PM to decide on NAB chief next week

AGP has sent a draft of amendments to the NAO to premier’s office


Hasnaat Maik September 25, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

Prime Minister Imran Khan will hold a crucial meeting next week on the appointment of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman.

Sources told The Express Tribune that the government’s legal minds would present their suggestions as to whether appointing a new anti-graft body chief or extending the tenure of the incumbent one.

They added that the attorney general for Pakistan’s (AGP) office has sent a draft of various amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) to PM’s Office. However, details on these amendments are yet to be disclosed.

It is learnt the AGP office’s draft regarding the amendments to the NAO would also be discussed and the participants would give their point of view on the matter during the meeting.

AGP Khalid Jawed Khan has a strong view that the credibility and transparency were vital in the accountability process.

It is expected that he would support the consultation process between the prime minister and the leader of the opposition in National Assembly on the appointment of the NAB chairman.

The AGP also believes that the arrest power of the NAB chairman should be regulated in view of the apex court rulings.

Similarly, accountability courts should be authorised to grant bail to the accused.

Also read: Govt yet to decide NAB chief’s tenure

It has also been learnt that Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem will brief PM Imran on whether or not he should proceed with consulting opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif on the matter.

Under the law, consultation between the premier and the leader of the opposition in NA is mandatory but PM Imran is no longer interested to  move ahead with that.

Leaders of the ruling PTI are of the view that Shehbaz was facing serious corruption charges and references were filed against him;  therefore, he should not be consulted.

The government functionaries believe that it was a principle of natural justice that whoever was facing an inquiry should not be considered in the consultation process.

If the PM agrees for the consultation process, then it could be done through writing. Even a Supreme Court judgment also observed that best consultation would be in “writing”.

It has been learnt that ‘powerful circles' want the tenure of NAB Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal extended. Otherwise, they want former SC judge Azmat Saeed Sheikh to be appointed to the post.

However, one section within the government believes that former chief justice Nasirul Mulk's name should be considered for ensuring credibility in the accountability process.

The tenure of the incumbent NAB chairman is ending on October 7.

It is learnt that the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) is likely to take up a complaint of misconduct against the incumbent NAB chairman next week.

In the month of July, the SJC had noted that the top court had never “receded” from its suggestion of consultation with the CJP in the process of the appointment of the NAB chairman.

"It is apparent that for the appointment of the NAB chairman, consultation with the chief justice of Pakistan [CJP] is not necessary but the suggestion of the Supreme Court in paragraph 288 in the case of Khan Asfand Yar Wali (2001 judgment) seem to be holding ground as in the case of Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan (PLD 2013), the Supreme Court has not receded from the suggestion,” read a four-page order issued by the SJC led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, which was hearing the complaint of misconduct against the incumbent NAB chairman.

The AGP had sought time to obtain instructions on the council’s observations. It is learnt that the government was not interested to endorse the SC suggestion to consult with CJP on the NAB chairman’s appointment.

Political analysts also believe that the role of the security establishment would be significant in the appointment or extension of the NAB chairman.

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