LAHORE: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has called for dissolution of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and resignation of its chief in the wake of the recent Supreme Court verdict on the Khawaja brothers’ bail application.
He said the opposition’s multi-party conference would be held only after the health of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif improved.
“After the Supreme Court verdict, NAB is left with no justification to continue working; therefore it should be disbanded and its chairman should resign from his office,” the PPP leader said at a press conference at Bilawal House here on Wednesday.
“I’ve always been saying that NAB is being used for political engineering and now the Supreme Court has confirmed this,” he said, reading out excerpts from the apex court’s verdict on the bail application of Khawaja Saad Rafiq and Khawaja Salman Rafiq.
Says MPC to be held after improvement in Shahbaz’s health
Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that Benazir Bhutto’s and his own stance on NAB stood vindicated and now the parliament should legislate for across-the-board accountability.
“If NAB follows the Supreme Court judgment then it must arrest all advisers and special assistants to the prime minister and also the accused in [PTI] foreign funding case, Peshawar BRT project, Malam Jabba resort and other scams.”
He said that the Transparency International had described the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government as the most corrupt administration in the history of the country and now even party leaders were admitting corruption in their ranks.
In response to a question, the PPP leader said that all the people, including Khursheed Shah, who were in NAB custody, should be released.
He also condemned NAB for summoning Mr Sharif and said: “No one should play politics on anybody’s health. Shahbaz Sharif is a cancer patient.”
Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that a delegation of the PML-N had recently met him and they discussed different options in the current national political scene and set up committees for holding a multi-party conference (MPC) of the opposition.
An agenda was being prepared for the MPC keeping in mind needs of the people, he said, adding that the MPC would be held after recovery of Mr Sharif.
Apparently to neutralise the impact of the views expressed about the PML-N in a PPP leaders’ meeting on Tuesday, he said that the PPP and the PML-N had cordial working relations. “We will work together. Whatever decision has to be taken [in the political arena], it will be taken jointly by the opposition.”
He told a questioner that both the options of mid-term election and in-house change were under consideration of the PPP and a final decision would be taken at an appropriate time.
He said that the government was trying to introduce a piece of legislation on the pretext of compliance with the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force, but warned that it would usurp basic human rights. “The PPP has always been ready to support anti-terrorism legislation but if it does not fight terrorism then PPP cannot support the government.”
The PPP chief lamented that Punjab, the largest province with the most resources, had been handed over to an “under-training team” and thus was being ruined. He cautioned that Punjab was the bread basket of the country and if agriculture in the province suffered due to the ‘inefficient’ government, entire Pakistan would suffer.
He said the results of (actions taken by) ‘selected’ governments were before the people. “The economy, democracy and society suffer the most due to selected governments. Everybody is in loss when an engineered government is imposed on the people of Pakistan. The country is about to face its worst economic crisis. We are going through a pandemic and experiencing attacks on crops by locusts. Now, political engineering should end.”
Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that the PPP never talked about “minus one” and would never do so. Rather it was the prime minister himself who had mentioned the formula in the National Assembly.
Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2020