Govt asked to take Senate into confidence on TTP talks

Tarar challenges PTI to open debate over NAB Act, says 85% amendments same as brought by PTI govt

Pakistan Peoples Party’s veteran leader Senator Raza Rabbani on Monday urged the government to take the Senate in confidence on the talks being held with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Supporting the stance of Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan of Jamaat-e-Islami on the floor of upper house of parliament, he said there was a faction of the TTP which had increased terrorist activities in the country as it is demanding the rollback of Federally Administered Tribal Areas’ merger into KP. Rabbani said this was an important issue which would be decided by the nation instead of taking decisions behind closed doors. Sending a jirga for resolving the issues is a good omen but it is not a substitute of the parliament, he added.

He said until and unless the agreement is discussed in the parliament, its acceptability would remain questionable. Therefore, the defense minister should come in the House and apprise it about the talks being held with TTP, he said. Meanwhile, Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan raised the issue of target killing of four social activists in Waziristan in broad daylight by unidentified assailants. He said it was the responsibility of the state to protect lives and properties and urged the government to take this issue up and bring the culprits to justice on priority.

Meanwhile, Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazir Tarar on Monday challenged the PTI leaders to an open debate with him over the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Act, saying only anomalies and flaws in the accountability law had been removed. Responding to a point of order in Senate, Azam Tarar said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leadership was criticising the Act without even reading it. Over 85 percent of the amendments in the Act are the same that were incorporated in the two ordinances promulgated during the PTI led government.

He said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) law had been used by past rulers for political engineering and arm twisting of opponents for over 20 years. Citing an example in that regard, he said a government having only one vote’s majority was installed after arm twisting and political engineering through NAB. The Pakistan People’s Party-Patriot and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid were created through coercing and arm twisting by the then NAB authorities, he added.

The minister said an expatriate Pakistani who wanted to serve Pakistan was inducted in the Saad Pani Project but unfortunately the government was changed soon after his induction and he was imprisoned and remained in jail for one and a half years. He was given bail by the court as NAB failed to prove corruption charge against him. “Who is responsible for the ordeal he suffered from though he was innocent?” he asked.

Tarar said the NAB Act was passed by the National Assembly after a thorough discussion of over five hours on its each clause. He said the NAB Act was indeed an NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) like concession for Shahzad Akbar, who had illegally benefitted a property tycoon with Rs54 billion. The new NAB law is also an NRO for Usman Buzdar and Farah Gogi, who committed corruption of billions of rupees, he remarked.

About the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the minister said the government was taking all possible steps to uplift the living standard of the people of merged districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and assured that the budget for the districts would not be curtailed. Separately, leader of the House in Senate Azam Nazeer Tarar on Monday said it was good news for the nation that Pakistan was going to be out of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list, which was the result of collective efforts. The Upper House of the Parliament on Monday witnessed presentation of four reports of Standing Committee on Law and Justice and a report of Standing Committee on States and Frontier Region.