After severe criticism not only from the highest seat of justice (Supreme Court of Pakistan) but also from within its own ranks, the government has decided to review the National Accountability Law (NAB), its scope and especially plea bargain.
Law Minister Zahid Hamid while briefing a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice here on Monday said a joint committee of Parliament comprising members of the Senate and National Assembly has been constituted that would review all NAB laws including section 25 dealing with plea bargain and voluntary return of looted money. Senator Javed Abbasi was presiding over the meeting.
Senator Farhatullah Babar while giving his point of view said that the NAB law was being used for political re-engineering and there should be no sacred cows if the law is to be reviewed. Present in the meeting, the NAB representatives briefed the committee about the issue of Voluntary Return and Plea Bargaining (PB). It was informed that the concept of Plea Bargain is not new in criminal proceedings but the said concept is prevailing in different accountability and prosecution systems of the world.
They informed an amount of Rs37.120 billion have been recovered so far through VR & PB from 4565 accused persons since inception. Chairman of the Committee said that time is ripe for reviewing the law and the Joint Committee should review the NAB law comprehensively.
The Committee also considered The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2016, introduced by Senator Sassui Palijo and Senator Mukhtiar Ahmed Dhamrah. Senator Sassui Palijo said that regional languages need to be given proper recognition to help promote national integration and build a strong federation. She said that a number of movements are going on in the country demanding grant of national status to these languages. Therefore, it has become imperative to give those languages recognition.
It was informed that Senator Karim Ahmed Khawaja has also moved a similar Bill. The Committee decided to consider both these bills together in the next meeting. Senator Sassui Palijo said that there is cultural diversity in our society and there is need to promote unity in diversity.
Senator Farooq H. Naek emphasized that it would help strengthen democracy in the country and would alleviate a sense of deprivation among the provinces.
The meeting was attended by Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan and Senators Saleem Zia, Mrs. Zahida Khan, Farooq H. Naek, Dr. Muhammad Ali Khan Saif, Farhatullah Babar, Sassui Palijo and Mukhtiar Ahmed Dhamrah. Senior officers of the Minister of Law, NAB and others were also present.