- Says amendment bill was passed to benefit political elite of the country
Former foreign minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Vice-chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Sunday that the government amended accountability laws to protect the "corrupt elite class", claiming that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will be "direct beneficiaries of the changes".
“The amendments made by the government to the National Accountability (NAB) Ordinance, 1999 were the ones they had once proposed to the PTI in an attempt to get the NRO,” Qureshi said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad.
The National Assembly had on May 26 approved the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill, 2021. Some of the important points are given here:
NAB deputy chairman to become acting chairman following top official’s retirement.
The process to appoint a new chairman to begin two months prior to the incumbent’s retirement and completes in 40 days.
Federal and provincial tax matters removed from NAB’s purview.
Regulatory bodies’ decisions removed from NAB’s purview.
Qureshi said that PM Shehbaz will be a direct beneficiary of the amendment made in Section-9 (A-V) which deals with corruption and corrupt practices as well as wealth beyond sources of income.
“Similarly, PML-N supremo Nawaz will also directly benefit from changes in Section-14 of the NAO, which relates to "presumption against accused accepting illegal gratification". Under this section, the suspect who was bound to furnish a money trail will no longer be required to provide the same,” he added.
PTI to challenge amendments
The senior PTI leader said that his party will move the Supreme Court to challenge the amendments to the NAB ordinance, and those related to election reforms.
“We also urge the top court to take notice of changes to the NAB law which has made the accountability watchdog dysfunctional.”
He accused the PML-N of fast-tracking these amendments to the law to benefit the political elite of the country.
Qureshi said that the amendments approved by the government were in contravention of the UN Convention against Corruption and Financial Action Task Force requirements.
He said that around "80 percent of NAB cases" will be transferred to other courts from accountability courts, saying "this is exactly what the PML-N and the PPP had been looking forward to for a long time".
The PTI leader also objected to the passage of the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2022, which seeks to remove the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in general elections as well as disallows overseas Pakistanis from voting electronically.
"Overseas Pakistanis are significant contributors to our economy, but the PPP and the PML-N believe that Pakistanis based abroad are inclined towards the PTI, hence it excluded all of them from voting right, which is injustice," he added.