Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Tuesday announced that his party has decided to challenge in the Supreme Court the incumbent government’s amendments to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Ordinance.
In a video statement, the ousted prime minister claimed that Pakistan cannot progress if it didn’t address corruption. Referring to a statement of Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan—in which he had said part of the reason for the no-confidence resolution against Khan had been the former opposition’s belief he intended to arrest them all, establish a one-party state and impose presidential rule on the country—he said this “proved” the coalition government had wanted him out of power because he would have placed them all behind bars.
Claiming he had been “blackmailed” by the former opposition throughout his rule, Khan described the changes to the NAB laws as “worse” than dropping a bomb on the country. He said the incumbent rulers should be imprisoned for “shamelessly” passing amendments intended to “save” the leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz).
Summarizing some of the changes to the laws, he said the government had amended Section 14 to hold an accused accountable only for the “money left in fake accounts” upon their arrest. Similarly, he said, the current tax laws placed the burden of proof on the accused to provide a money trail for any alleged corruption but the amendment had shifted this onto NAB.
On assets beyond means, Khan said the NAB law had changed Section 9 to provide relief to “major government leaders.” Earlier, he said, a public office holder had to justify any assets beyond their income but after the new law, “they have reversed the role and NAB will have to explain how a public office holder got extra assets.”
Changes to Section 21, he said, had now made information gained through foreign assets inadmissible, which he claimed would benefit PMLN’s Nawaz Sharif and his daughter and PMLN Vice President Maryam Nawaz. He said the government had also ended NAB’s ambit to investigate money-laundering cases, assigning them to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). “The FIA is already under the Interior Ministry’s control. How can we imagine that Rana Sanaullah will launch cases against Nawaz Sharif or Asif Zardari,” he said.
The government passed the National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2022, in the National Assembly and the Senate last month. President Arif Alvi rejected the bill and urged further consideration, prompting the government to pass it anew in a joint sitting of Parliament. The president returned this bill unsigned, saying his “conscience” did not permit him to approve it. The bill would now automatically become law within 10 days. Responding to the PTI’s criticism, the government has maintained that it can justify all changes to the law, adding that it is merely trying to ensure NAB can no longer be used for political victimization.