ISLAMABAD - Government and opposition parties negotiated to restructure the much-talked-about and controversial accountability law and to replace the same with a ‘more transparent’ law, but the former looked unwilling to accommodate the latter.

The government and opposition parties’ leadership had initial meeting on the subject last week in the chamber of Federal Law Minister Barrister Farogh Naseem and had preliminary discussion on the matter.

Soon after coming into power, Prime Minister Imran Khan constituted a task force under the head of the federal law minister to revisit the NAB law as he was one of the strong critics of the law as according to him, the loopholes and lacunae in the law had been profusely misused either to favour the corrupts or to victimise the political opponents.

Last month, in its maiden meeting, the task force decided to consult all stakeholders and have their input in revamping the existing NAB law with the aim to make it more effective and transparent in its function.

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) which remained relatively dormant before stepping in of Justice (R) Javid Iqbal in the position of its chairman and as the main opposition parties – the PML-N and the PPP – leadership came under scrutiny, both these parties raised hue and cry and dragged the NAB into politics, terming the cases and inquiries against their leaders as politically motivated and biased.

Although the appointment of Justice (R) Javid Iqbal as chairman NAB was made by the previous PML-N government in consultation with the then opposition PPP but still the leadership of both the parties are still terming inquiries and cases against them as politically motivated.

It is interesting to mention here that from 2008 to 2017, the successive governments of PPP and PML-N failed to bring a law to replace the NAB Ordinance 2002 to pave way for independent and transparent accountability apparatus in the country.

Both these parties in Charter of Democracy (CoD) signed by Nawaz Sharif and late Benazir Bhutto in exile agreed to replace the existing NAB Ordinance with National Accountability Commission but in their successive governments from 2008 to 2017, both the parties failed to land on same page in this regard.

Both the parties remained engaged in hectic consultations in the parliamentary committees of both the houses but could not evolve consensus on a unanimously acceptable draft of new law, so it could not be passed through the Parliament.

During the PPP government from 2008-13, the PML-N wanted to make the new NAB apparatus free of government control both administratively and monetarily. It was not acceptable to the PPP government, which wanted the new National Accountability Commission under the control of the government, more precisely under the Ministry of Law and Justice.

But when the PML-N came into power in 2013, it had also put the issue of replacing NAB with some new law on backburner and no significant progress was made in this connection as both the PML-N and PP P leadership was comfortable with Qamar Zaman Chaudhry as Chairman NAB.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan throughout these years had been criticising the NAB and its biased role and over involvement of the political governments in it.

As the focal point of his whole governance edifice was built on weeding out corruption from the system and to spruce up governance through accountability and transparency, so soon after coming into power, his main focus was on restructuring the accountability apparatus and to make it powerful took against massively infested with corruption system.

Insiders in the PTI-led coalition government informed The Nation that the government was in no mood to entertain the proposals and suggestions which would make the NAB law complex and would rather focus on making it independent and powerful in all respects.

These sources said that the government would not be in a mood to bring some new law like the one proposed in CoD to replace NAB with National Accountability Commission (NAC) but would restructure the existing NAB law by removing lacunae in it.

After his informal meeting with the PML-N and PPP lawmakers last week, Federal Law Minister Farogh Naseem said that the opposition parties had presented their perspective regarding the amendments to the NAB law.

The federal law minister said that the intention behind the formation of the task force was to reform the NAB law in terms of making it more focused and effective ‘to counter mega corruption with suitable checks and balances to avoid unnecessary harassment’.

Dr Farogh said that all stakeholders must be taken into confidence and public opinion and support was needed to be kept in mind while preparing a new accountability law.