By Shakeel Ahmed
ISLAMABAD: Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that the recent promulgation of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Ordinance, 2019 is a tacit admission by the government that the corruption watchdog “is a farce” and should be “abolished”. Taking to twitter on Sunday, he claimed that the ordinance was “proof that it agrees with President Zardari” that “NAB and the economy cannot run together”. “Instead of clearly biased efforts, the government should work with opposition,” he said, advising the government to do its “job and legislate”. The federal cabinet on Friday gave its approval to the NAB Ordinance, 2019, which was also approved by President Arif Alvi on the same day. Under the ordinance, NAB will no longer be allowed to take action against government employees. The newly introduced NAB ordinance as “mother of all NROs”. This was said in a press conference held at PPP Media Office, Islamabad, by Qamar Zaman Kaira, Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed, Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, Nazir Dhoki and others. Qamar Zaman Kaira said that when President Asif Ali Zardari has said that NAB and economy cannot go together, the PTI had said that PPP is asking for NRO. “The government by introducing this NAB ordinance has in fact given NRO to its cronies. This is another U-turn by Imran Khan and his last U-turn is also round the corner his political life. When the need of selected ends, then the selected is allowed taking last U-turn, Mr. Kaira said. President of PPP Punjab Qamar Zaman Kaira said that NAB cannot conduct accountability of judiciary, army, bureaucracy and the rulers. It can only conduct accountability of two opposition parties, he added.
He thanked Rawalpindi police for providing good security to the Liaqat Baghjalsa but demanded withdrawing of FIR registered against the PPP workers. He said that PPP had always faced and struggled against dictatorships and now the Party is coming out with new zeal and fervour against this selected and puppet government. “We call this government a fascist government because it does not want us to hold political activities and contact people. No force in the world can keep PPP away from the people of Pakistan”, he said. He announced that before the martyrdom anniversary of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will visit 8 districts and this will continue after the anniversary as well. PPP Punjab President Qamar Zaman Kaira on Sunday criticised the government’s decision to bring in amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance, saying that the changes were introduced “to save their allies”.
“In order to save their saathhi (allies), they have introduced amendments in the NAB ordinance so that whether it is the MalamJabba case or the BRT case, their party members remain safe,” said Kaira during a press conference in Islamabad. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government made drastic changes in the country’s accountability law — the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 — through a presidential ordinance promulgated on Friday that would benefit not only politicians from across the aisle but also bureaucrats as well as the business community. A day later, the majority of the amendments were taken back in view of growing criticism against what many critics described as a “mother of all NROs” to businessmen, bureaucrats and politicians. Promising to bring in a new action plan, whereby “the government will be sent packing”,Kaira said that signs of worry can already be seen on the part of the government. “The extent of their worry is such that when Zardari said on the floor of the House that NAB and the economy cannot run together, a lot of criticism was dished out.
“When we said we want an amendment in the NAB laws, they accused us of seeking an NRO. “We told them that our bill is ready for discussion in the Senate. But they not only refused, they resorted to bad mouthing,” said Kaira, adding that the objectives behind bringing in the amendments now were evident. He said it was already clear what the “fate” of the opposition leaders is after the courts granted them bail in various cases.
“Today, after this [new] ordinance, NAB cannot hold the army, the judiciary, the government, their allies, the bureaucracy, or the traders accountable. “Only two parties remain who will now be probed and NAB will narrow its scope of investigation around these,” said the PPP leader, in a reference to his own party and PML-N. “The sins of those who allied with Khan sahib or the powerful have been forgiven. How will Khan sahib explain this amendment now?” Kaira said that people now say there is no one left in their ranks. “So who did he mean to point at when he said he is facing a lot of resistance?” “He says he wants change but his efforts are being denounced. He also says the opposition is nothing and can do nothing. Then who is he referring to? Who is countering his efforts?” said Kaira, continuing to raise questions on the premier’s remarks made during an awards ceremony of the Pakistan Stock Exchange held in Karachi on Friday. “What actually stands in his way are his own broken promises and his unveiled secrets,” said Kaira. He said that the “tsunami chant” the prime minister had loved to repeat during election campaigning “has come in the form of a plague and has drowned all schools of thought”. “So as a result, when the people are raising condemnations and exposing the lies from within the party’s own rank and file there is a lot of frustration,” said the PPP leader. “So there is no condemnation, rather a sense of reproachment that is rising from within your own self,” he said, addressing the premier.
He also criticised the premier for having made the parliament “redundant”. “When the parliament had to play its biggest role and when we were calling for legislation, they didn’t want it then. Now an ordinance factory next to the parliament is legislating,” he said, in criticism of the President House. “[Pakistan] Peoples Party has always fought challenges and led from the front. Bilawal has already laid out a plan and has the resolve to face the challenges. “Soon we will see Khan sahib make the final U-turn of his political career which will send him back from where he came,” the PPP leader boldy declared.
Kaira also censured the administration for registering a “politically motivated FIR” against PPP workers for having allegedly raised objectionable slogans during the LiaquatBagh rally held by the party on Friday to commemorate the assassination of Benazir Bhutto at the same venue. He spoke of the time when slogans were raised against PPP but they demonstrated restraint. “We were patient even amid accusations of committing treason against the country. There were all sorts of false allegations but we continued to tolerate them.” While appreciating the “excellent arrangements” made by the administration, the PPP leader requested that they not act as the government’s “instruments of deception” and withdraw the FIR. “The youth only chanted slogans out of their political enthusiasm […] they get carried away.” He said that there had been efforts throughout to prevent the PPP from holding a rally. “They [NAB] were sending the chairman notices, refusing to give permission to hold the rally. There were many excuses given.” “But now that things have taken off, we won’t be stopped.”
By Shakeel Ahmed