The minister of parliamentary affairs on Monday slammed the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for not fulfilling his mandate, saying the current process of accountability was provoking controversy for the government.
Addressing the Senate on a motion moved by opposition lawmakers over alleged political victimization and denial of fundamental rights, Azam Khan Swati said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf fully believed in across the board accountability. He said the party had taken stern action against 20 of its own lawmakers for “selling” their votes in the March 2018 Senate elections and it was not afraid of punishing wrongdoing.
During his speech, Swati took NAB Chairman Justice (retd.) Javed Iqbal to task, urging him to operate within the mandate assured him under the law. “Our government is earning a bad name because of you [Iqbal],” he said. He also urged the opposition to calm down, claiming true “political accountability” was done under Saifur Rehman when he led the Ehtesab Bureau from 1997-1990.
Swati urged the opposition to work with the government to fix flaws in accountability laws, but was quick to allege that the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) had only joined hands now to “obstruct” the process of accountability.
Earlier, former interior minister Rehman Malik said there needed to be differentiation between those accused of criminal activity and those found guilty. He said political leaders who previously held positions such as president or prime minister should not be arrested until convicted by a court of law. The PPP’s Malik also urged the government to allow former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to travel abroad for medical treatment and demanded the immediate release of former president Asif Ali Zardari over his deteriorating health condition.
Senator Mushahidullah Khan of the PMLN, meanwhile, dismissed the government’s claims that it had no say in the cases launched against opposition leaders. He said the PTI had been the complainant in the Panama Papers case against then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, adding that Sharif had not even been named in it. He also claimed that a large number of the people with undisclosed assets had belonged to the PTI but no action had been taken against them.