The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is all set to put the National Accountability Bill 2012 to vote in the National Assembly session starting today (Monday).
The opposition, however, is still waiting for the government to fulfil its promise of sharing a report of the Standing Committee on Law and Justice tasked with working on the new bill.
“At the last meeting of [the committee], the government had made a commitment that it would share the final report prior to introducing the bill in the house; however, this has not happened to date,” Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Anusha Rehman told The Express Tribune on Sunday.
According to sources, the government has put the controversial bill, which invited the opposition’s ire, on the agenda for the 48th session of the National Assembly.
On October 8, the government had introduced the new bill to repeal former military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s National Accountability Ordinance 1999. The new bill was introduced in place of the Holders of Public Office (Accountability) Act, 2009, a piece of legislation on which the standing committee had deliberated for over three years but which it had been unable to evolve a consensus on.
The new accountability bill places a bar on reopening graft cases older than 10 years, and adds that a person shall not be appointed as chairman of the proposed accountability commission unless he has been a judge of the Supreme Court or a BPS-22 officer.
The PML-N had strongly opposed both the provisions and asked other parties in the opposition and ruling coalition to reject the legislation. It insisted that the chairman of the proposed commission should only be a judge of the apex court.
Responding to a question, Rehman said that her party was concerned that its dissenting notes over the controversial clauses of the bill would not be included in the committee report. “It appears there is dissent even within the ruling PPP over several controversial clauses of the bill,” she added.
About the PML-N’s strategy if the government did not honour its word, she said her party would protest at every forum and would make sure that its dissenting notes are included in the committee report.
Earlier, on November 19, when the government tabled a bill to validate the orders of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, the report of the standing committee claimed that it had unanimously approved the bill.
However, when Rehman and Saira Afzal Tarar from the PML-N pointed out that they had opposed the bill, the committee’s chairperson, Begum Naseem Akhtar Chaudhry, clarified that “it was a clerical mistake”.
In addition to the accountability bill, the government is likely to table over a dozen bills in the session including the Defence Housing Authority Bill, which has been pending for over a year.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2012.