPP’s desperate and frequent requests with the permission of the party only to “listen to the government”.

Although PML-N leaders publicly deny any formal talks with the PPP, sources in the two parties said they had been busy behind the scenes in serious discussions on a number of national issues, including the future caretaker set-up and formation of a national commission on new provinces.

According to Chaudhry Nisar, the PML-N team negotiating with PPP ministers had no decision-making powers and was bound to report to the party leadership about what they wanted to discuss.

He said the new accountability law might not be acceptable to the PML-N because it was `weak and aimless’.

He said it had been a principled stance of his party that there would be no formal talks with the PPP which, he alleged, was devoid of credibility and whose past was full of broken promises.

Chaudhry Nisar said there was no need for talks with the government on the issue of caretaker set-up because it was not required under the Constitution.

When contacted, PML-N’s deputy secretary general Ahsan Iqbal denied that there were differences in his party over engagement with the PPP.  There was no possibility of any `political dialogue’ with the PPP, but `technical and legislative issues’ could be discussed, he said.

Zulqernain Tahir adds from Lahore: PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rashid said that ‘formal’ talks between the PPP and the opposition on the caretaker set-up would begin by the end of this year.

When asked whether Chaudhry Nisar had ruled out talks with the PPP government over the interim set-up, Mr Rashid told Dawn that this was not the case.

“The talks for consensus on the caretaker government will be held in November or December. As the next general election will be held not before March/April 2013 nobody is feeling the need to start the talks for the interim set-up right now. It is too early to talk about this,” he said.

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