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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has decided to extend the tenure of the incumbent National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman former Justice Javed Iqbal till a new successor is appointed.

For this purpose, a summary has been referred to President Dr Arif Alvi for promulgation of an ordinance for extending the tenure of the NAB chief.

The president today (Wednesday) may promulgate an ordinance to extend the tenure of the incumbent the NAB chief. Justice Iqbal was appointed chairman NAB on October 8, 2017, following a consensus between the then PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Leader of the Opposition Syed Khursheed Shah.

It must be noted that the incumbent chairman NAB, is completing his four-year term on October 8 with no sign of the initiation of a process of consultation between the prime minister and the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly to pick his successor.

According to the sources, Prime Minister Imran Khan accepted the suggestion put forward by Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Kahlid Jawed Khan regarding amendments in the National Accountability Ordinance 1999.

NAB chief one step away from tenure extension?

Under Section 6 (b) of NAB Ordinance reads: “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 a judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.”

It has been decided that a new NAB chairperson will be appointed with the consultation of Shehbaz Sharif, the opposition leader in the National Assembly.

The sources said that PM has approved the presidential ordinance and it is expected to be promulgated today (Wednesday).

They said that the draft of the ordinance was discussed in a meeting chaired by the prime minister.

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 changes in the law.

The sources said that amendments were proposed in the NAB law 1999.

Now a summary of the draft of ordinance will be forwarded to President Alvi for further process.

The NAB and its chairman

Addressing a press conference after the Cabinet meeting, Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry confirmed the government has finalised the draft for the NAB chairman’s appointment. He said that an ordinance regarding amendments in the NAB Law will be promulgated on Wednesday.

The PPP has decided to strongly oppose the extension of the NAB chairman through an ordinance. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had said that his party would “forcefully oppose” the “illegal extension” in the tenure of the NAB chief.

Bilawal maintained that the law specifies that the tenure may not be extended.

He added that even if an extension was attempted for the incumbent NAB chairperson, it would prove his party’s position that the NAB is “an extension” of the PTI government and “not impartial”. PPP leader Sherry Rehman, on Tuesday, said that her party would strongly opposed the extension of the bureau chairman’s tenure through an ordinance. She said in a statement that the extension of the NAB chairman’s tenure is unconstitutional and illegal.

She said that the PPP has serious reservations on giving 120 days’ extension to the NAB Chairman through ordinance. She said that according to the NAB Ordinance 1999, the tenure of the chairman NAB could not be extended.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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