Former Foreign Minister and PTI Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Sunday accused the government of changing accountability laws to protect the “corrupt elite class”, saying PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would be the “biggest beneficiaries of the amendments”.
“The PTI has decided to take the Supreme Court to challenge the amendments as well as other electoral laws passed by the government,” the PTI stalwart said at a press conference and added that the party had also urged the Supreme Court to take notice of the changes. to the NAB Act, which all but left the accountability watchdog dysfunctional.
Speaking to reporters in Islamabad, Qureshi alleged that the amendments made by the government to the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 were those he once proposed to the PTI in a bid to secure the NRO.
It should be noted that the National Assembly had approved the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill, 2021 on May 26.
Under the amendments, the NAB vice president will become acting president upon the president’s retirement. It will be mandatory to start the process of appointing a new president two months before the retirement of the incumbent and to complete it within 40 days.
Federal and provincial tax matters have been removed from NAB’s jurisdiction in addition to the removal of regulatory agency decisions from NAB’s jurisdiction.
Judges must be appointed in the responsible courts for a period of three years; cases to be decided during the year.
The NAB will be required to ensure the availability of evidence prior to arrest or five years imprisonment will be imposed on any officer for filing false credentials.
Qureshi claimed that the Prime Minister would be a direct beneficiary of the amendment to Section 9 (AV) which deals with bribery and corrupt practices as well as wealth beyond sources of income.
Similarly, the former minister claimed that PML-N supremo Nawaz will also directly benefit from changes to NAB Article 14, which relates to the “presumption against the accused accepting unlawful gratification”. Under this article, the suspect who was required to provide a money trail will no longer be required to provide the same, he added.
“Blanket cover has been provided to all cases relating to money laundering and property beyond means,” he lamented and added that after the amendment, the legal and statutory protection of NAB has been compromised and now falls under the federal government.
PTI APPROACHES THE SUPREME COURT
Shah Mehmood Qureshi revealed that his party has decided to go to the Supreme Court to challenge the amendments as well as other election laws passed by the government, saying: “we also urge the highest court to take notice of the changes made to the NAB law that made the liability watchdog dysfunctional”.
He was of the view that the whole exercise undertaken by the PML-N led government was aimed at “benefitting” political figures who were confronted with high profile cases.
He said the government-approved amendments contravened the requirements of the UN Convention Against Corruption and the Financial Action Task Force.
Qureshi said about “80% of NAB cases” will be transferred to other courts from the tort courts, saying “this is exactly what PML-N and PPP have been looking forward to for a long time” .
The PTI leader also opposed the passage of the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2022, which seeks to abolish the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in general elections and prohibits Pakistanis from voting. overseas to vote electronically.
“Overseas Pakistanis are significant contributors to our economy, but the PPP and PML-N believe that overseas-based Pakistanis are PTI-inclined, which has disqualified them all from voting, which which is an injustice,” added the former minister.
He said the PTI also planned to challenge the amendments to the electoral law.
Qureshi recalled that he challenged the polls in 2018 of NA-156 and PP-217, saying, “I won the NA seat whose result was announced at 10 p.m., but I lost the provincial seat. because its result was announced at 4 o’clock in the morning”.
He said the staff responsible for counting the votes and managing the whole process was the same. “I tell you this because I have seen this happen.”
The PTI leader said electronic voting machines were introduced to eliminate the risk of vote tampering, but the opposition did so “where they find their advantage”.
LEAKED AUDIO REJECTED
Meanwhile, PTI Vice President Shah Mehmood Qureshi has dismissed the leaked audio tape between real estate tycoon Malik Riaz and former President Asif Ali Zardari.
Speaking to reporters, the former foreign minister said there was no way former prime minister Imran Khan would ask someone to fix things for him. These people unite just to degrade the president of the PTI, he added.
It is important to mention that an alleged audio tape of famous real estate tycoon Malik Riaz conveying Imran Khan’s message to former chairman and co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari has been leaked.
In the phone conversation, Malik Riaz could be heard giving the ex-president the message from PTI President Imran Khan.
The date and time of the audio has yet to be confirmed, but Malik Riaz could be heard saying that Khan asked him to mediate between the two political leaders.