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.

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