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EDITORIAL: The manner in which the government has gone about amending the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) vividly lays bare the sheer ineptitude of the executive branch. The second amendment in its wake created a situation whereby all existing proceedings against bureaucrats and others had come to halt, necessitating a further amendment by way of a third attempt to rectify the unintended consequence. While doing so the government arrogated the power of removal of chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to the President, earning a prompt accusation of NAB being used for political engineering. The latest amendment to the NAO also mandates that all proceedings, including inquiries, investigations, references or trials under the ordinance prior to October 6 (when the second amendment was enforced) in relation to an offence under the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010, will be dealt with in accordance with the ordinance. That means the immunity enjoyed by the top opposition leaders and others since the promulgation of second amendment was only short-lived. Naturally, the opposition leaders have strongly reacted to the promulgation of third amendment ordinance. Empowering the president, instead of Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), to remove the NAB chairman smacks of mala fide, says PPP secretary-general Farhatullah Babar. But then there is mystery to his statement as he says while the NAB levers have been used for political engineering "it's possible that the engineers might have concluded that it's time to unleash NAB against Imran and Imran is trying to preempt it". Some others in the opposition believe the new ordinance is expected to save the corrupt in the ranks of the present government. Be that as it may, it is increasingly clear that the entire accountability process is now bereft of required jurisdictional sanctity. The attorney general for Pakistan is believed to have been not on board with the ordinances amending the NAB law and has advised the prime minister that it should be legislated through the parliament. His is a sagacious advice, which must be heeded in order to end this considerable controversy.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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