ISLAMABAD: Amid conflicting claims, the two major opposition parties – the PPP and PTI – continue to blame each other for the lack of mutual consultation on the appointment of the chief of the country’s anti-corruption watchdog, which is to be made by October 10.
In response to the Pakistan Peoples Party’s claim that it has consulted all opposition groups and contacted the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf thrice, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Vice Chairman of Imran Khan’s party, said on Wednesday that opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah had not consulted the PTI even once.
Moreover, the PTI was quick to reject all six names – three each proposed by the prime minister and the leader of opposition in the National Assembly – being discussed for the slot, alleging that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and PPP had once again struck an ‘underhand deal’ on the appointment of the new chairperson of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Incumbent NAB chief Qamar Zaman Chaudhry will retire on October 10 after the completion of his four-year term. Khursheed Shah hopes that the name of the new chairman would be finalised by the weekend.
According to the law, amended in 2016, once the prime minister and the opposition leader successfully conclude their consultation, the PM would forward three names to a 12-member parliamentary committee to be constituted by the National Assembly speaker with equal representation from the treasury and opposition benches, for selection of one of them. However, in case of disagreement between the leaders of the house and the opposition all six names would be forwarded to the committee.
On Tuesday, the opposition leader and the PM had exchanged their proposed names for the slot.
The government has suggested the names of Justice (retd) Rehmat Jafri, Justice (retd) Ijaz Chaudhry and Intelligence Bureau Director General Aftab Sultan, while the opposition leader has proposed the names of Justice (retd) Faqeer Muhammad Khokhar, Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal and the Election Commission of Pakistan’s former secretary Ishtiaque Ahmad.
“I am the parliamentary leader of the PTI in the National Assembly. Khursheed Shah did not contact me – not even once – in this regard,” Shah Mehmood Qureshi claimed.
Qureshi said the PPP and PML-N had once again revived the politics of ‘muk-muka’ (compromises) to appoint a person of their choice to the important post. “The new NAB chairman will be part-II of incumbent chairman,” he said.
The claim was contradictory to Khursheed Shah’s assertion that despite repeated calls the PTI and Muttahida Qaumi Movement had not shown interest in the matter and had proposed no name. He added that the Jamaat-e-Islami had proposed one name that had been added to the list of the opposition’s nominees.
NAB Reforms Bill
In a related development, the PTI announced the formation of a 12-member committee to finalise recommendations about the NAB Reforms Bill that is pending with the Parliamentary Committee on National Accountability Law.
A meeting of the parliamentary committee was held on Wednesday and it decided to provide the draft to all the parliamentary parties for their input. Disagreement still exists in the parliamentary committee on the formation of a National Accountability Commission and expanding the scope of accountability to judges and military generals.
To finalise its recommendations in accordance with the directive of the parliamentary panel, the PTI constituted its committee comprising Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Jehangir Khan Tareen, Azam Swati, Shireen Mazari, Arif Alvi, Asad Umar, Ishaq Khan Khakwani, Babar Awan, Fawad Chaudhry, Shafqat Mehmood, Sheharyar Afridi and Murad Saeed. A four-member legal team will assist the committee.
The first meeting of the committee will be held on October 9 and it will forward its report to the party chairman for approval.