Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – The federal government will enforce an ordinance by Saturday midnight to disbar for life the beneficiaries of National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) plea bargain and voluntary return laws.

All the public office holders and government servants who have benefited from the NAB plea bargains will be disqualified for life from Jan 8, 2017.

The new ordinance will presented to the Senate and parliament on Monday.

“The Supreme Court had asked the government for its stance on the plea bargain law,” Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said while speaking during a press conference on Saturday. “We had to draw the line somewhere.”

Law Minister Zahid Hamid, who was also present at the press conference, said the government was facing criticism for not disqualifying public office holders and government servants from office if they opted for plea bargain.

“Voluntary return and plea bargain provisions have now both been merged,” Hamid said while explaining the new law.

“Elimination of corruption is the motto of PML-N,” he said, adding that all over the world, a corrupt official is declared as ineligible for a prescribed time period but in Pakistan it will be for life time.

“In both cases, an individual who wants to return the amounts embezzled will require court approval and will be deemed to be convicted; if he is a holder of public office, he will be dismissed and disqualified from holding that public office for life,” the law minister explained, adding that the same would apply to government servants.

Ishaq Dar further noted that there had been considerable criticism from civil society, the political opposition and judiciary on Section 25-A of the NAB Ordinance, which allowed corrupt individuals to return to their posts after making a plea bargain with NAB.

To a question whether this change in law can be applied to past cases, Ishaq Dar said: “The law cannot apply to past cases. It is applicable either effective immediately or on future cases.”

He informed the media that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has approved amendment to Section 25 of NAB ordinance that is regarding the plea bargain.