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ISLAMABAD: The main opposition parties on Thursday sharply reacted to remarks made earlier in the day by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal and urged him not to become a ‘mouthpiece’ of the government.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lambasted the NAB chief for criticising the leaders of the two parties and insisted that the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO)-1999 introduced by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf was indeed a “black law”.

The NAB chairman, while speaking at a function in Multan, asked if the NAB law was a black law then why previous governments had not scrapped it.

Recently, PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari had said that the country’s economy would not progress if NAB continued to function the way it was functioning.

In his remarks, the NAB chairman said that people who claimed NAB and the economy could not run together were wrong, adding that in fact NAB and corruption could not go together.

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said the NAB law was a black law, wondering what had compelled him [NAB chief] to come out in support of the government. “He [NAB chairman], being a government official, should not become a mouthpiece of the government,” she said.

Ms Aurangzeb admitted that it was a failure on the part of the opposition that the NAB law was not changed during the last governments of the PML-N and PPP.

The anti-corruption watchdog has recently tightened the noose around many opposition leaders. It has laid its hand on senior politicians, including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and government officials for being involved in corrupt practices. Many politicians from the PPP and PML-N who are being probed by the bureau have criticised NAB.

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at several press conferences and rallies termed the NAB law a “black law”.

PPP information secretary Senator Moula Bakhsh Chandio said the NAB chief’s political speech had vindicated the reservations expressed by the opposition.

He said the NAB chief had used the language commonly used by Prime Minister Imran Khan against the opposition.

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2019