ISLAMABAD: Senators belonging to the PPP and PML-N on Tuesday called for abolishing the anti-corruption watchdog, while the law minister said that parliament had the authority to wrap up the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) or suitably amend the accountability law.

The call was first made by PPP’s Bahramand Tangi during question hour in the Senate, pointing out that as per the latest report of Transparency International, the ratio of corruption had increased in the country.

Law Minister and Leader of the House in the Senate Azam Nazir Tarar said it was a legal and constitutional matter, adding that the NAB (amendment) Ordinance was promulgated in haste and it would soon be coming to parliament. He said if the members deem NAB as a rogue institution, there would be a need for legislation. He also referred to Supreme Court’s remarks about NAB.

PML-N’s Sadia Abbasi termed NAB a discredited institution and said the government should have the courage to abolish it. “It has given nothing to the country,” she remarked and noted that it had caused harm to the country by stopping bureaucrats and businessmen from working.

PTI members stage walkout from Senate in protest against crackdown

She also said corruption by the NAB chairman and officers should be investigated.

The law minister said there should be safety valves against use of any law for arm-twisting of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen so that no one could misuse a law at his whims and wishes.

He said that as a lawyer he had seen NAB indulging in “murder of human rights”. He said results could be achieved by suitable amendments and asked the lawmakers to come up with suggestions to improve the law.

Earlier, the house, through a written reply, was informed that NAB had recovered over Rs560 billion from 2019 to 2021. According to the reply, an amount of Rs323.29bn had been recovered in 2020 alone.

“In the light of zero tolerance policy towards corruption of the present government, NAB is striving hard to eradicate corruption through its three-pronged strategy of awareness, prevention and enforcement. The enforcement regime is not only resulting in recoveries but also creating a deterrence against the menace of corruption,” the reply said.

Earlier, PTI members staged a walkout from the house to protest against what they called worst kind of state terrorism, after slamming the government for crackdown on the party’s workers, supporters and leaders ahead of its May 25 anti-government long march to Islamabad.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Dr Shahzad Waseem said that police, the other night, broke into the houses of party leaders and workers and have made a large number of arrests. He alleged that police were not only harassing the PTI leadership, but also party’s women have not been spared.

Senator Waseem said that police forcibly entered into the house of retired Justice Nasira Javed Iqbal in Lahore because she is the mother of party Senator Waleed Iqbal. “Where are those people who used to talk about law and Constitution and human rights?”

Referring to an agenda item, he said the governme nt wanted to deprive the overseas Pakistanis of their right to vote in the name of so-called electoral reforms and declared that the PTI will not become part of any such move.

Leader of the House Senator Azam Nazeer in his response reminded the opposition party that senior leaders of the PML-N, including Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Khawaja Saad Rafique and Rana Sanaullah Khan, besides MNA Ali Wazir, were put behind bars, but the speaker did not issue production orders for them.

He said the government had reports that the PTI wanted to bring hundreds of thousands of armed people from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa under the supervision of the provincial government to Islamabad.

He alleged that the previous government had bulldozed the election reforms bill in the National Assembly. “We want to give right to vote to overseas Pakistanis, but only in the light of the order of the Supreme Court,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2022

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