Law amended to control ‘misuse’ of NAB power: Tarar

ISLAMABAD    –    The coalition government on Monday assured the Senate that the NAB law recently passed by the joint sitting of the parliament was meant to prevent the “misuse” of top anti-corruption watchdog for “political victimization” after the opposition protested in the house over the enactment of legislation.

The remarks of Law Minister and Leader of the House Azam Nazeer Tarar came after the opposition PTI and Jamaat-e-Islami participated in the sitting while wearing black ribbons on their arms to mark their protest on the enactment of the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill yesterday (Monday).

The opposition PTI labelled the enforcement of the amended NAB law as tantamount to availing NRO-II (National Reconciliation Ordinance) by the coalition government to get relief in the corruption cases against them and called the day as “black day.”

The bill that amended the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 seeks to clip powers of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), claims the opposition.

On June 9, the joint sitting had passed the controversial bill after President Dr Arif Alvi refused to sign it and sent it back to the parliament for reconsideration.

Senator Tarar told the house that it rarely happened that the accountability law was neither questioned in the past nor used for political victimization. He offered the opposition leader to sit with him to have a look at the law clause by clause claiming that 85 per cent amendments made in the law were the same introduced by the last PTI government through two ordinances. But then government failed to table these ordinances before the parliament, he added.

The leader of house reminded the lawmakers how NAB law was misused before and after the 2002 elections during military regime of General (retd) Pervez Musharraf and politicians were put in jails to get their loyalties changed in favour of certain “official” party — a reference towards Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q). He accused that NAB has always been used for political engineering and the same was done during the last PTI regime. “This was the worst period.”

Senator Tarar said that senior bureaucrats had even refused to work fearing NAB action as a result of which the country had to suffer losses of billions. He chided the opposition PTI for getting NRO and accused that corruption scandals of the last government involving Farah Khan, a close friend of wife of PTI chief Imran Khan, former chief minister Usman Buzdar and former adviser on accountability Barrister Shahzad Akbar were surfacing every day.

Earlier, Chairman Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions Senator Hillalur Rehman presented a special report of the committee about alleged corruption and embezzlement in the funds of development schemes executed by the Pak PWD in tribal districts of Mohmand and Bajaur for the financial year 2021-2022. He also told the house that most of the work of these schemes was shown only on the papers.

On this, Leader of the Opposition Dr Shahzad Waseem objected to the report and said that tribal areas had become victims of political confrontation. He said that the development work in these areas had been halted in the name of this probe.

He went on to say that today is the ‘black day’ as NAB law has come into effect. “Today, NRO-II has come into being,” he said, adding that a new history was being written in the country. He said that all main political parties have joined together to get relief in corruption cases through NRO-11 in the same manner as they had availed NRO, controversial law promulgated by Musharraf in 2007, which gave amnesty to those politicians and bureaucrats who were accused of committing corruption.

PPP Senator Mian Raza Rabbani on a point of public concern sought from the chair to direct the minister of defence to take the house into confidence over the status of ongoing talks with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Rabbani pointed out that a grand jirga was negotiating with the group but it couldn’t be a substitute of the parliament. He said that the acceptability of any agreement made with the TTP would remain under question as long as it is not placed and discussed at the forum of parliament.

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