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EditorialNew NAB amendment laws

New NAB amendment laws

The recent implementation of the NAB Amendment Ordinance 2023, signed by Acting President Sadiq Sanjrani, marks a significant shift in the powers of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The jurisdiction of NAB has been expanded through this ordinance, reversing the limitations imposed on the agency in previous amendments.

Six amendments have been introduced to enhance NAB’s authority, following advice and consultation from relevant institutions. One notable change is that the Chairman of NAB will now have the ability to issue arrest warrants in cases of non-cooperation during investigations. Additionally, the burden of proof has been placed on the accused, who will be required to establish their innocence without approaching the court for any inquiry.

Furthermore, NAB has been granted the power to arrest individuals during the inquiry stage, and the duration of physical remand has been extended from 14 days to 30 days. The extension of physical remand can be granted by the concerned court based on specific circumstances. This amendment aims to strengthen the accountability process, as the previous legislation had reduced the period of physical remand from 90 days to 14 days, which had faced criticism from the PTI chairman and was challenged in the Supreme Court on the grounds of benefiting the ruling government.

The introduction of these amendments has garnered mixed reactions from political commentators. Some argue that the new measures will pose challenges for top PTI leaders implicated in serious offenses under NAB regulations. Others acknowledge that while the NAB rules have become somewhat stricter, they are not as stringent as those faced by the opposition during the PTI regime. However, it is crucial to emphasize that transparent accountability should be a fundamental expectation.

While strengthening accountability is a commendable goal, it is equally important to ensure transparency in the process. The public must have confidence that investigations are conducted impartially and without any political bias. It is imperative that NAB operates independently and adheres to fair procedures, maintaining a balanced approach towards all individuals, regardless of their political affiliations.

The NAB Amendment Ordinance will be seen as a tool to settle political scores or selectively target certain individuals. Rather, it should have been perceived as a means to promote justice and combat corruption at all levels of society. Transparency in the application of the law will be crucial to maintain public trust and prevent any misuse of power.

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