ISLAMABAD - Initiating the process for the appointment of National Accountability Bureau chairman, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has proposed two names – Justice (r) Rehman Hussain Jaffery and Khawaja Zaheer – through a letter written to Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah.

However, the sources close to Pakistan People’s Party said Khursheed Shah had already given two names to the prime minister, but instead of picking any of these two names, the prime minister had come up with his own choice, which showed both the leaders were not on the same page.

The PPP sources further said Khursheed Shah had proposed the names of Justice(r) Sardar Raza Khan and Justice(r) Mamoon Qazi.

Sources close to Khursheed Shah said he was disturbed over rejection of his proposed names by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The leader of the opposition said that after the passage of 18th Constitutional Amendment and in the light of the verdict in the Asfandyar Wali versus State case, the meaningful, purposive and result-oriented consultation between the prime minister and leader of the opposition was compulsory for the appointment of NAB chairman. The two chairmen in the past had lost their jobs on the writ petitions of the then leader of opposition Ch Nisar Ali Khan on the plea that he had not been properly consulted in the process.

Legal and constitutional experts said the Supreme Court had invoked its role of arbitrator in the appointment process of NAB chairman, which it had withdrawn while announcing its verdict in Asfandyar Wali versus State case, with a view to enhancing the powers of the leader of opposition in this regard.

In its verdict on the petition of the then leader of the opposition, the Supreme Court removed NAB Chairman Admiral (r) Fasih Bokhari on the ground that meaningful consultation with Ch Nisar regarding the appointment of the NAB chairman was not made and his genuine concerns were not properly addressed.

In the verdict, the court had discussed its role of arbitrator in the process in the light of articles 152, 159 (4) and 213 and concluded that if the PM and the leader of the opposition genuinely wanted to bring a suitable and efficient person for the job, consultation on the matter with the chief justice of Pakistan would bring positive input in the process; especially, in case of disagreement between the PM and the leader of the opposition, the role of an arbitrator would be of great help.

The sources said that in the given situation both the leader of the opposition and the prime minister did not seem to be on the same page as Nawaz had rejected both the names given by the leader of opposition. “There are less chances of some positive response from his side as well and most likely the names proposed by the prime minister would see a tit-for-tat response from the leader of opposition.

It merits mentioning here that Justice Jaffery headed the one-man tribunal which heard the plane hijacking case against Nawaz Sharif when Pervez Musharraf toppled his government. On the other hand, Khawaja Zaheer is a retired bureaucrat whose name was proposed by the previous PML-N government for the caretaker Punjab chief minister, but it was rejected by PPP. It seems unlikely that PPP will approve his name for the NAB chief slot this time.

Earlier, the government had informed the Supreme Court that it had kicked off the consultation process with the opposition for appointment of NAB chairman.

According to the NAB Ordinance, the chairman has to be appointed through consultation with the leader of the opposition. Moreover, the Supreme Court has ordered ‘meaningful’ consultation between the government and the opposition for the purpose.

Two former NAB chairmen, Justice (r) Syed Deedar Hussain Shah and Fasih Bokhari, have been sent home by the Supreme Court on the petitions separately filed by the then leader of the opposition who had contended that no meaningful consultation had taken place between him and the then PPP government for both appointments.

Admiral Bokhari who was appointed on October 17, 2011, was removed on May 29 while Justice Shah was appointed on October 19, 2010, and sent home on March 11, 2011.