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NAB a corrupt institution: Senators

19 April, 2016

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ISLAMABAD: The opposition and treasury benches in Upper House of parliament on Monday jointly termed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) a corrupt institution which not only promotes corruption but is always used to victimize the politicians.

“In NAB, the power is concentrated with a single person, the chairman. The so-called accused cannot get bail from any court. A murderer or dacoit can get bail but a NAB accused cannot get bail from any court,” the legislators opined, as they termed it a ‘draconian’ and ‘black law’ introduced by military dictator Pervez Musharaf in 1999 to suppress his opponent Nawaz Sharif.

The discussion started as PPP Senator Saeed Ghani presented a motion to discuss performance of NAB along with recommendations for its improvement. The motion maintained that through plea bargain instrument of NAB, a person who has committed corruption of billions of rupees is given clean chit after payment of a fraction of the money embezzled. The legislators questioned about the integrity of the officials sitting in NAB and claimed that most of them were involved in corruption. They said that most of the director generals in NAB were working on extension, and the chairman himself was behind their extension.

Saeed Ghani said a bank official involved in a corruption case of Rs 18 billion in Dhaka was hired as chief financial officer in NAB. He said the NAB blames former prime ministers Yousaf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf of misuse of powers but its chairman himself is violating law by offering extension to his blue-eyed boys.

PPP leader Farooq H Naek labeled the NAB ordinance as ‘black law’, saying it was enacted by a military ruler. “Our government and even the incumbent one has failed to amend this black law,” Naek said adding, the PPP government, however, did try to amend or abolish this ordinance but in vain. He said ‘some forces’ did not let the government introduce amendments to the ordinance or abolish it altogether. Naek said under the present NAB ordinance, the bureau’s chairman enjoys numerous powers which are sometimes even misused.

PPP leader Farhatullah Baber said NAB law was used for political re-engineering. He also claimed that no sacred cows were brought under investigation by any investigative organisation.

Ruling Senator Javed Abbassi suggested that the plea bargain power of the NAB should be taken back from the chairman. He said the NAB board should be strengthened instead of its chairman.

PML-N Senator Gen (r) Qayyum suggested abolishment of the plea bargain clause of the NAB. He said the NAB ordinance should be amended as both opposition and the government were united over the issue.

MQM Senator Sheikh Atique said 140 mega corruption cases were pending since last 16 years, and questioned that why NAB could not initiate investigation in these cases.

PML-N senator Nihal Hashmi said the prime minister had already stressed the need for changing the NAB law as its officials were involved in corruption.

Baber Awan said it was decided in the charter of democracy signed between PPP and the PML-N that the NAB will be disbanded, and asked who was stopping both the parties from doing so.

Barrister Saif of the MQM said abuse and misuse of law was a serious issue. Who has allowed the NAB to misuse its powers, he questioned. He said that NAB was the continuation of Ehtisab Commission led by Saifur Rehman. “Let us face the reality, if there is corruption, there would be institutions like NAB,” he maintained.

Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid presented in the House some achievements of the NAB. He assured the House that the PM and his team had already decided to reform the NAB law. However, he suggested, the House should forward its own recommendations for amendments in the NAB law.

The Senate rejected two motions moved by JI Senator Sirajul Haq (The Constitution Amendment Bill, 2016) and a bill by MQM’s Tahir Hussain Mashhadi regarding discontinuation of free power units to WAPDA employees.

SAFRON Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch said Frontier Constabulary was established to monitor the areas between FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, later the services of FC were taken by other provinces and in some case they are even deployed in fight against terrorists. However, the minister rejected that they were not properly compensated. Last year, he said, the government allocated Rs 7.6 billion for FC. For the next year, the FC Commandant has demanded a sum of Rs 10 billion.

The Senate also took up the issue of Bol media group. Senators demanded that ban on Bol television channel should be lifted as its case was different from the Axact scandal.

Speaking in the Senate, Farhatullah Babur said by banning the Bol channel, many working journalists had become jobless. He said the Bol channel was registered according to rules and regulations and the government had also issued an NoC to it which was later withdrawn. He demanded that the ban on Bol channel should be lifted till the completion of inquiry.

Federal Minister for Information Pervaiz Rashid informed the Senate that cancellation of the licence of Bol channel was not linked with the affairs of the Axact company.

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