ISLAMABAD: Terming Prime Minister Imran Khan’s act of allowing exemption to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman from attending meetings of the parliamentary committees ‘interference’ in the affairs of the parliament, PPP Senator Raza Rabbani on Friday asked National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser to take notice of the situation.

“The executive, even if it be the prime minister, cannot exempt or nominate another person to appear before the parliament in place of the one who is summoned.

The step so taken by the prime minister in the matter of the NAB chairman is an infringement on the powers of the Parliament, violation of the rules and against the concept of trichotomy of power as envisaged in the Constitution,” said Mr Rabbani in a statement.

The statement from Mr Rabbani came a day after members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday ended its meeting in protest after the panel came to know that NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal would not be attending it that he had asked a senior official to represent him with the approval of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The PAC members, who had come to attend the special in-camera meeting which had been convened at the request of the NAB chairman, were surprised to see a letter written to National Assembly secretary Tahir Hussain by the NAB chairman’s office, telling him that the prime minister had nominated the director general (DG) NAB headquarters to represent the bureau chairman in the meeting.

The opposition members blasted the NAB chairman over his behaviour and even asked PAC chairman Rana Tanveer to move a privilege motion against him in the National Assembly to make him accountable before the parliament.

The NAB chairman, who had been avoiding successive meetings despite repeated summons, had finally appeared before the PAC for the first time on Dec 7 last year, but requested to convene an in-camera meeting to review the performance of his organisation.

Talking to reporters after adjourning the meeting in protest, Mr Tanveer said the PAC had decided to call the NAB chairman again through a letter.

Referring to the letter produced by the NAB DG before the committee, the PAC chairman said they would seek an explanation from the cabinet secretary if such a letter had any legal justification.

This act of the prime minister, he said, had also cast a deeper shadow on the already questionable independence of NAB “when it takes refuge under the wings of the executive.”

“The executive will be well-advised to withdraw this order as it is interference in the functioning of the parliament and violates the sovereignty of parliament,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2022

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