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ISLAMABAD: Unfazed by opposition's criticism in the backdrop of a recent judgement of Supreme Court that is highly critical of National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the federal government in the Upper House of the Parliament on Wednesday, reiterated to pursue 'blanket accountability' regardless of the repercussions.

"The people of Pakistan elected Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) into power for fair and blanket accountability of corrupt elements and we are pursuing this mission vigorously," Leader of the House in Senate Dr Shahzad Waseem said while speaking on the floor of the House at the Senate session.

He was responding to allegations levelled by certain opposition lawmakers suggesting a 'nexus' between the federal government and NAB in the light of Supreme Court's judgement regarding NAB in Paragon housing corruption case issued on Monday.

"Certain lacunae in NAB's laws, as pointed out in the Supreme Court judgement, have also affected the PTI government. How? Because we are asked why after the Supreme Court's landmark judgement on Panama leaks scandal-and then there are Avenfield Apartments, fake Qatari letter and all that-why after all that- Mr Nawaz Sharif is seen comfortably roaming around-on the streets of London? These are the questions we are asked," Shahzad Waseem said.

He said the incumbent chairman NAB was appointed following consensus between the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and 90 per cent cases in NAB were filed during the respective terms of the previous governments. "They (PML-N and PPP) did not make even a slightest amendment in the NAB Ordinance, not even a full stop or comma. The National Accountability Commission was formed by Nawaz Sharif government in 1997 primarily to target Benazir Bhutto. It became NAB in Musharraf's era but no one changed anything in NAB Ordinance. It is the PTI government that has tried to bring amendments in NAB Ordinance," he said. The leader of the House in Senate said not only the opposition members but the PTI lawmakers also, including some ministers also faced NAB inquiries. "We also felt the heat of NAB's actions and we don't have any issues with it," he said.

On Supreme Court's judgement in Paragon housing corruption case, he said "If you (opposition) appreciate this judgement then let's not adopt a pick and choose approach. You better also appreciate the Supreme Court's historic judgement in Panama leaks case in which there was a mention of the famous novel The Godfather and a mafia family-but you don't like it." Waseem said that Supreme Court has clarified at the end of its judgement on Paragon housing corruption case that the observations shared in the judgement are tentative in nature that will not have any legal effect on the outcome of the case.

Earlier on Monday, Supreme Court's Justice Maqbool Baqir in the 87-page detailed verdict in the Paragon City Private Limited case wrote, "The present case is a classic example of trampling of fundamental rights, unlawful deprivation of freedom, and liberty and the complete disregard for human dignity as guaranteed by the Constitution."

Speaking on the floor of the House in Senate on Wednesday, PPP leader and former chairman Senate Raza Rabbani demanded the formation of a parliamentary committee regarding review NAB's actions keeping in view the Supreme Court's judgement. The committee should representation of all parties from both the houses of Parliament. "Even if a political party has one-member representation in the Parliament, it should also be part of the committee. This committee should be formed in the joint session of the Parliament and it should be given timeframe to complete its working."

Addressing Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani, Rabbani said "If, on this occasion, Parliament fails to play a historic role, then, this Parliament, whom you and I are part of, would be guilty in the course of history."

Mushahidullah Khan from PML-N demanded a fair and speedy inquiry into allegations that Pakistan Television (PTV), deliberately showed Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) as part of India in its map, allegedly with the direct involvement of PTV's serious management.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said the master plan of Islamabad was being revised, which, he said, would be done soon.

Responding to various supplementary questions during Question Hour, the minister said the existing plan was made during Ayub Khan's regime and after that no change was made in it.

To encourage Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), letters are being sent to Pakistani diplomatic missions abroad to invite potential expatriate Pakistan investors and other foreign investors, he added.

He said the Project Cycle (PC)-I for acquisition of land for Gwadar rail connectivity was under process.

The Senate would meet again on Friday.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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