The PML-N has decided to give the government a tough time over the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ordinance that can allow the chairman to enjoy another four-year term. However, the party still stands divided over how it will challenge the government.

PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah said the party has decided to protest against the NAB ordinance but it is divided on how to challenge it.

President Arif Alvi on Wednesday promulgated the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021, under which NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal will continue to serve the post until a new chairman is appointed.

The new NAB chairman will be appointed for a period of four years and his term may be extended, as per the amended ordinance.

The former Punjab law minister said the party will also try to ensure the Opposition remains on the same page over the ordinance. “We will try that the Opposition stands united for this protest,” he added.

He rejected speculation that the party had raised objections internally over PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz’s recent statements.

The government had earlier decided to give an extension to NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal and a draft ordinance has been prepared by its legal minds.

Sources had said Prime Minister Imran Khan approved the presidential ordinance.

A meeting was chaired to discuss the ordinance, which was drafted in consultation with federal ministers.

Law Minister Dr Farogh Nasim, Adviser to the PM on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan and Adviser on Interior and Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar suggested a few changes in the law.

According to sources privy to the matter, more than one amendment had been proposed.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan had refused to consult the leader of the Opposition over the appointment of the NAB chairman post.

Earlier, the federal Cabinet had approved the NAB ordinance about the extension in the tenure of NAB Chairperson Justice (retired) Javed Iqbal.

Sources said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken a stand and is saying that he would not consult the leader of the Opposition over the anti-corruption watchdog’s appointment.

According to sources, the premier had made it clear to Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry and Law Minister Farogh Naseem that he will not consult the leader of the Opposition or members of the Opposition.

Addressing a press conference following a cabinet meeting, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry had said an ordinance was being brought on Wednesday to do away with a legal lacuna concerning consultation on the new NAB chairman’s appointment, in case the leader of the House or Opposition faces NAB cases.

The NAB law says that “there shall be a Chairman NAB to be appointed by the president in consultation with the [Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly] for a [non-extendable] period of [four] years on such terms and conditions as may be determined by the president and shall not be removed except on the grounds of removal of judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.”

This means that unlike what ministers say in public, the leader of the Opposition will be consulted in the appointment of a new chairman or for a second-term appointment of the incumbent NAB chief. In case the prime minister and the leader of the Opposition do not agree on any name, the case will be referred to a parliamentary committee that will have equal representation of members from the treasury and Opposition benches.

The ordinance will also clear the vagueness surrounding the forum that will have the power to remove the NAB chairman. It has been decided that the Supreme Judicial Council will be the forum that will consider any case or reference about the misconduct of the NAB chairman.

 

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