Differences between the PPP and PML-N appear to be widening over the proposed accountability law. “We will strongly resist the proposed accountability law in its existing form and will not allow it to be passed by parliament unless it is suitably modified,” Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said at a press conference here on Friday. He said that the adoption of 18th Amendment had given a hope to the people and it should have been followed by legislation for good governance and assurance of complete adherence to the rule of law and the Constitution. But, he regretted that two recent actions of the government did not augur well for the country and the people. Referring to the remission in sentences of prisoners, he alleged that the law had been misused to favour a personal friend of the president in the first instance in the name of 18th amendment bill. He said the second negative message had been sent by the bulldozing of the Public Office Holders (Accountability) Bill in the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice, while ignoring key amendments proposed by the PML-N, to benefit the person sitting at the top. He expressed serious reservations over deletion of a clause about requesting foreign states to freeze and forfeit assets relevant to any investigation in Pakistan. The clause was there in the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, and it was under this clause of foreign cooperation and mutual legal assistance that a money laundering case against President Asif Ali Zardari had been initiated in a Swiss Court – a request that was withdrawn through a controversial letter written to the Swiss authorities by the then Attorney General Malik Muhammad Qayyum. Chaudhry Nisar was of the view that the vague and open-ended ‘good faith’ clause incorporated in the proposed Holders of Public Offices (Amendment) Bill, 2009, would render the entire law meaningless.
He said the indemnity clause read: “No proceeding under this Act shall lie against the holder of a public office for anything which has been done in good faith or in pursuance of or in exercise of powers vested in him or believed to be vested in him, or intended to be done at the material time by virtue of that office”. The PML-N leader said that certain clauses of the proposed bill had made it weak and controversial. He said the PML-N had submitted 58 amendments to the bill, most of which had been incorporated in it. Pointing out some of them, he said according to the original draft the law was not supposed to have retrospective effect, but the PML-N wanted it to cover the entire period since 1947. Now it will take care of cases of corruption since 1985. He said that according to the original draft, the army and judiciary were out of the ambit of the law, but it was not so now. The PML-N leader said that certain provisions in the proposed law were tantamount to institutionalising loot and plunder. He said the PML-N, in cooperation with other political parties, would block the passage of the bill in its present form.
By: Dawn News