ISLAMABAD - The newly-constituted Parliamentary Committee on NAB Wednesday unanimously elected Law Minister Zahid Hamid as its chairman besides devising its terms of reference to examine the loopholes in the prevalent NAB laws.

The 20-member body in its maiden meeting saw opposition members coming up with strong criticism on government for making changes in the plea bargain clause of the NAB laws through an ordinance, and demanded of the government to withdraw the ordinance and let the parliament decide about the fate of the accountability laws.

Some of the members of the committee from opposition parties suggested bringing the judiciary and the army in the ambit of the new accountability laws, and said that without doing this, the dream of blanket accountability could not be materialised.

On the suggestions of the opposition members, it was decided in the meeting that the deliberations and working of parties on the Ehtesab Commission during the previous government of the PPP, the accountability bills moved by Jamaat-i-Islami and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in the parliament and all other deliberations on the subject in the recent past should be presented before the 20-member parliamentary panel for review. Defining the ToRs of the committee it was agreed that the committee would function on the pattern of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms, while one-fourth of the strengthen would be mandatory for holding of the meeting.

It was further decided that any member of the committee could nominate someone else in his place to attend any session of the committee meeting, while in case of disagreement on any point of the clause the committee could decide with simple majority vote.

At the outset of the committee meeting, State Minister for Information Technology Anoosha Rehman had proposed the name of Law Minister Zahid Hamid for the slot of chairman of the committee, while Sentor Javid Abbasi and Senator Saud Majid had seconded the name.

As no one came up with any opposition to the proposal, Law Minister Zahid Hamid become the unopposed chairman of the parliamentary committee on NAB reform.

Soon after completion of the election process, the PTI central leader, Shah Mahmood Qureshi came up with scathing criticism on the government for bringing change in the NAB laws through an ordinance.

He demanded that either the government should withdraw the ordinance or dissolve this committee as all they would be doing seemed meaningless and futile when the government was to run the affairs through ordinances.

The opposition members also wanted to broaden the scope and ambit of the committee, which was agreed by the chairman of the committee and said that they could get its approval from the parliament.

Zahid Hamid defending the position of the government on changes in plea-bargain clause of the NAB laws said that as the said clause was already suspended by the apex court so they government was left with no choice but to ratify it through an ordinance.

He further said that if the committee did not agree with the amendments it could be changed.

Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) chief and Member of National Assembly Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao said that the scope of the NAB's accountability powers should be expanded, stating: "Generals and judges should also be added to the purview of the accountability ordinance."

Senator Farhatullah Babar supported the suggestion of Sherpao, and opined, "the law will not be complete, if only politicians and bureaucrats are held accountable." The next session of the parliamentary committee, fixed for January 17, will be held in-camera.