Imran pledges no retreat on NAB law amendments - GulfToday

Imran pledges no retreat on NAB law amendments


Imran khan. File

Tariq Butt

Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed not to retreat or succumb to any pressure over the issue of the newly promulgated National Accountability (second amendment) Ordinance 2019 and said that the changes - which benefit legislators, bureaucrats and the business community - were made keeping in view the opposition’s longstanding demand.

He said that following the promulgation of the ordinance, the stock market went up rapidly.

He said his government had decided to give full benefit of the ordinance to the business community.

The prime minister stated this while presiding over a meeting of the media strategic committee comprising Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, Minister for Communication Murad Saeed, Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood, Senator Faisal Javed, National Security Adviser Moeed Yousuf and PM’s legal aide Dr Babar Awan.

Shafqat Mehmood later said the government needed the opposition’s support to get the ordinance passed by the two houses of parliament, especially the Senate where the opposition is in a majority.

A participant said the prime minister said he would not surrender or retreat on the issue of the new ordinance and defend it at any forum.

He stressed the need for a consensus between the treasury and opposition benches on the matter.

Imran Khan was of the view that the government had made history by amending the controversial NAB law through presidential ordinance which was promulgated by President Dr Arif Alvi on Dec.26.

It has been observed that due to fear of NAB, bureaucrats have stopped signing official files and refused to take new initiatives that brought the government machinery to a standstill.

According to the source, the prime minister had in several meetings lamented the controversial NAB law as well as the bureau’s officials for creating undue harassment.

Similarly, the business community had also complained to the prime minister and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa about the NAB’s “threatening” attitude.

On the other hand, a NAB official said the anti-graft watchdog might challenge the new ordinance in a court of law.

NAB chairman Javed Iqbal said at a function that his organization did not consider faces but cases and would not come under any pressure while holding corrupt people accountable for their misdeed.

Talking about the new NAB ordinance, he said the anti-graft watchdog had already been sending tax-related cases to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for the last three months.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has called for the release of all those opposition members being detained by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for no reason after the promulgation of the new ordinance which has curtailed certain powers and limited jurisdiction of the accountability watchdog.

In a statement, PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb also asked Prime Minister Imran Khan and NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal to apologise to the nation for holding its elected representatives “hostage through illegal abductions”. The government last week promulgated the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Ordinance 2019, providing relief not only to bureaucrats and business community, but also to the politicians from across the aisle.

The two major opposition parties - the PML-N and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) - are critical of the government’s move to curtail powers of NAB, alleging that the prime minister has introduced the ordinance to save himself, his cronies and allies from facing the accountability.

Aurangzeb had stated that the ordinance had been brought to “dry-clean the PTI regime and to halt all inquiries into their mega corruption scandals in all projects”. The ordinance, she had said, was a recipe cooked by the “selected prime minister” to grant limitless NROs [amnesties] to his blue-eyed beneficiaries and his corrupt regime.

“After promulgation of this ordinance, all the innocent opposition members, including those belonging to the PML-N, should immediately be released,”

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