ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party seems determined to have the accountability law of its choice in place before the next general elections for obvious reasons while on the other hand PML-N wants a very strong and vibrant accountability apparatus to replace the existing National Accountability Ordinance 1999.

Sources informed TheNation that PPP wanted to get the lax and lousy accountability bill tabled in the National Assembly and passed as it is, while the main opposition wanted a series of amendments in the draft bill before its enactment.

On previous date the National Assembly Standing Committee on Law and Justice under the chair of Begum Naseem Chaudhry had got most of the clauses of the ‘controversial’ bill approved by the committee while the PML-N members in the committee had vehemently opposed but as their strength was just four the majority of the members managed to get it approved.

Now the committee would take up some controversial clauses on which the opposition members have serious reservations would be taken up for deliberations in the next meeting.

The sources said that PPP wanted to get the new accountability law in place before the establishment of caretaker government with the obvious aim to save some of the key party leaders from the strong arm of accountability apparatus.

PML-N on the other hand made it loud and clear that they would not let the government through the ‘controversial’ NAC Bill.

A source in PML-N said that the party leadership has evolved a strategy to confront the ruling coalition in getting the accountability bill through from the Parliament and their Parliamentarians have already started lobbying against it.

A senior PML-N leader on condition of anonymity said that the party leadership was in contact with ANP, which, in the last National Assembly session, had also opposed the new draft of NAC Bill.

The sources in the Parliament said that PML-N wanted that matter be deferred to the next assembly as they believed that the incumbent government would not accept their demand of having accountability apparatus with administrative and monetary independence.

These sources further said that though PPP wanted to get the new NAC Bill passed during the current NA session but with ANP is completely averse to it in the current shape and with MQM having serious differences with PPP on host of issues it would seem almost impossible for the government to get it through from the Parliament.

Legal and constitutional experts commenting on the draft NAC bill termed it a fangless, which instead of bringing improvement in the existing National Accountability Ordinance 1999, carry serious lapses to the advantage of those involved in corrupt practices.

The proposed accountability bill is providing limited scope on international cooperation as Chairman NAB could make a request to foreign jurisdiction for mutual legal assistance but silent in the case Pakistan receives any similar request form some foreign state, which is in clear contravention to United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) to which Pakistan is one of the signatories.

Similarly, the new bill makes Chairman NAB more dependent on the incumbent government as both his appointment mechanism and removal would greatly depend on the sitting government whereas under NAO 1999 the procedure for removal of Chairman NAB is similar to the removal of apex court judge, which provides him a job security for his mandated term and liberty to work independently without any pressure from government.

The bill further removed the powers of the chairman to seek mutual legal assistance from some foreign jurisdiction for freezing, confiscating and disposing off assets in foreign country.

In the proposed bill the scope was limited to the public office holder and concept of ‘other persons’ is excluded leaving the people at the mercy of the corrupt elements in private sector like ‘Double Shah’ and land mafias, which are in abundance in society to fleece the innocent people.

Similarly the reduction in the imprisonment from 14 years maximum to seven years and disqualification to hold public office from 10 years to five years in the proposed bill would encourage the corrupt elements in society.