Govt to bring ordinance for NAB chairman’s appointment sans Opposition consultation

Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said Tuesday the government has finalised the draft for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman’s appointment, which will remove the “legal laguna” of consulting with the Opposition on picking a new chief or extending the incumbent’s tenure.

The minister, addressing a post-cabinet press conference in Islamabad, said the new ordinance would empower the accountability courts, as the government wants to strengthen the systems, and not an individual.

The information minister said it would have been better had the Opposition proposed a name, but unfortunately, they could not do so. He reiterated that the government would not hold talks with Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, as he was a suspect in a NAB case.

“Opposition should now start searching for a new Opposition leader,” Chaudhry said, adding that the matter related to the NAB chairman did not come under discussion during the federal cabinet’s meeting.

The government, through the new ordinance, seeks to overcome Section 6 of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), which suggests that the NAB chairman will be appointed by the president in consultation with the leader of the house and the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly for a non-extendable period of four years.

The development comes after the government had decided to give an extension to NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal and a draft ordinance was been prepared by the legal minds of the government, sources told Geo News.

A meeting was chaired to discuss the ordinance which was drafted in consultation with federal ministers. Law Minister Dr Farogh Nasim, Adviser to the PM on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan and Adviser on Interior and Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar suggested changes in the law.

In contrast, Federal Law Minister Farogh Naseem had rejected media reports and clarified that his ministry had not drafted an ordinance to extend the tenure of Justice (retd) Iqbal as the NAB chief.

For the first time, modern technology will be used in the next census, tablets and updated devices will be used in the process; National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and other institutions will be asked to assist the government in this regard, he said.

“In the next phase, the Election Commission of Pakitan will be given time for delimitation,” the information minister said.

Reducing prisoners’ sentences

The federal cabinet has also decided to reduce the sentence of prisoners on the occasion of Eid Milad-un-Nabi (PBUH); the nation observe the occasion with traditionally fervour and zeal.

Adviser to Prime Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan informed the cabinet that the government had tried again to hold talks with the Opposition on electoral reforms, but the parties did not give a positive response.

The minister said the cabinet was also briefed on the revelations made in the Pandora Papers. He said the Prime Minister’s Office has established a cell under Prime Minister Inspection Commission to investigate the people mentioned in the leaks, with institutions like FBR, FIA, and NAB doing partaking in the probe.

Regarding doctors’ protest against the National Licensing Exam (NLE), Chaudhry said it seems strange that they want to become doctors “without getting their fitness checked”, adding that the government could not take “risks” in this regard.

After MBBS degree, NLE exam will also be conducted to assess the medical students, the information minister said.

Speaking about the Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT), he said the formula used to assess the exam was the one prevalent “across the globe”.