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Unhindered accountability: Nisar wants SC to pick NAB chief

ISLAMABAD: The security czar has proposed that the head of the National Accountability Bureau be appointed through the Supreme Court to make the accountability watchdog free from political influence – of both the government and the opposition.

“Accountability can be done only when NAB’s chairman is appointed by the Supreme Court, so that it may be completely independent of the government and the opposition,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said on Saturday during an informal talk with journalists “How can NAB be free and independent when the government and the opposition appoint its chairman?”

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“NAB can move towards betterment only when the appointment of its chairman is not made by the government and the opposition. Moreover, it should also not be under the administrative and financial control of any government department,” he added.

Nisar said there were lacunas in the National Accountability Ordinance 1999, while the plea bargain section was tantamount to giving a safe passage to thieves.

Plea bargaining allows people involved in graft to pay a certain portion of the embezzled money and be released without fear of prosecution. However, the top court in October asked the NAB chairman not to approve deals for voluntary return.

“When we [PML-N] were in the opposition, we had made an utmost attempt to amend the NAB law but the previous PPP government did not support us,” said Nisar. “They [PPP] don’t want the NAB law to be changed at any cost.”

Asked as to why the PML-N government had not changed the law even after coming to power, he said the government did have a majority in the Senate.

To another query about rumours that he was being considered for the slot of prime minister in the next general election, he said that in the last 35 years of his political career, he had got many chances to become prime minister but he did not opt for them. “I am a contented person who gives more importance to dignity and character than designations,” he said.

Responding to another question, the interior minister also sought to quash the perception that PPP Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari had returned to Pakistan after striking a ‘deal’ with the government.

“Deal has become our favourite word, and I think it should be avoided. I assure you the government had not extended any guarantee or assurance to Zardari prior to his return. His name is not on the Exit Control List (ECL) and no FIR is registered against him. There was also no ban on his return,” Nisar added.

According to the interior minister, the PPP did not like him because he was pursuing graft cases against the party’s members. “These cases were basically the result of proactive directives of the apex court,” he added.

He said he had received a file through post and the file contained NAB references filed against Khursheed Shah during the tenure of a former prime minister Shaukat Aziz.

He said also defended decision of removing name of former president Pervez Musharraf from the ECL as, according to him, his ministry had no other option after the verdict of the apex court in this context.

“I have not placed the name of model Ayyan on the ECL. It was put on the list on the recommendation of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR),” he clarified. Ayyan has been facing money laundering charges and Nisar has often pointed to her alleged links with the PPP leadership.

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Talking about the performance if his ministry, Nisar said more than 30,000 Pakistani passports fraudulently obtained by foreigners had been cancelled during his tenure as interior minister.

“As many as 200,000 CNICs have been blocked and thousands cancelled,” he said, adding that the ministry has also canceled 2,000 official and diplomatic passports in one-go.

He said the consolidated list of people placed on the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act had been prepared during this period and a database of the criminals was also being arranged.

“There is no proposal under consideration to abolish Saturday’s official holiday from the department of the federal government,” he added.

courtesy : express tribune



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