ISLAMABAD: In line with his PTI’s stance, President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday did not give his assent to a bill regarding amendments to the National Account­ability Ordinance (NAO), terming it “regressive that will cripple long arm of the law and promote corruption in the country”.

On Sunday, the president had returned electoral reforms bill unsigned.

The two bills were approved by the National Assembly and Senate last month and were sent to the president for appro­val. However, Mr Alvi sent them back to the government unsigned on June 4.

In response to the president’s refusal to approve the bills, the government convened a joint sitting of the parliament on June 9 and the two bills were approved by the joint sitting the same day.

PTI observes ‘black day’; Fawad calls move ‘NRO-2’ for Sharifs, Zardari

After the bills are passed by the joint sitting of parliament, they are sent to the president for his assent. If the president does not give his assent to a joint session of parliament-approved bill within 10 days, it is deemed to have been approved.

According to a statement issued by the Presidency, Dr Alvi said he believed the bill to be “regressive in nature and it would promote corruption by ensuring that the long arm of the law is crippled”.

President Alvi further said that the bill sent a message to the corrupt, who had amassed tremendous wealth that he/she, was not accountable to anyone and was free to continue to plunder the country.

“This law, like all other laws vesting authority in the executive, was abused for political exigencies by those in power. Because of this reason, along with the role of vested interests, the accountability process in Pakistan has become quite ineffective. While the public clamoured for the return of looted wealth, the long judicial processes involved and ineffective prosecution actually made it very difficult to expose, prevent and eliminate corruption,” the president said.

“Having weak accountability is against the basic rights of the people of Pakistan [...] it is also against the fundamentals of our Constitution,” the president said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has said that the National Accountability (Amendment Bill, 2022,) which took effect on Monday, would help ‘the cabal of crooks to get another NRO’.

In a series of tweets, the PTI chairman criticised the coalition government for amending the NAB ordinance and said the government move would destroy the country as the amendment would protect white-collar criminals from accountability.

“Today is a black day in the country’s history as the imported government of crooks’ amended NAB law has taken effect, ending accountability of white-collar criminals,” Mr Khan said.

The PTI leader reiterated that the country’s economic and political system had been derailed through the US-backed regime change conspiracy ‘simply to give this cabal of crooks another NRO’.

“At a time when the economy of Pakistan had stabilised and it was moving towards sustainable growth of 6pc, the conspirators chose to destabilise the country by sending economy into a tailspin and dropping the price bomb on the masses, in order to give these criminals NRO-2,” the PTI chief said. He said the amended law would clip NAB’s powers and Rs1,100 billion of the Rs1,200bn under investigation of NAB would now be out of the bureau’s jurisdiction and give this ‘criminal mafia’ its NRO-2.

Meanwhile, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry told a news conference that the amended NAB law was actually an NRO-2 for the Sharif and Zardari families.

He said the PTI observed Black Day on Monday against NAB’s amended law as this ‘cabal of crooks’ wanted by NAB, made the amendment to the law to exonerate themselves from mega corruption cases.He said that under the amended NAB law, assets in the name of wife, children or anyone else could not be investigated now.

Ikram Junaidi also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2022

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