ISLAMABAD: The Senate will take up on the opening day of its pre-budget session on Monday a crucial bill seeking to curtail powers of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to investigate corruption cases in provinces, besides a resolution “condemning” the Indian government for “financing” terrorism in Pakistan.

The Senate is set to pass the private member bill, titled the National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2015, tabled by PPP’s Taj Haider in November last year which became controversial when it was opposed by the federal and Punjab governments as well as NAB in the standing committee on law and justice.

The amendments were supported by the law departments of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

This division forced the committee’s chairman Javed Abbasi to put the bill for voting and it was passed by a majority of one vote. Five members belonging to the PPP and Awami National Party supported the bill whereas four members from the ruling PML-N and opposition Muttahida Qaumi Movement voted against it.

The bill seeks to amend various sections of National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, with an aim to restrict NAB’s jurisdiction to the departments and ministries of the federal government only.

The Statement of Objects and Reasons attached to the bill states that the 18th Constitution Amendment passed in 2010 provides for greater autonomy of the federating units and anti-corruption is now a “residuary subject”.

It states that it is the responsibility of the provinces to constitute their own autonomous accountability commissions or bureaus as has been done by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

Moreover, according to Mr Haider, there are anti-corruption departments and various inspection teams functioning under the supervision of the chief ministers in the provinces.

Leader of the House in Senate and PML-N Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq stated at the time of introduction of the bill that the government would like to hear the arguments of the mover before deciding to accept or reject it. He said the government would also like to know if the bill was being tabled by Mr Haider in line with his party’s policy.

RESOLUTIONS: The resolution condemning India for its alleged interference in Pakistan states: “This house strongly condemns the government of India for continuously sponsoring and financing terrorism in Pakistan through their spies and demands that India should immediately stop its support to terrorism in Pakistan.”

It will be moved by former interior minister Rehman Malik.

Mr Mailk, who is chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, had earlier asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, through a letter, to take strong initiatives at diplomatic and political levels against India for fomenting aggression in various parts of the country through its spy agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

The former minister, who belongs to the PPP, had emphasised that besides bilateral level, the matter might be taken up with the International Court of Justice and the United Nations Security Council, in whose agenda the issue relating to Indian interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan stood deferred since long.

The senator had written the letter against the backdrop of the arrest of an alleged RAW agent, Kulbhushan Jadhav, who in a video footage confessed to his involvement in fomenting insurgency and terrorism in Balochistan and Karachi.

The Senate is also set to take up a resolution urging the government to further reduce the oil prices and determine them in round figures.

The resolution will be tabled by Sardar Azam Khan Musakhel of the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, according to the agenda for the private members’ day.

The resolution says: “This house recommends that the government should reduce the prices of petroleum products in proportion to the reduction of their prices in international market and that the prices of those products be determined in round figures.”

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2016