LAHORE: The Senate deputy chairman has warned the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman of legal action if he fails to appear before the Senate Privilege Committee and insisted that elections for the upper house of parliament can only be held in March.

Saleem Mandviwalla issued the warning to NAB chief retired Justice Javed Iqbal while talking to journalists here on Sunday.

“Legal action will be initiated against the NAB chairman if he fails to comply with the directive of the Senate committee to appear before it,” the Senate deputy chairman said.

The panel has summoned the chairman of the anti-graft watchdog on a privilege motion moved against him by Mr Mandviwalla for accusing the latter (without inquiry) of buying ‘benami’ shares in the name of a person allegedly involved in a fake accounts case.

Mandviwalla says the bureau has nothing to do with people’s private businesses

“As the Senate committee is empowered to issue warrants for anyone, we’ll issue warrants for him [NAB chief] if he refuses to appear before it,” he said.

Mr Mandviwalla accused NAB of ‘torturing’ people to force them to enter into plea bargains instead of proving any case of wrongdoings against them, adding that the bureau had nothing to do with private businesses of citizens.

He regretted that the anti-graft body had also begun investigating affairs of residential societies.

In reply to a question, he admitted that not amending the NAB law by the PPP and the PML-N during their respective tenures was their failure and said that had the job been done at that time, the situation would not have reached the present point.

The Senate deputy chairman had earlier vowed to get the anti-corruption panel “blacklisted” not only in Pakistan but also across the world, alleging that several people had died in NAB’s custody.

He had promised to call relatives of the victims as well as those who had struck plea bargains with NAB to the Senate for investigating the treatment meted out to them by the bureau.

Though Justice Iqbal assured Mr Mandviwalla of personally looking into his complaints, the latter vowed to continue his efforts for holding NAB accountable.

The Senate deputy chairman argued that each state institution should hold its people accountable on its own and likewise parliament should investigate allegations, if any, against the parliamentarians.

The PPP leader told a questioner that resigning from parliament was a constitutional right of political parties and they could do so if and when they considered it to be appropriate.

“Resignations are not unheard of in parliamentary history. Elected representatives show their no-trust [on multiple issues and governments] in parliaments across the world.”

In reply to a question about holding Senate elections one month prior to its scheduled time frame, he insisted that polls could be held only in March and no one could change the schedule.

“The election schedule will be given only after [50 per cent] senators will retire in March. The rest is just gossiping,” he added.

Referring to the issue of government-opposition talks, Mr Mandviwalla said there seemed to be a change in the stance of the government as its ministers were now talking of holding dialogue with the opposition.

Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2020

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