ISLAMABAD: The opposition in the Senate on Tuesday continued its protest against the controversial amendments to the accountability law, ac­­cusing the government of legitimising corruption.

After getting the chair’s nod for a half-hour discussion on the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) amendment bill, the opposition members lambasted Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal for his purported remarks that corruption did not impede economic development.

Former minister Shibli Faraz alleged that the present government had come to power through a conspiracy to give “NRO-2” (relief in corruption cases) to itself. He said the NAB and the elections amendment bills had been passed in haste, alleging that both drafts had been amended with an intention to protect corruption and corrupt practices. “They have solved their cases by enacting an immoral law,” he remarked.

The PTI senator lamented that the anti-graft watchdog had been made subservient to the Interior Ministry. Under Section 25-D of the NAB amendment law, he maintained, if one of the accomplices entered into a plea bargain, it would not be used against other witnesses and suspects. He said it was a classic example of becoming a judge in one’s own case, and noted the amendments had a direct link with the recent money laundering case against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Rabbani suggests parliamentary oversight of defence budget, intelligence apparatus

He said it was for the defendants to justify accumulation of assets beyond means, but the controversial amendment reversed the condition and placed the onus of proof on the prosecution. All of this was being done to quash the corruption cases worth Rs1,100 to 1,200 billion.

“The faces of those trying to legitimise corruption should be unmasked before the people. The leadership of those sitting on my left is corrupt to the core,” Mr Faraz said, pointing towards the treasury benches.

Senator Ejaz Chaudhry, also from the PTI, said the premier and 60 per cent of his cabinet were involved in various cases, adding that an accused could not become the judge in a case against himself. Under Section 14 of the NAB amendment law, the definition of assets had been changed and now nobody would be answerable for the assets amassed in the names of family members.

He said the amendments would help the leadership of the PPP and PML-N get relief in corrupt­ion cases. He mentioned some ‘tailor-made’ ame­ndments, which according to him would specifically benefit PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari, PM Sharif, former PM Nawaz Sharif, National Asse­m­bly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, former PM Sha­hid Khaqan Abbassi and PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz.

Leader of the House Azam Nazir Tarar said the accountability process should not be carried out at the cost of human rights and the economy.

PPP stalwart and former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani proposed parliamentary oversight of the defence budget and the intelligence apparatus.

Taking part in the budget discussion, he said parliamentary oversight of the defence budget should be assigned to the defence committees of both the houses that could scrutinize the revenue expenditure, including pay and allowances, transportation, light transport/vehicles, rations, petrol, oil and military businesses etc.

“Once this practice takes root, later the capital expenditure can also be taken into consideration,” he suggested.

Mr Rabbani also proposed parliamentary oversight of the intelligence apparatus, and said a Standing Committees on Intelligence should be constituted for the purpose. “This is not a new experience, as such committees existed in international jurisdictions,” he added.

Noting that Pakistan’s financial and economic sovereignty had been “sold out” to international financial “imperialist institutions”, he said the contours of the budget had been finalised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF agreement should be renegotiated on new terms and conditions.

“A lot of water has flown under the bridge, with new realities emerging both in the national and world economies,” he commented.

The senior PPP leader urged the government not to take dictation from the IMF or World Bank, and parliament being a sovereign institute should take decisions on the budget. The IMF condition to maintain one federal account with the central bank should be revisited as international financial institutions wanted to keep the country’s security institutions under their oversight, he believed.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Uncertainty remains in Punjab
Updated 02 Jul, 2022

Uncertainty remains in Punjab

With the latest verdict, the judiciary seems to have unintentionally entered the political arena, which is not desirable.
Turbulence in tech
02 Jul, 2022

Turbulence in tech

THE party seems to have cooled considerably for the Pakistani start-up scene. With some of the world’s biggest...
Environmental cost
02 Jul, 2022

Environmental cost

THE collective impact of climate-disaster-health hazards are already taking a huge toll on Pakistan’s fragile...
Udaipur killing
Updated 01 Jul, 2022

Udaipur killing

The crime committed in Udaipur did not happen in a vacuum.
Unacceptable demand
Updated 01 Jul, 2022

Unacceptable demand

Negotiating with extremists is tricky; no peace treaty with them has lasted beyond a few months.
Tough times ahead
01 Jul, 2022

Tough times ahead

THE finance ministry’s projection of 15pc inflation, much higher than the targeted rate of 11.5pc, during the new...