Opposition help sought to boost accountability law

Published July 23, 2020
Leader of the House in the Senate Dr Shahzad Wasim (R) asks opposition not to be selective in admiring and accepting verdicts of superior courts. — DawnNewsTV/File
Leader of the House in the Senate Dr Shahzad Wasim (R) asks opposition not to be selective in admiring and accepting verdicts of superior courts. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday asked the opposition to help strengthen the accountability law and address its weaknesses through suitable amendments.

Responding to the opposition’s demand in the Senate for dissolving the anti-graft watchdog and repealing the accountability law, Leader of the House in the Senate Dr Shahzad Wasim said the intent should be to make the accountability process fair, transparent and across-the-board, and not to escape accountability.

Chiding the opposition for “playing up” a recent judgement of the Supreme Court with detailed remarks about NAB, he agreed accountability and credibility should go together and the weaknesses pointed out by the apex court needed to be removed.

However, he asked the opposition not to be selective in admiring and accepting verdicts of superior courts.

Senate to pass resolution on occupied Kashmir on Aug 5

Mr Wasim said paragraph 93 of the judgement relied on by the opposition said the observations were tentative in nature and would have no bearing on the outcome of the reference (against the Khwaja brothers).

He reminded the PML-N that the judgement passed by a five-member bench of the apex court in the Panama Papers case had referred to 1969 novel “Godfather” which was the story of a mafia family. He recalled that the judgment had used the famous quote: “The secret of a great success for which you are at a loss to account is a crime never been found out, because it was properly executed.”

He said the judgement had also said: “The fortune amassed by respondent No. 1 is indeed huge and no plausible or satisfactory explanation has been advanced in that regard.”

The leader of the house in the Senate said all judgements of the apex court need to be equally respected.

He said the National Ehtesab Commission led by Saifur Rehman had been formed in 1997 with the basic purpose of making cases against Benazir Bhutto and her aides.

He said the NAB ordinance of General Musharraf had not been touched during the tenures of the PML-N and PPP governments.

He said the incumbent chairman of NAB had also been appointed by the two parties in consultation with each other.

Earlier, raising the issue in the house, Senator Javed Abbasi of the PML-N called for convening the committee of the whole to discuss the Supreme Court’s remarks about NAB.

He pointed out that the judgement observed that the accountability law had been used to pressurise people to switch loyalties, break political parties and twist arms of the opponents and for political engineering.

Mr Abbasi said he was a supporter of accountability but it must be across-the-board and not merely to malign political opponents.

He said it was incumbent upon the parliament to discuss the accountability law and formulate a future plan.

Former chairman of the Senate Mian Raza Rabbani said the parliament must play its role for a new accountability law and body.

He said a federal accountability commission should be formed for across-the-board accountability, irrespective of whether any accused was from judiciary, military, civil service and parliament or was a politician. He stressed that there should be no holy cows.

He said the proposed commission should have representation of all stakeholders.

He said the arbitrary powers of the NAB chairman, including those for arrests and plea bargain deals, should be abolished.

Mr Rabbani suggested formation of a joint parliamentary committee of both houses of the parliament to prepare a new law in a specified time-frame.

He said the parliament would be seen as a criminal in the history if it failed to play its role now.

PML-N parliamentary leader in the Senate Mushahid Ullah Khan said NAB was being used for victimisation of political opponents.

He alleged there was a collusion between the government and NAB and said the Supreme Court judgment had exposed both.

On the suggestion of Jamaat-i-Islami chief Senator Sirajul Haq for observing as black day August 5 -- the anniversary of India’s unilateral decision of taking away the special status of occupied Kashmir and clamping down curfew and lockdown there, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan assured the chair that the foreign minister would be coming to the house when a session to mark the day was held.

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani announced that the house would meet on August 5 when a strong resolution on Kashmir would be passed.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2020

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