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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Thursday termed the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021, as an "NRO" to cover up the government and its ministers' alleged corruption and exempt those named in Pandora Papers leaks from the NAB accountability process.

Speaking at a news conference, senior PML-N leaders including Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal, and others also condemned the amendment to shift the consultation process on appointment of the chairman NAB to the president.

According to Abbasi, there has been no official notification so far and that he had only seen some tweets by President Arif Alvi regarding the Ordinance.

"What has come through the tweets, it is evident that the government has issued an 'NRO' to exempt its ministers and advisers from the accountability process. Under this ordinance, the current chairman NAB can even serve for lifetime now," he claimed.

Pandora Papers: CM Murad says ministers who have offshore companies should step down

He lambasted the current chairman NAB former Justice Javed Iqbal, for not taking up the alleged corruption cases of the PTI government and its ministers, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan can extend his tenure to the remaining term of his government.

He added that the prime minister has stated that he would not make the necessary consultations with the opposition leader in the National Assembly on the appointment of a new NAB chairman, adding that the clause that the chairman would serve for four years has been abolished and further procedure has been left in ambiguity.

Under this ordinance, he claimed that the NAB would not have any authority to probe into the decisions taken by the federal cabinet.

"It means the NAB would not be able to do anything against those involved in looting of Rs800 billion in sugar scam," he maintained.

Similarly, he added that the NAB would also not be able to go after those involved in the alleged corruption in wheat, adding that the accountability body now cannot ask the Punjab government and its chief minister for giving subsidy on wheat without any summary. He claimed that billions of rupees were made in the alleged medicines scam and the NAB now cannot hold any investigation against those involved.

Pandora Papers: Khaqan demands govt put 700 people behind bars

He further said that the NAB would also not be able to question the government for allegedly purchasing the most expensive LNG and to go after those involved in the fuel crisis.

"In fact, the NAB now cannot go after the government ministers for their plunders and no question can be raised against those who changed the government policies for their personal benefits," he said, adding that the government cannot be questioned for appointing corrupts in the institutions.

"This is the objective of this 'NRO-Ordinanc'. It is also very strange that the NAB would not have the authority to question those involved in the tax theft and concealment," he claimed, adding that the NAB would now not be authorised to question those 700 Pakistanis including five ministers/advisers named in the Pandora Papers.

He alleged that the entire matter was based on "mala fide" intention, adding that if the government wanted to legislate there was no need of promulgation of the ordinance and it would have brought it in the parliament.

Furthermore, Abbasi said that another "horrible" attempt has been made through this ordinance allegedly to curb independence of the judiciary, as the authority of appointment and transfer of a judge has now been shifted to the government, "which is an attempt to appoint blue-eyed judges for getting the desired decisions."

To a question, he said that the opposition is making consultations and they would approach every legal forum against this ordinance. Khawaja Asif, in his remarks, said that the Transparency International in its recent report has stated that corruption has increased in Pakistan in the last three years.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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