ISLAMABAD: PakistanPeoples Party (PPP) leader and former president Asif Ali Zardari on Monday lashed out at the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on the floor of the National Assembly, demanding that the chairman of the country`s top anti-corruption watchdog be summoned before parliament for his recent actions against parliamentarians.
Speaking on a point of order on the opening day of the National Assembly`s new session, Mr Zardari, who is facing charges of money laundering through fake bank accounts, suggested that the cases of parliamentarians should be referred to the house committee on law and justice before being sent to NAB.
`Why should we go to the NAB chairman? The NAB chairman should appear before parliament, Mr Zardari said in an apparent reference to a move by some opposition members to write a letter to NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal, seeking an appointment with him to discuss alleged one-sided actions of the bureau against the opposition members.
`I have faced many NABs and will continue to face them,` the PPP leader said, adding that he was concerned about the time when members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) would be summoned by the bureau.
`The real issue is that what will happen when you are summoned (by NAB)?` he asked with a meaningful smile, addressing the treasury benches.
Mr Zardari asked the government to `tighten` NAB in order to reduce the prevailing `insecurity` among bureaucrats as `a federal secretary is not even ready to sign a file`.
`Nowadays I and my family are facing JIT (Joint Investigation Team). Thanks to the Supreme Court,` he said in an apparent reference to a recent report of the JIT constituted by the Supreme Court to probe the fake bank accounts case against him and his sister Faryal Talpur. He termed the formation of the JIT `uncalled for`, saying the JIT having people from the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) was `above the law`.
Referring to the SC decision of upholding the Islamabad High Court`s verdict suspending the sentence of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz in the Avenfield reference, Mr Zardari said they were happy to see Nawaz Sharif getting relief.
He also severely criticised the government`s economic policies and warned that the country was sliding towards becoming a `f ailed state`.
`Considering the financial situation at present and the way decisions are being taken arbitrarily… the country cannot be managed in this manner,` the former president said, adding that no foreign power, be it China or any other country, could save Pakistan `once it starts its journey towards becoming a failed state`.
`I don`t know how long your government will last. We will not bring down your government, you will fall on your own,` he said while looking towards the front treasury benches.
Earlier, when Mr Zardari entered the hall amidst desk thumping by the opposition members, Shahbaz Sharif went to him and had a hand shake.
Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif questioned the government`s move to award the contract for the Rs 309 billion Mohmand dam project to Descon a company owned by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood and termed it an issue of `conflict of interest`.
He said that though the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules allowed the award of contracts on a single bid basis with certain conditions, the manner in which the contract had been awarded put question marks on the entire procedure.
`What was the urgency in awarding the contract? Why was rebidding not done?`Mr Sharif, who is also president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, claimed that the previous PML-N government had resolved the energy crisis by taking a number of steps on a war footing basis which resulted in the elimination of worst loadshedding from the country. He regretted that due to the PTI government`s `negligence and incompetence`, the country was again facing the energy crisis. TheDAWN