PML-N is the victim of same NAB law which it refused to amend

 PML-N and PPP promised to bring in the new accountability law for across the board accountability 


The arrest of opposition leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif by NAB Lahore in money laundering and assets beyond the means case today once again raised the question of political engineering, victimisation and one sided accountability to target  opposition leaders.

PML-N leaders including Maryam Nawaz in her press conference condemned the arrest of Shahbaz sharif and criticised the PM Imran Khan for using NAB against opposition leaders. She also alleged that NAB has been used for political engineering.

What the PML-N leaders are facing today is the result of not implementing the pledge made in Charter of Democracy. Both PML-N and PPP promised to change the NAB law and to bring in the new accountability law. But it never happened.  

Former Prime Minister and leader of PML-N Mian Nawaz Sharif and former Prime Minister and PPP chairperson Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed signed the historic Charter of Democracy (COD) on May 15, 2006 in London. Both BB Shaheed and Nawaz Sharif were living in exile when they signed COD.

Some clauses of COD were implemented during the tenure of PPP government (2008-2013) including the historic 18th amendment. But NAB laws were left in their original form. The matter of fact is that PPP leadership tried to convince PML-N leadership to amend or repeal the existing NAB laws to initiate the process of across the board accountability. But PML-N refused to cooperate on that matter and insisted to keep the existing NAB laws.  

The PML-N leadership then thought that most of the cases under existing laws were made against PPP leadership so they have nothing to worry about. They thought that if NAB laws were amended or replaced, it will benefit the PPP. PML-N leaders were thinking that they will never face the situation they faced during Musharaf regime again. The history proved that they were shortsighted and wrong.  

To keep PPP leadership under pressure, PML-N refused to change or amend the NAB laws. Both the parties lost an opportunity to repeal the draconian NAB laws and replace it with better one. PML-N leaders are now facing the NAB cases and arrests under the same NAB laws made during the military dictatorship of General Musharaf.

The history clearly tells us that NAB laws were used for political engineering and as a tool to change political loyalties. The creation of PML-Q as a king’s party and PPP-patriots were the manifestation of that process.

Now both parties are talking about a new charter of democracy. In my view, 2006 charter of Democracy still provide guidelines for a new accountability law.That is exactly what the both parties said about NAB laws and accountability process in COD more than 14 years ago.     

“Taking serious exception to the vilification campaign against the representatives of the people, in particular, and the civilians, in general, the victimisation of political leaders/workers and their media trials under a Draconian law in the name of accountability, in order to divide and eliminate the representative political parties, to Gerrymander a king's party and concoct legitimacy to prolong the military rule;

(c) Accountability of NAB and other Ehtesab operators to identify and hold accountable abuse of office by NAB operators through purgery and perversion of justice and violation of human rights since its establishment.

(d) To replace politically motivated NAB with an independent accountability commission, whose chairman shall be nominated by the prime minister in consultation with the leader of opposition and confirmed by a joint parliamentary committee with 50 per cent members from treasury benches and remaining 50 per cent from opposition parties in same manner as appointment of judges through transparent public hearing. The confirmed nominee shall meet the standard of political impartiality, judicial propriety; moderate views expressed through his judgements and would have not dealt.”

But unfortunately when time comes to implement the COD with full spirit, PML-N backed out to please the powers that be. No lessons were learnt. The history is once again repeating itself. The PML-N once again the target of these draconian laws used by PML-N against PPP leaders.

Charter of Democracy still provide the basis to repeal the existing NAB laws and replace it with balanced laws for accountability of everyone without any exception.

Most of the laws being used by current PTI government were either made during Musharaf regime or PML-N government. The same laws that PML-N now criticise were proudly passed during the tenure of PML-N. The PML-N then refused to consider the concerns shown by civil society and opposition parties including PPP.

                                                   Khalid Bhatti

 


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