The Government of Pakistan has made changes in the anti-corruption laws overnight and made them stronger.
The recent amendment to Pakistan’s anti-corruption laws by the government has the potential to pose greater challenges for former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Imran Khan is scheduled to appear before the leading anti-corruption investigation agency on Tuesday regarding a corruption case.
With these legal modifications, the likelihood of heightened obstacles for him has escalated.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has been given the authority to arrest suspects during an investigation.
Additionally, the NAB court has been given the authority to remand suspects for 30 days in custody after arrest rather than the previous 15 days.
In the absence of President Arif Alvi, who is away on pilgrimage, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, currently serving as acting president.
Sadiq Sanjrani issued an ordinance granting the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) the power to detain suspects during investigations for an extended period and allowing the NAB court to remand a suspect in custody for 30 days after the arrest, doubling the previous remand duration of 15 days.
This move aims to enhance the NAB’s investigative capabilities and streamline the process of holding suspects accountable for alleged financial wrongdoings and corruption.
The ordinance was published at Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s proposal.
The summary’s recommendation made by the prime minister in paragraph 6 is accepted.
In a notice bearing Sanjrani’s signature, it was announced that the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023, had been approved and published.
Just hours before Khan’s scheduled appearance before the NAB, the revisions were made around midnight.
The Al-Qadir Trust case
To appear before the NAB in the Al-Qadir Trust case, Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi traveled from Lahore to Islamabad, according to his media team.
The Al-Qadir Trust case alleges that a PTI leader and his wife acquired land and substantial sums of money from a real estate company as part of a purported arrangement to legalize Rs 50 billion.
This money was reportedly repatriated to Pakistan by the UK during the preceding government under Khan’s leadership.
At least 50 billion rupees have been stolen in the Al-Qadir Trust scandal. Khan has refuted all accusations of misconduct and asserted that the government is pursuing him for political ends.
Fascinatingly, the same government had previously altered the NAB statute to reduce the remand time from the initial 90 days to 14 days. But it increased the remand period once again, to 30 days.
As succeeding governments exploited them to muzzle opposition, the NAB laws have generated considerable controversy.
Prime Minister Sharif was among the current Cabinet members who spent months in NAB jail due to allegations of corruption while Khan was the prime minister.
NAB Law Amendments
The government of Pakistan has introduced significant amendments to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) laws, aiming to enhance the institution’s effectiveness in combating corruption and ensuring greater accountability.
The National Assembly passed the National Accountability Bill, 2022 in August intending to eliminate private transactions from the NAB’s scope.
The modified Bill fixed NAB’s pecuniary jurisdiction so that it could only take legal action in response to major scandals.
Additionally, it had been suggested that to speed up the court’s processes within a year, supplementary references could only be filed with the court’s consent.
According to the Bill, the investigation officers are not allowed to harass anyone while conducting an investigation or inquiry, and they are only allowed to ask questions that are necessary for gathering information for the investigation or inquiry.
Azam Nazeer Tarar, the law minister, introduced the National Accountability (Amendment) bill, in 2023, over opposition from PTI-affiliated senators.
This bill had previously been approved by the National Assembly.
The bill gives the NAB chairman the right to close open inquiries and investigations if he believes there is no probable cause, as well as to transfer graft cases involving corruption of less than Rs 500 million to the appropriate body, authority, or department.
However, this time overnight To make the anti-corruption laws more strict, Pakistan’s government made modifications overnight.