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ISLAMABAD: Amid protests by opposition parties, the National Assembly, on Friday, passed a resolution to extend the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021, for a period of 120 days with effect from June 9. The State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Muhammad Khan, tabled the resolution. The opposition MPs strongly protested, saying there is no need to give 120-day extension to the ordinance.

They also pointed out the quorum, but the House passed the resolution after a brief suspension of 10 minutes as the quorum was completed. The PTI government had issued the unprecedented two-liner ordinance to reappoint prosecutor general NAB Syed Asghar Haider for an indefinite period, drawing criticism from the opposition, terming it person specific.

The ordinance was promulgated on February 9, 2021 and its gazette notification was made public on Feb 15, 2021.

Haider, a former judge of the Lahore High Court (LHC), was appointed NAB prosecutor general in January 2018 for three years.

He was removed from LHC office for taking oath under the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO), promulgated by the then military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf on November 3, 2007.

The existing NAB law clearly bars an extension in tenure of prosecutor general.

Section 8(a)(iii) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) says that “the prosecutor general accountability shall hold office for a [non-extendable] period of three years.”

However, President Arif Alvi, through an ordinance, amended the said provision as “the prosecutor general accountability shall hold office for a period of three years and shall be eligible for reappointment for a similar term or terms.”

The ordinance was supposed to lapse on June 8, 2021.

Soon after the ordinance was promulgated, the Law Ministry had notified extension in the prosecutor general’s term.

The NA speaker referred a calling attention notice regarding non-grant of compensation to farmers of drought-affected areas of Tehsil Mankera, Noorpur and Thal of District Bhakkar and Khushab to the standing committee for further consideration.

During question hour, the Parliamentary Secretary for Interior, Shaukat Ali, said that across the board transparent inquiries are being carried out against the people involved in malpractices.

He said that Azad Jammu and Housing Cooperative Housing Society was a private society and corruption of billions of rupees was detected in these projects, adding, the case has been sent to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for a thorough probe into its affairs.

“The inquiry was under active process and misappropriated amount would be ascertained on finalisation of inquiries which was expected to be completed in next two weeks,” he added. The House was prorogued sine die.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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