New accountability law plans suffer setback
October 12 2017 08:45 PM
Zahid Hamid: upset at parties’ stance

Internews Islamabad

A new accountability law that aimed to crack down on corruption was ‘sabotaged’ by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) yesterday. Both parties rejected the nearly complete draft of the law they had so far been helping to develop.
Both parties frustrated the nearly year-long process of drafting legislation during the 13th meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Accountability Laws, which had almost reached an agreement on bringing judges and generals into the ambit of accountability laws if they had committed any sort of corruption.
Before yesterday’s meeting, all parliamentary parties had agreed to proposals to ensure across-the-board accountability, which would bring judges and generals within the purview of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
However, at the last minute, both the PTI and MQM did a U-turn, shattering the consensus built around the nearly-finalised bill.
MQM members rejected the draft bill outright, while PTI’s Dr Shireen Mazari was of the view that her party would come up with its own recommendations for across-the-board accountability.
Law Minister Zahid Hamid, who chaired the committee meeting, made no secret of his displeasure over the parties’ stance. He wondered why the PTI and MQM had voiced their reservations now after being silent on the issue in previous 12 meetings.
“Until now, every proposal of the bill was approved through consensus. I don’t know what suddenly happened to the PTI and MQM today,” he said after an in-camera meeting that lasted only 20 minutes.
At the committee’s last meeting, it was decided that representatives of all parties would consult their respective heads and would apprise the committee about their party line on the draft bill in the meeting that was to be held yesterday.
He said that PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi and an MQM representative had been present at all 12 previous meetings of the committee, but had shown no concerns over the draft bill. “The process has been spoiled after almost 90% of the bill had been approved through consensus,” he said.
Earlier, Dr Mazari who replaced Qureshi on the committee informed the parliamentary body that her party had six to seven objections to the bill. “We do not accept the government’s bill,” she added.
Dr Mazari said the PTI would forward its reservations to the committee in writing, adding that the current draft seemed to be aimed at covering up the corruption of politicians.
Sources privy to the drafting process said the government wanted to have the bill consensually approved by the committee and both houses of parliament.

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