• Several names put forward by both govt and opposition
• Minister denies proposing any candidate

ISLAMABAD: Search for the new chairman of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has formally started after names of prospective candidates for the slot surfaced on Monday.

Among the hopefuls are serving and retired bureaucrats as well as a former judge of the Supreme Court.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Law and Justice initiated the process to appoint the new NAB chairman and forwarded the summary to President Dr Arif Alvi for approval. The tenure of the incumbent chairman, retired Justice Javed Iqbal, had expired in October. However, the government extended his term through a presidential ordinance.

The recent amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) allowed Justice Iqbal to continue till his replacement was found.

According to sources, the government is considering the names of Interior Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar, Religious Affairs Secretary retired Capt Sardar Ijaz Ahmed Khan Jaffer and former Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general Mohammad Aamlish.

However, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry denied such a development.

In a tweet, the minister said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government had so far not proposed any name for NAB chairman and termed the news incorrect.

He said a decision on the new chief of the anti-graft watchdog would be taken in a few days after proper consultation.

On the other hand, sources said a four-member committee of the opposition parties proposed retired Justice Dost Mohammad Khan, former bureaucrats Nasir Saeed Khan Khosa, Salman Siddique and Jalil Abbas Jillani for the post.

The Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) backed former Supreme Court judge Justice Dost Mohammad Khan, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) nominated ex-Punjab chief secretary Khosa as well as former federal secretary Siddique whereas Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) suggested former foreign affairs secretary Jillani for the top NAB post.

Meanwhile, the law ministry, in the summary forwarded to President Alvi, pointed out that in light of a Supreme Court judgement, the president was supposed to consult the prime minister and the opposition leader in the National Assembly for the appointment of NAB chairman.

The ordinance amended sub-section b of NAO’s section 6 to give extension to the NAB chairman by excluding the word “non-extendable” from the statute.

Section 5 says: “There shall be a Chairman, National Accountability Bureau, to be appointed by the President in consultation with the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly.”

Sources said although there was no timeframe to complete meaningful consultation, in case the president felt that the prime minister and the opposition leader could not reach a consensus on a name, he can refer the matter to the parliamentary committee.

Clause (ii) of Section 5 of the NAO states that the committee shall be constituted by the National Assembly speaker comprising 50 per cent members from the treasury benches and the remaining from the opposition based on their strength in the Majlis-i-Shoora (Parliament), to be nominated by the respective parliamentary leaders.

Clause (iii) provides that the parliamentary committee may confirm any name for appointment as chairman.

As per the amended NAO, the total strength of the parliamentary committee shall be 12 members, out of which one-third will be from the Senate.

“If the National Assembly is dissolved at the material time, all members of the committee shall be from the Senate,” the law says.

Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2021

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