Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif has categorically rejected the new draft accountability bill recently proposed by the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
Nawaz warned that if the bill was passed by the PPP without evolving a consensus the PML-N would reverse it after coming to power in the next parliamentary elections, sources quoted Nawaz as saying.
Senator Ishaq Dar handed the draft of the bill to Nawaz at Murree on Thursday.
According to sources, after consultation with other senior PML-N leaders, the party chief authorised Dar to carry the aforementioned message to the PPP.
They said PPP’s proposed draft was rejected earlier during PML-N’s September 3 meeting, after Dar briefed participants about it and informed them that the former wanted to meet PML-N leaders before tabling the bill in the National Assembly.
Subsequently, Dar, along with PML-N parliamentarian Khawaja Asif, met a PPP delegation comprising Syed Khurshid Shah, Naveed Qamar and Farooq H Naek on September 6 and informed them that PML-N was unwilling to support the proposed bill.
They did, however, suggest minor amendments to the bill, the sources added.
According to sources, Nawaz termed PPP’s proposal an ‘embarrassment in the name of accountability’ and asked for the introduction of a tougher accountability bill.
He maintained that PML-N would not endorse it until the 58 amendments, which the opposition party submitted to the committee drafting the bill, were incorporated.
The sources added that the PML-N chief had been informed by the party’s members in the aforementioned committee that the committee chairman had accepted their amendments twice, but did not incorporate them in the bill following President Asif Zardari’s directives.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had earlier called PPP’s National Accountability Commission (NAC) Bill 2010 ‘weak’ and vowed that PML-N would never accept it.
The bill was first introduced in the NA under the title ‘The Holder of Public Office Accountability Bill 2009’.
It was forwarded to the NA committee on law and justice in April 2009. While the committee approved it in 2009, PML-N displayed fierce resistance against on a number of occasions.
According to party officials, PML-N had abandoned talks with the PPP over the draft for the past one year.
They said that PML-N relented recently and met a PPP delegation only on the latter’s request, adding, however, that the meeting remained pointless.
Meanwhile, a PML-N spokesperson said that, instead of working retroactively on the draft, PPP should start afresh on the bill.
He added that while the ruling party had earlier accepted their demand to probe accountability cases from 1985, it had now backed out from that position as well.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2012.