National Assembly extends NAB protest ordinance

ISLAMABAD: The newly modified National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Ordinance-1999 was extended for another 120 days, in the midst of a strong opposition over an invalid quorum.

The opposition claimed the passage of a resolution to extend the NAB Ordinance by NA President Asad Qaiser despite the absence of a quorum which had meant to suspend the entire business in the lower House of Parliament.

The question of certain private housing societies was also debated, while legislators said that there was nothing to do with Jammu Kashmir Employees Housing Society, Senate Employees Housing Society or Higher Court Employee Housing Sociedad whose names were used to start these societies.

The Punjab government had not restored local institutions for the past two years, according to Ahsan Iqbal, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in spite of the orders of the Supreme Court. The court requested that the Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar be brought against Punjab because he has violated its orders.

Shagufta Jumany, a member of the Pakistan People’s Party, told the Senate Housing Society that when she came to parliament and many of their colleagues in 2002, the hard-earning cash of many parliamentarians had remained stuck, and the fate of society is still on the balances, apart from a few who have received their investment repaid.

The interior secretary told Iqbal Ahmed that NAB was investigating the matter when MNA complained of a massive fraud in the Jammu and Kashmir Housing Society. The official said that during its tenure, the Pakistani government, Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had issued no No Objection Certification (NOC).

PML N legislator Shaikh Fayyazuddin noted a quorum earlier at the beginning of the session because the attendance of the members was slim. The Chairman then counted the members in the House. As the quorum was found to be incomplete, the proceedings of the House were suspended until the quorum was finalized. After some time, however, the meeting resumed. The Speaker has for the sixth time committed a violation of this Constitution, PML-N legislator Murtaza Javed Abbasi, also serving as the deputy speaker in the latter regime of PML-N.

The Chairman of the PP, Sikandar Rahpoto drew attention to a lack of quorum, when the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammed Khan presented a resolution to extend the NAB Ordinance. But the Chair allowed the resolution, which was strongly objected to by the opposition, to be passed.

“No Speaker in parliamentary history has ever done this,” he added.

Only after the resolution was passed was the Speaker re-appointed and the House was extended indefinitely once the quorum was re-established. Leader of all major political parties have called for an amendment of the National Accountability Ordinance to reduce what they call ‘the sweeping powers’ of the anti-graft watchdog.

In February, President Dr Arif Alvi enacted the NAB’s Attorney General (accountability) Ordinance, considering that no reference can be filed after NAB President without PG approval. The decree not only reappointed Syed Asghar Haider for another term of three years as Attorney General, but also removed the bar for another similar period. On 28 January, the term of Mr. Haider expired.

Zainab Murtaza

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