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Governor casts doubt on accountability if NAB law abolished

Governor casts doubt on accountability if NAB law abolished

MATIARI: Against the backdrop of the Sindh cabinet’s decision to repeal the applicability of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 in the province, Governor Mohammad Zubair on Sunday wondered how anyone would be held accountable if the National Accountability Bureau was done away with.

He said this while talking to reporters at the residence of the president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Hyderabad chapter, Syed Shah Zaman Shah, in Bhanoth, Matiari.

The Sindh cabinet had on Friday approved a draft bill to repeal the applicability of NAO, 1999, better known as the NAB law, in the province and the same bill would be tabled in the provincial assembly’s session beginning on Monday (today).

The governor — whose assent is a must after the assembly passes the bill to become law — avoided making a direct comment on the Sindh government’s decision and said he would comment when the government tabled the bill.

However, he hastened to add that NAB was established for the whole country and if the Sindh government was proposing something to repeal the applicability of the NAB law then some alternative had to be put in place.

He said that the people had concerns about corruption and if the role of NAB was abolished then how would people be held accountable.

Commenting on another decision of the provincial government through which it had curtailed the powers of the inspector general of police to transfer and post senior police officers, the governor said: “If his [IGP’s] authority is curtailed, it will create hindrances.”

The governor, a PML-N nominee, made it clear that nothing was going to happen on July 10 when the joint investigation team (JIT) probing allegations of money laundering against the prime minister and his children would submit its report to the Supreme Court.

“The earth is not going to be shaken on July 10,” was his reply when asked what would happen after the JIT submitted its report before the apex court on that date.

He said the July 10 deadline was in fact fixed by the Supreme Court, which would study the JIT report and it may take weeks or even months.

He said that the JIT proceedings were taking place in line with the Constitution.

He hoped that the democratic dispensation would keep working and the next elections would be held in 2018.

“It is a historic JIT. Such accountability is never seen at the apex court level and then the JIT continued proceedings in which the executive doesn’t have any role. A sitting PM and his family members who are non-resident Pakistanis and are not covered under Pakistani laws are appearing before it” he said.

He said that the JIT had political and historic significance. “The PML-N is a political party and no one could disengage it because of legal nature of the case. The PML-N has to react politically. If you say it should not react politically you will yourself be surprised and find a conspiracy theory then,” he said.

He said everyone could have concern and even political parties could have their concerns. “PML-N is not feeling cornered”, he asserted.

“The JIT will have years-long implications. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was martyred in 1979 but no one is ready to defend it [apex court’s decision],” he said, adding: When you are out of some situation and see things in hindsight you feel how important fairness is. Pakistan and Sindh suffered [in the backdrop of Bhutto’s hanging] tremendously. In the present JIT the premier was called and he appeared before it which is a positive trend.”

The governor said that doors of Governor House were open for every political party, including the PPP and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, and no politician irrespective of his political affiliation could claim that he refused to meet him.

He said he would always talk how to overcome the sense of deprivation in Sindh and this had nothing to do with politics.

He said the federal government today and especially after 2018 elections would work with a renewed vigour and would make sure that Sindh should not lag behind any other province in terms of development.

He dispelled the impression that entire development funds were being spent in Punjab.

He said that the seventh NFC award was announced in 2011 during the tenure of the then PPP government in which provinces were given a 60 per cent share in the divisible pool.

In 2013, Rs1,900 billion was collected and provinces were given their share as per the agreed upon formula. Today, Rs3,500bn was collected and provinces were given their share accordingly, he added.

“Now, the PM will announce a package for Karachi in his upcoming visit”, he said.

He said economic activities were at a standstill in the last 20 to 25 years in Karachi, which used to be shut in a mere 10 minutes until 2013. “But now none can do it even in 10 months as peace has returned to the metropolis.”

The federal government would try to bring in foreign investment.

He said that a brief spell of rains had paralysed life in Karachi and all parties which had remained in power must take responsibility for it and explain why infrastructure was not improved in Karachi.

He said that Karachi being the financial hub could not be left to fend for itself as the country’s economy was dependent on it.

“So, the federal government is stepping in as far as projects of K-IV, Lyari Expressway, Green Line,” he said.

Earlier, the governor arrived at Bhitshah in a helicopter and paid his respect at the shrine of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai. PML-N Sindh’s senior vice president Syed Shah Mohammad Shah accompanied him to his brother’s house in Bhanoth.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2017

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