Interior ministry now trying to grab NAB

By Muhammad Ahmad Noorani

ISLAMABAD: After a failed coup against the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the interior ministry is now out to grab the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The interior ministry has moved a summary to the Prime Minister Secretariat for bringing the NAB under its control in the current month of July, sources told The News.However, the summary was sent to the Ministry of Law for removing legal hitches in the smooth transfer of the NAB to Rehman Malik’s control.

Officials in the law ministry were not confirming whether the NAB summary was still in their ministry or had been sent back to the Prime Minister Secretariat.However, a source in the Prime Minister Secretariat is sure that had the failed coup against the ISI and the IB not happened, the NAB’s control would have been transferred to the interior ministry by now.

Interior Secretary Kamal Shah, when asked by The News about the summary and at what stage it was, said he could not tell the exact status right now.“You should better contact the law ministry to know what is the status or legal position of the summary. I am in a meeting and don’t know the exact details,” the interior secretary said.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who is in the US on an official visit, on Wednesday said the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) will restructure the whole system of accountability and would bring the NAB under the judicial control.

According to sources, the PPP wants to appoint some judges as head of NAB to show that it had been brought under the judicial control. However, it is already mentioned in the NAB Ordinance that its chairman could be a retired judge of the Supreme Court or retired chief justice of a high court.

The Article 6 of the NAB Ordinance 1999 reads: “There shall be a NAB chairman to be appointed by the president in consultation with the (leader of the house and the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly) for a (non-extendable) period of (four) years on such terms and conditions as may be determined by the president.”

For removing the present chairman and appointing a new one, however, the same NAB ordinance, which is protected under the Schedule VI of the Constitution, reads: “(i) And (NAB Chairman) shall not be removed except on the grounds of removal of Judge of Supreme Court of Pakistan (Provided that the present incumbent of the office of Chairman, NAB, shall complete the period of four years from the date of his initial appointment). (ii) The NAB Chairman may, in writing under his hand, addressed to the president, resign his office.

The article about the appointment of the NAB chairman says “((ba) A person shall not be appointed as NAB chairman unless he (i) is a retired Chief Justice or a Judge of the Supreme Court or a Chief Justice of a High Court, or (ii) Is a retired officer of the Armed Forces of Pakistan equivalent to the rank of a Lieutenant General; or (iii) Is a retired Federal Government Officer in BPS-22 or equivalent].

According to sources in the law ministry, the PPP government requires a constitutional amendment to remove the Schedule VI if it wants to go ahead with its own plan. Otherwise, any childish move will meet the same fate as had happened in the case of the ISI and the IB.

The News, 31/7/2008

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