Govt to introduce ordinance for NAB chief’s slot: Fawad

Ijaz Kakakhel

Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday said the government has finalized 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.

Talking to journalists after federal cabinet meeting, the minister said in this regard a 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 draft of the NAB ordinance has been drafted and will be issued today (Wednesday),” the minister maintained.

He added that the government has repeatedly tried to hold talks with the Opposition regarding electoral reforms but didn’t get a positive response. Fawad Chaudhry said the “high-level” inspection cell formed by PM Imran Khan will investigate all the 700 Paki-stanis who have been named in the ICIJ’s Pandora Papers.

“The cell will investigate who owns offshore company and who does not,” the minister pointed out. It will then present its recommendations to the prime minister by way of reports and the prime minister will issue orders in this regard based on these recommendations.

Sunday night, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released 11.9 million leaked documents to expose the “financial secrecy” of world leaders and others.

Of the 700 Pakistanis named in Pandora Papers only seven are active politicians, ICIJ summary of the leaked data stated.

The documents also reveal key information about money laundering, fraudsters, and drug dealers. The minister said that the government will give consumers a Rs7 per unit discount on the additional consumption of electricity during winters.

Talking about gas rates, he said that there’s a gas crisis across the world. Chaudhry added that the federal cabinet has decided to reduce the sentences of prisoners on Eid Milad-un-Nabi.

Fawad Ch also said that the Federal cabinet approved recommendations regarding conducting seventh census and also decided to hold next general election under new census. It should be noted that the last census in the country was conducted in 2017.

The political leadership of Sindh had expressed reservations over the results of the census. The political leadership was of the view that the population of urban areas of the province including Sindh in general and Karachi in particular has been underestimated in the census.

The meeting partially approved proposals regarding the country s seventh census. The cabinet also approved the deployment of troops for the seventh census.

The minister said modern technology would be used in the new census in the country. He said when people are counted, a curfew is imposed at the same time and a questionnaire is sent to the people to ask if they have lived at the same address for more than 6 months and will they stay another 6 months on the same address.

Talking about government s plan on using Electronic Voting Machines in next general elections, he said Prime Minister s Advisor Dr Babar Awan briefed the meeting that opposition was invited to come up with its recommen-dations on EVMs, but to no avail.

He said the government will take this matter to the joint session of the parliament, but at the same time it will continue convincing the opposition over this issue.

He said the government is working on electoral reforms, including the use of EVMs, to ensure free, fair, transparent, and credible elections in the country.

Fawad Chaudhry said that the government has decided to celebrate Ashra Rehmatul-Lil-Alameen (PBUH) from 3rh Rabi-ul-Awwal to 13th Rabi-ul-Awwal at the official level and events will be organised in this regard.

Talking about the doctors who are protesting against National Licensing Exam (NLE), Fawad said that we will never want our doctors to be not up to international standards.

He said Dr Faisal Sultan gave a detailed briefing to the Cabinet on the entry test in Medical Colleges adding that it is not possible to arrange laptops and computers for 200,000 students during the test.

The Minister said the cabinet was told that bumper crop of wheat, sugarcane, rice and maize is expected this year, which is a good omen for country s economy.

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