Minister calls for reining in anti-graft watchdog – Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: As a federal minister on Tuesday highlighted the need to control the anti-theft agency, a bill came to the Senate to amend the National Responsibility Ordinance enacted two decades ago by a military ruler.

To end a discussion in the Senate about the denial of health facilities to former President Asif Ali Zardari amid accusations of witch hunts from the opposition, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Azam Swati, said the National Office of Responsibility (NAB ) was not under government control and the Popular Party of Pakistan (PPP)) and the Pakistan-Nawaz Muslim League (PML-N) faced the cases they had framed against each other.

He, however, said it was necessary to control NAB. "What can you expect NAB to have 70-80 percent of employees carefully selected by the former president?" He asked. Swati said that Pakistan's Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) ruler had not filed these cases and that the government could not meddle in NAB affairs.

He said parliament was supreme and had the right to decide that no one would be investigated. "Let's clear prisons by releasing all prisoners or have separate laws for those who have and those who don't," he said sarcastically.

Bill that seeks to amend the liability law lands in the Senate

The issue had been raised at home by the PPP parliamentary leader in the Senate, Sherry Rehman, who demanded the immediate transfer of Zardari from prison to the hospital in view of his state of health. He regretted that the former president had been sent to jail without the advice of doctors and that his family members were not allowed to see him, despite court orders. According to doctors, Mr. Zardari's heart arteries were suffocated and he also had back pain, he said, claiming that the PPP leader was being a victim of the government and treated as a "hardened criminal."

The opposition leader in the Senate, Raja Zafarul Haq, lamented that everything that was happening to the detained politicians was painful, adding that the deal with them should be in accordance with the law and according to normal practices.

He noted that the imprisoned PML-N leader, Rana Sanaullah, was not allowed to attend his father-in-law's funeral. He said that the government's deal with the opposition was like that of India with the people of occupied Kashmir.

Former Interior Minister Rehman Malik of the PPP said a curfew seemed to have been imposed on politicians and that the next generations would be reluctant to become legislators. He said Zardari could have been under house arrest instead of being jailed. He warned the PTI government not to establish the traditions that will surely haunt him in the future and predicted that politicians belonging to the ruling party would also face each other in the coming days.

PPP senator Maula Bux Chandio said he would have conveyed a good message if all political leadership had been with the prime minister during his speech in Kashmir. "How can a former president who also runs an important political party be denied his fundamental rights?" He asked.

Senator Javed Abbasi of PML-N said none of the NROs [deal] The government had not sought the guts to give one, and added that his party was not against accountability, but it should be general. He said that anyone who joined the ruling coalition enjoyed immunity from responsibility.

Later, former Senate President Farooq H. Naek, of the PPP, introduced a bill to amend the NAB ordinance. The bill referring to the standing committee in question proposes to establish a minimum limit of Rs 500 million for cases that will be investigated by the NAB, prohibit custody investigations and remove the powers of arrest of the president of the NAB. It also proposes a plea agreement only through the court and prohibits NAB officials from making public statements about cases before submitting a referral.

Azam Swati informed the chamber that the government was also in the process of submitting its own bill to amend the NAB ordinance, but did not oppose the opposition's bill.

Other bills were also presented in the Senate, including the one that seeks to amend the Constitution to increase the number of seats for Balochistan in national and provincial assemblies.

At a point of public importance, Raza Rabbani asked the president to summon Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to explain his interview with the BBC in which he said that Pakistan was ready to hold talks with India. At a time when an orgy of death and destruction was taking place in occupied Kashmir, the curfew had entered on the 29th and more than 10,000 people had been arrested, how could the Foreign Minister make such a statement?

He also criticized the decision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to grant consular access to detained Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav at a time when people in occupied Kashmir were denied access to medicines.

The Senate will meet again at 3.30 pm on Wednesday (today).

Posted on Dawn, September 3, 2019



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