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The law of NAB requires serious reforms : Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi

Lahore : Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi Thursday said the law of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) required serious reforms as it had been promulgated by a dictator to counter the politicians and meet his designs.

Ahad Cheema was a competent officer who had served efficiently in the government sector, even more than those in the private sector , before arresting him, NAB should have framed charges and held prior investigation. He criticized Cheema’s arrest from the office and releasing his photo standing behind the bars, with a gunman standing outside.

In an interview with a private television channel, the prime minister said a multi party committee had taken up the task to review the law and had also evolved a consensus over a draft. However, later, the exercise was politicized after Panama issue surfaced making it difficult to implement such amended law in prevailing circumstance.

He said though there must be a process for accountability but it must be within the purview of the law and the Constitution.

To a question, the prime minister said the present government would present annual budget by mid-May as the interim government had neither mandate to present the budget nor it would have such an experience. The next government could review it in accordance with its priorities, he added.

He reiterated that all the institutions must respect one another’s domains and quoted media reports that parliamentarians were even labeled as drug smugglers by the courts.

The prime minister said executive was almost paralysed today as the officers were not willing to work. The easiest way for a government functionary was to do no work, else they would have to face either court or NAB, he remarked.

He said it was executive’s responsibility to manage the government affairs and if any decision proved wrong, it must not be made a criminal liability.

He said it was only the politicians who go through accountability, not only after five years, rather daily, as they go to the masses.

Prime Minister Abbasi again called for dialogue among the institutions to create an understanding on each other’s functions. To a question, he also expressed his willingness to interact with the judiciary for such a dialogue saying that it was a practice in other countries too.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said NAB had been hearing cases of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz twice or thrice a week, and questioned whether any other case was also being heard in such a haste.

Talking about the arrest of former Director General Lahore Development Authority Ahad Cheema, he said he was a competent officer who had served efficiently in the government sector, even more than those in the private sector.

He said before arresting him, NAB should have framed charges and held prior investigation. He criticized Cheema’s arrest from the office and releasing his photo standing behind the bars, with a gunman standing outside.

To question about the cases of Dr Asim and Sharjeel Memon, the prime minister said Dr Asim had been facing Rs 450 billion corruption case, but during previous 19 months, only the frivolous charges could be framed which might be quashed within a single hearing.

He proposed that NAB should first write to the chief secretary of the province concerned to hold a a prima facie inquiry against the accused officer.

He said some of the courts’ decisions in the past brought about the liabilities worth billions of dollars for the country.

To a question about the cabinet members’ comments against the judiciary, the prime minister said had the court barred public comments on court proceedings in media, the situation could have been averted.

He said usually the judges give remarks for sake of explanation, which were reported out of context.

Regarding Supreme Court’s decision disqualifying Nawaz Sharif to head the party, he said this must be left up to the people to decide as who should head their party. In the past too, the people had elected their candidates who were imprisoned at the time of their election.

To a question, the prime minister said Dawn Leaks was a non-issue however there was no strain in government-military ties.

He said if the PML-N gets majority in the next general election, Shahbaz Sharif would be his candidate for the premiership, but if the party selects Maryam Nawaz, everyone would abide by the decision.

Prime Minister Abbasi urged media to debate horse trading and reiterated to name and shame those who would reach Senate without having any support of any party, or any provincial assembly member.

He hoped that the laws would be amended to hold the Senate elections through proportional representation in the National Assembly.

To a question about the Financial Action Task Force’s decision on Pakistan, the prime minister said things were reported out of context. It does not happen by committing any crime, rather it was an administrative issue.

The government would manage the situation through the measures required by the UN.

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