Birds of a feather to amend laws together | Pakistan Today

Birds of a feather to amend laws together

–Govt agrees to withdraw six ordinances, accommodate proposals of PML-N, PPP in two bills, including key NAB law amendments 

–Opp to support govt on 9 bills which will be presented in House on Friday

ISLAMABAD: The momentum and the environment of mutual understanding created by the smooth sailing of the services chiefs’ tenure bills in parliament seems to be carrying on as the government and the opposition have ironed out their differences over the amendments to the country’s accountability law among other legislation.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government on Thursday agreed to withdraw six ordinances/bills promulgated on November 7, 2019, and accommodate the amendments presented by the opposition into the important bills, including the key National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2019, after mutual agreement.

An informed source told Pakistan Today that the opposition has assured support for nine government bills to be presented on Friday while in return the government would accommodate some of the opposition’s amendments in the two remaining bills that would be passed once the agreement is made next week.

The development came after detailed talks during the proceedings of the National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee on Law where the treasury and the opposition members agreed to move ahead. The government was represented by Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Senator Azam Swati and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan.

Former NA speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Rana Tanveer Hussain represented the PML-N while Syed Naveed Qamar represented the PPP in the talks.

According to the source, the two sides agreed to accommodate each other’s views in the legislation and the federal government agreed to withdraw the six bills and ordinances after assurance from the opposition for support on the amended bills. In a quid-pro-quo, the federal government agreed to accommodate some proposals from the PML-N in the NAB amendment ordinance while the talks on PPP’s proposals would be negotiated further.

According to the source, the government would withdraw The Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates Bill, 2019 (Ordinance No XVI of 2019); The Legal Aid and Justice Authority Bill, 2019 (Ordinance No XVIII of 2019); The Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Bill, 2019 (Ordinance No XVII of 2019); The Superior Courts (Court Dress and Mode of Address) Order (Repeal) Bill, 2019 (Ordinance No XIX of 2019); The Benami Transaction (Prohibition) (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (Ordinance No XX of 2019); and The National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (Ordinance No XXI of 2019).

According to the source, the federal government would move nine new bills in the House on Friday as talks would continue so as the legislation could be made unanimously. The source said that the opposition had proposed that the federal government should not amend the NAB Ordinance for involvement in minimal financial irregularities. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan would move following four bills: The Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates Bill, 2019; The Legal Aid and Justice Authority Bill, 2019; The Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Bill, 2019; The Superior Courts (Court Dress and Mode of Address) Order (Repeal) Bill, 2019.

It merits mention here that the government had made drastic changes in the country’s accountability law — the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 — through a presidential ordinance promulgated last month that would benefit not only politicians from across the aisle but also bureaucrats as well as the business community. The new ordinance has made the NAB a ‘toothless’ body since now it can only take up cases involving corruption or corrupt practices exceeding an amount of Rs500 million.

The amendments have hit the core of the accountability law that was first promulgated by then military ruler General (r) Pervez Musharraf soon after ousting then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a coup in 1999.

The powers of NAB have been curtailed keeping in view frequent complaints of the bureaucracy and the business community. The two groups had complained that due to NAB’s actions, bureaucrats, businessmen and industrialists had suffered a lot, with the result that officials had become reluctant to sign files and businessmen were unwilling to make any investment or take new initiatives.

Mian Abrar

The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He can be reached at [email protected]



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