ISLAMABAD: Main­stream political parties on Wednesday could not reach a consensus on how judges and generals would be brought under the purview of the proposed National Accountability Commission (NAC) that would replace the National Accountability Bureau.

A decision in this regard was expected at an in-camera meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on NAB Ordinance held in the Parliament House under the chairmanship of Law Minister Zahid Hamid. The meeting was attended by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Farhatullah Babar, MNA Naveed Qamar, Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman and Senator Javed Abbasi.

The committee, however, took a unanimous decision that the offence of wilful default of bank loans, matter of cheating and criminal breach of trust would be excluded from NAC laws.

Parliamentary panel decides to exclude offence of wilful default of bank loans from NAB laws

Senator Babar put forward a proposal about the definition of a holder of public office under which judges and generals should be accountable by the NAC.

“The committee discussed the proposal of Farhatullah Babar and it was agreed that the members of the committee would discuss the matter with their party heads and would come up with their points of view in the next meeting,” the law minister said.

The existing National Accountability Ordinance, promulgated by former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf in 1999, brought public office-holders, civil servants, politicians and even civilians under the law, but exempted personnel of the armed forces as well as judges of superior courts.

The minister said the committee had unanimously agreed that wilful default of bank loans, cheating and criminal breach of trusts would be excluded from the accountability laws and would be dealt with by other anti-corruption departments and banking courts.

“We will incorporate wilful default of loans laws into the Financial Recovery Act (FRC). Similarly, those concerned with cheating and criminal breach of trusts are already available in Pakistan Penal Code,” he said.

Mr Hamid said that only the Muttahida Qaumi Movement had objected to the transfer of willful default loan laws from NAC to the FRC. He said the committee also discussed a proposal whether the NAC laws should apply to the whole country since Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh had their own accountability laws.

The law minister said the issue of KP and Sindh accountability laws was in courts and the Peshawar High Court had clarified that in case of any clash between the laws of NAB and KP Ehtesab Commission, the laws of the federal government would prevail.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2017