Government ready to sit with opposition for reforming NAB laws: Qureshi

Business Recorder

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Thursday that the government is ready to sit with the opposition parties to bring reforms in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) law and ensure that process of accountability moves ahead transparently.

Speaking on the floor of National Assembly, he said that people want to bring the corrupt to justice and in this endeavour the NAB has been working under the law of the land.

Qureshi said the government is ready to sit with the opposition to bring reforms in the NAB law and ensure smooth accountability process. He also criticised the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government for failing to bring reforms in the NAB in its five years tenure.

Earlier, PML-N legislator and former Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq rebutted the reports that the government was engaged with the opposition to amend the NAB law. He said that no government representative had contacted them for the purpose.

Responding to the opposition’s criticism about Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement during his visit to Iran, the foreign minister said Pakistan has positively engaged with Iran to curb the cross-border movement of militant elements.

He said that Pakistan has a long border of 905 kilometres with Iran and “we want to keep it peaceful and stable.” He said there are certain elements including the regional spy agencies which are bent upon hurting this relationship by creating misunderstandings through their nefarious acts. He, however, said these sordid designs will be foiled through collective efforts.

The foreign minister said that Pakistan has taken a number of steps to raise the level of understanding and confidence between the two neighbouring countries. He said, “We have decided to establish a joint border centre as well as fence the border to curb the movement of militant elements.”

“The statement made by Prime Minister Imran Khan in Iran was taken out of context,” he said, adding that given the sensitivity involved, the opposition parties should not do politics on it.

About Punjab local government act, the foreign minister said, “Our effort is to give more powers and financial autonomy to the local governments to address the problems of the people at the grassroots level.”

Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem tabled before the house seven bills and urged the opposition parties to support the government for passage of these people-friendly legislations.

The bills included: The Muslim Family Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (Section 4), The Muslim Family Laws (Amendment) bill, 2019 (Section 7), The Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates Bill, 2019, the Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Bill, 2019, The Whistleblower Protection and Vigilance Commission Bill, 2019, The Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and the Legal Aid and Justice Authority Bill, 2019.

Explaining key features of the bills, the law minister said the Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Bill is aimed at ensuring speedy disposal of civil cases maximum to two years and the Legal Aid and Justice Authority bill will extend assistance to women and children involved in criminal cases.

The law minister said enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Bill will ensure that women are not deprived of their property rights and the women ombudsperson will take notice of such cases and deal with them as civil suits.

Naseem said under the Whistleblower Protection and Vigilance Commission Bill, 2019, any person who shares information about alleged corrupt practices will be given a fixed percentage of the recovered amount as a reward. The chair referred the bills to the relevant standing committees.

Earlier, during the Question Hour, Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and Development Kanwal Shauzab informed the House that the government has approved eleven projects relating to water, energy and communication since coming to power.

She said the government is developing a policy for equitable development of less-developed districts to bring them at par with other developed districts of the country.

She said one Special Economic Zone is being established at Rashakai under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. The location for the zone was identified by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan told the House that an international level research university will be constructed at the PM House as per the commitment made by Prime Minister Imran Khan. He said bylaws of CDA will be changed for this purpose. To another question, he said that Pakistan Steel Mill is not being privatised but it will be revived. He said, “Initially we want to privatise two RLNG plants, two banks, Jinnah Convention Centre Islamabad, Lakhra Coal Development Company and residual shares of Mari Petroleum Company Limited. He said institutions such as Pakistan Steel Mill, PIA, Radio Pakistan, PTV and Pakistan Post are national assets.

Parliamentary Secretary for Finance Makhdoom Zain Hussain Qureshi informed the House that a domestic resource mobilisation programme will be launched from 1st of July with the aim to broaden the tax base. He said this programme of $400 million will be financed by the World Bank.

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