ISLAMABAD - Chairman Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan yesterday himself had to come out to defend the amendments made by his party's provincial government in the KP Ehtesab Commission law after facing criticism that PTI had curtailed the powers of anti-corruption watchdog.

At the same time, Imran Khan warned the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), saying that any of its move to clip powers of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) would be thwarted by his party tooth and nail.

While addressing a press conference at his residence in Bani Gala along with Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhaw (KP) Pervez Khattak, Imran Khan said: "PM was openly threatening NAB if it was going to do some good work." Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly had appointed Chairman NAB Qamar Zaman Chaudhry with consensus, he said. "I have been the opponent of the appointment through this procedure because it is a conflict of interest as both parties are facing corruption cases in the bureau," he said, adding but hurdles should not be created in the way of NAB if now it was going to perform some accountability work.

However, PTI chief defended his party-led KP government and said that neither accountability process would affect through amendments made in the KP Ehtesab Commission (EC) law nor the CM KP or he ever forced the former DG of the commission to resign. He also assured that PTI was not rolling back the accountability process initiated in KP.

The controversy had started after the Director General (DG) of KP Ehtesab Commission Lt General (Retd) Hamid Khan resigned earlier this month in protest against promulgation of an ordinance by KP government that drastically amended the KP Ehtesab Commission Act, 2015.

Over this move, PTI cam under fire from certain quarters and its political opponents alike and the critics argued that the party itself has seriously damaged the cause of accountability by weakening anti-corruption.

Stating that corruption of Rs8 billion is committed daily in Pakistan, Imran Khan during his press conference said that KP government through these amendments only made a balance of powers between the DG and the Ehtesab commissioners. Imran Khan announced to form a parliamentary committee to review these amendments before getting their approval from the provincial assembly. "I my self will head the committee, we will invite eminent jurists in it and review all the amendments," Imran Khan said, adding the committee would revoke all those amendments that would be hurdles in the way of accountability process.

Chairman Imran Khan said that DG Ehtesab Commission never wrote in his resignation that he was forced to resign. He also made it clear that Ehtesab Commission was not probing any case against chief minister and provincial ministers. "The commission is still independent institution and if there is an inquiry in this connection, it should be made public," he said.

Giving the reasons of DG Ehtesab Commission's resignation, Imran Khan said these include the controversy over the powers of commissioners and the DG and the interference of NAB in provincial matters. The DG wanted that provincial anti-corruption department should be under EC. But he skipped the fourth reason that former DG wrote in his resignation letter. "The government has issued amendments to the act resulting in the dilution of powers of the DG. In fact these amendments to the act have made the post of DG redundant, made the accountability process and the autonomy of the commission controversial and hereby questionable," former DG said in the letter.

Responding questions, PTI chief said that DG never said in his resignation that he was going to arrest some accused. "We only adjusted the powers between commissioners and DG and not weaken the office of later," he said.

Imran Khan diverted a question towards KP CM that alleged corruption by Pervez Khattak in different mining projects paved the way for bringing amendments in the law. Khattak urged the media to refrain from creating what he said 'misunderstanding', but concluded by saying that he was always available for accountability to prove his innocence.

‘FIR AGAINST PATHANKOT WEAKENS PAKISTANI GOVT’: Staff Reporter from Lahore adds: PTI leader Ijaz Chaudhary has termed the registration of FIR against Pathankot incident in Gujranwala an act of cowardice and weakness on part of the government.

“India is involved in sponsoring terrorism on Pakistani soil and it has accused certain people in Pakistan for masterminding the Pathankot incident without proof. In the light of these facts, registering FIR against the incident in Gujranwala is tantamount providing an opportunity to New Delhi for gaining propaganda,” stated the former president of PTI’s Punjab chapter while talking in a party meeting relating to intra-party polls.

He demanded the Rangers should be engaged in Punjab to deal with the issue of resurgence of banned outfits declared terrorist and their sleeper cells. “The provincial government lacks the capacity to deal with the threat of banned outfits and Rangers should be engaged on the pattern of Karachi for special anti-terror operations,” Mr Chaudhary added.