LAHORE/ISLAMABAD - The amendment made to the NAB law through a presidential ordinance will help “hundreds” of accused facing charges of possessing assets beyond means or misuse of powers, go unpunished, informed NAB sources said on Saturday.

On the other hand, opposition parties launched a barrage of criticism against the government over the amendment in the NAB law, claiming that it was an attempt to protect its cronies.

The sources in the NAB said although the anti-graft body can’t do anything against the government’s fresh move and will have to go by the new legislation, the ordinance will certainly seriously affect the NAB’s performance.

Elaborating the point, the sources said there are people with assets of multi-billions of rupees, but when their landed properties will be reassessed on DC rates or the FBR rates (which are far below the market value) it will be very difficult for the NAB to prove such people corrupt or possessing sources beyond means.

The new law will also make it difficult for the NAB to perform its functions. For example, until now the NAB used to ask a person under inquiry to prove how he/she had made assets. But after the amendment to the law, the sources said, now it would be for the NAB to establish that the assets were illegal.

If the NAB could not do this, the accused would be benefited.

Likewise, the sources said, now it will be for the NAB to establish that a person recruited unqualified people against various posts. And in case it could not do this, the recruitments would be deemed to have been made in good faith.

The PTI government has done what the PML-N and PPP governments could not do in their respective tenures, said an official.

 

GOVT TRYING TO PROTECT ITS CRONIES: PPP

 

PPP on Saturday said that PTI government’s decision to make changes in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) was an effort to “protect its cronies.”

Senior PPP leader and Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani, while addressing a news conference, said amendments in the NAO, 1999 that governs the NAB would benefit the bureaucrats and the business community.

“Judiciary and the Army have their internal accountability mechanisms already,” he said, adding then only “political parties would be left to become victims of the black law of NAB.”

“It is a black law and people are committing suicides because of it,” the minister said. He said NAB, in the past, had victimised politicians belonging to the opposition parties, particularly his party, including PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani and senior party leader Khursheed Shah.

“The courts provided relief to these leaders after they found out that the allegations levelled against them by the anti-corruption watchdog were unfounded,” he added.

Separately, PPPP Secretary Information Dr Nafisa Shah said at a news conference that the purpose of promulgating a NAB-related ordinance was to protect the friends of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

She said such an ordinance should be discussed and agreed upon by all parties in the parliament. “The PTI government is trying to hide its incompetence by using these anti-people tactics and is trying to keep them in the dark about such advances,” she said, adding accountability’ was not inclusive at all.

Nafisa was of the view that only politicians were being targeted while the businessmen were being provided relief due to their connections with the PTI government.

She also said the effort to bring a change in NAB law was a worse scandal than that of the Panama leaks. She alleged that PM had been visiting Karachi in order to weaken the provincial government.

She further said the opposition would register its protest in the parliament against what she called the government’s ‘historic U-turns.’

 

A PLOY TO GIVE GOVT, ALLIES NRO: PML-N

 

PML-N on Saturday rejected the newly promulgated National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Amendment Ordinance 2019. Party leader Marriyam Aurangzeb in a statement said the ordinance is aimed at halting inquiries into ruling PTI’s projects. “The NAB Ordinance is a ploy to give NRO to the corrupt government and its allies,” she alleged.

The PML-N leader said former prime minister Nawaz Sharif presented himself for accountability. If the incumbent government has not been involved in any plunder of public funds, why is it bringing an ordinance to stop inquiries, she questioned.

The opposition’s Rahbar Committee also assailed the NAB Amendment Ordinance. Convener Akram Durrani said the NAB ordinance has been introduced to save Prime Minister Imran Khan and his friends. He bashed the federal government and said it has failed to provide electricity and gas to the people.

Durrani alleged that those who speak up openly, cases are lodged against them. He stressed that the opposition does not want conflict between the institutions.

Earlier, Akram Durrani chaired a session of the Rahbar Committee which was attended by PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq, PPP leaders Faisal Kareem Kundi and Humayun Khan. Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Usman Kakar, Shafiq Pasrori and Hashim Babar were also present.

 

CHAN DEFENDS ORDINANCE

 

PM’s spokesman Nadeem Afzal Chan said the government wanted reforms in the NAB by evolving consensus with opposition parties in the parliament.

Talking to a private news channel, he said the opposition parties were not showing seriousness in NAB reforms through legislation and wished to halt the accountability process against their bigwigs.

The spokesman, however, said the PTI government was determined to wipe out the menace of corruption.

 

ORD CHALLENGED

 

Yesterday also, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Amendment Ordinance 2019 was challenged in the Supreme Court.

A regular litigant Mehmood Akhtar Naqvi filed a petition at Karachi Registry of the apex court challenging the amended law.

The petitioner has made the Government of Pakistan, Secretary Ministry of Law and Justice, secretaries of Cabinet Division, Ministry of Interior, Establishment Division, Chairman NAB, Director General Headquarters NAB and others as party in the case.

The petitioner said, “All citizens are equal in the constitution of Pakistan, the amended ordinance is violation of the constitution and the fundamental rights of citizens”.