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Parliamentary panel wants civil servants to also declare assets

ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on the National Accountability Law demanded on Tuesday that like politicians, annual declaration of assets should be made mandatory also for civil servants.

The committee, which met at the Parliament House here under the chairmanship of Law Minister Zahid Hamid, reviewed accountability laws of Malaysia, India and Bangladesh.

The committee also reviewed a draft anti-corruption bill presented in parliament by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in 2008.

Although it was an in-camera meeting, some of its participants shared information about the proceedings with the media.
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“The meeting wondered why senior bureaucrats do not declare their assets, though politicians are bound to declare their assets before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) every year,” a member of the committee told Dawn.

In the last meeting held on Jan 17, some members had demanded across-the-board accountability to bring army generals and judges too under the accountability laws of civil anti-corruption bodies or the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

However, one member of the committee said that bringing judges under the accountability laws of NAB would remain a futile exercise as ultimately their cases would go to their colleagues sitting in courts.

At present judges and generals do not come within the purview of NAB and other civilian anti-corruption bodies as they both have their own accountability systems in their organisations.

Controversial plea bargain (PB) and voluntary return (VR) provisions of the NAB Ordinance and the recent case of corruption of Balochistan’s former finance secretary Mushtaq Raisani were also discussed.

Another member said that a majority of the committee members were of the view that bureaucrats should also declare their assets each year so that corruption, if committed by any civil servant, could be exposed.

He said that accountability laws of other countries like Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong would be reviewed in the next meeting of the committee.

He said that NAB laws had been used for “political victimisation” and this trend should now come to an end and across-the-board accountability should be carried out.

“There should be no sacred cows,” he said.

“The committee will also review the accountability laws of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” the chairman of the committee told reporters after the meeting.

The committee will also review all previous accountability laws of the country to extract their best provisions and incorporate them into NAB laws.

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, had formed a 20-member Parliamentary Committee on National Accountability Law on Jan 5 to amend controversial laws of NAB, including the plea bargain and voluntary return provisions.

The committee has been given three months to present its report to the speaker for necessary amendments to the National Accou–ntability Ordinance (NAO), 1999.

Although the government recently promulgated an ordinance and made some amendments to the ordinance, clipping powers of the NAB chairman to approve PB and VR deals which will now have to be approved by the relevant accountability court, the Senate struck down the ordinance last week and termed the amendments about PB and VR as ‘against basic human rights’.

courtesy : dawn news

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