Senate passes key NAB bill as Opposition walks out
Raza Rabbani urges govt to proceed against Imran Khan under Article 62-(1) (f) of the Constitution for signing inaccurate certificates for 5 years.
ISLAMABAD – The Upper House of Parliament on Thursday passed the National Accountability Bureau (Second Amendment) Bill, 2022 amidst uproar.
With the opposition alleging that the ruling coalition wanted to hamstring the anti-graft watchdog to facilitate its top leadership and the government insisting that the amendments were in public interest, the opposition started protest in the House when Minister of State for Law and Justice Shahadat Awan moved a motion seeking suspension of rules to introduce the bill. The opposition benches came up with the slogans of ‘no, no’ and thumping desks. Speaking on the occasion, PTI leader Shibli Faraz said the clear intent of the bill was to make NAB a toothless organisation. He said it was being done by a government facing serious corruption charges with 60 percent of its cabinet members on bail. He said the present coalition government lacks moral justification to enact legislation that will directly benefit its top leadership. He said the NAB after the passage of the bill will have no jurisdiction to proceed against corruption of less than 500 million (half a billion) rupees. “If this is the standard, release all prisoners from jails who committed corruption less than that”, he sarcastically said. Senator Mushtaq Ahmed of Jamaat-e-Islami said the bill is proposed to come into effect from 1999, stressing that a criminal law cannot be given retrospective effect. He criticised the government for creating ‘two Pakistan’. “One where a small thief goes to jails and the bigger one goes to the parliament,” he remarked.
Minister of State for Law Shahadat Awan claimed he can prove these amendments were being brought in public interest. The opposition members rose in their seats after a voice vote to allow consideration of the bill, chanted slogans and gathered around the chair’s podium throwing torn up copies of the agenda all around. The opposition members walked out of the House in protest before the bill was passed.
The House also witnessed the government and opposition members sparring over the recent verdict of the ECP in the prohibited funding case against PTI. Former Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani in his speech said the ECP in its verdict has ruled that the PTI received funding from prohibited sources. He said the party has been found to have received from over 350 foreign companies and is hiding several accounts. On the question if the government will file a reference seeking ban on PTI under Article 17 or not, he said the government is to choose between legal and constitutional paths. He said in his personal view, the government should proceed against Imran Khan under Article 63-(1) (f) of the Constitution for signing grossly inaccurate certificates with annual statements of assets of the party for five consecutive years.
He said there should also be criminal investigations against PTI leaders who managed hidden and disowned accounts.