PAC ‘can grill Supreme Court, NAB’

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Noor Alam Khan on Wednesday revealed that the panel has seen a video showing former National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman Javed Iqbal making indecent gestures and harassing a woman as he asserted that the committee was empowered by law to question institutions involved in wrongdoings.

He said a public complaint from the affected party had been received following which they were called to appear before the panel.

“They showed us the video of the former NAB chairman, in which he was making some indecent conversations and gestures, so we summoned him,” the chairman said in the National Assembly.

He emphasised that the Constitution has empowered the PAC to question all institutions, including the Supreme Court, NAB and the Ministry of Defence about their performance.

Criticising the former NAB chief, Khan said it was deplorable that a person who held such an important position in the country was harassing women.

He said that Amna Janjua, a well-known leader working for missing persons, has also said that in the Missing Persons Commission, Javed Iqbal told a woman looking for her missing husband that “you are so beautiful, why do you need a husband”.

The PAC chief said that under the rules, the committee gave him the authority to call the woman seeking justice. "Should such a person be made the head of the Missing Persons Commission who is involved in harassing women; we should consider these things," he said.

He also said that the rich and powerful people in the country are involved in corruption. "They are not caught, only the poor are caught, then how will the country's economy recover?” he asked.

“Various mafias do not pay taxes and use the country's resources, if the country is being played with and I as the PAC chairman take notice, then what sin do I commit?” he wondered.

He called for all institutions to work for the country within their constitutional boundaries. “Courts can interpret the Constitution but making the Constitution is the job of the parliament, the courts cannot change the constitution,” he highlighted.

He further said that the constitution allows PAC to listen to public grievances. “I will cut off my head, but I will surely put a veil on the head of the country's sisters and daughters,” he added.

Khan said that if an officer can give the details of his assets, then why can't NAB officers do the same. “If the NAB officers were previously in the army, then do not give the assets of that period, but since the NAB officers have become civil officers after that, they should submit their assets to the Ministry of Law or the Establishment Division,” he remarked.

He said that the rules were violated in Mohmand Dam. “I want to investigate it, I will not compromise in any case, surely call the court and disqualify me, I will not back down,” he added.

“If I put my hands on car manufacturing companies and cigarette sellers, somebody puts in a word,” the PAC chief said.

He further said that NAB and the SC are not ready for accountability. “Summon me to court and send me to jail for six months,” he added.

The law minister should tell the courts what authority the constitution gives to the parliament. “All the institutions should stay within their limits, the courts should interpret the constitution, we can make the constitution, it is the power of the parliament to make the constitution,” he asserted.

'Negation of parliament's supremacy'

Defense Minister Khawaja Asif supported the points raised by the PAC chief Noor Alam Khan in the lower house and said that the exemption of institutions from accountability is a negation of the supremacy of the parliament, adding that this supremacy is vested in the parliament under the Constitution of Pakistan.

He said that the parliament should stand behind the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as it is the most influential committee of the house.

The minister said that it is a tradition all over the world that people who consider themselves “sacred cows” should be invited to the house.

He said that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) held him accountable and kept giving him “fake affidavits”. “Protecting the supremacy of this house is our constitutional responsibility,” he added.

Referring to former prime minister Imran Khan, he said that people who take prohibited funding compromise the protection of this institution and its supremacy. He said that those who accused the government of coming to power with America’s help kept taking money from India, Israel and America.

“A ruling should be given from the chair; if any of his actions are inconsistent with his position; if he has misused his position, whoever he is, should appear in the PAC,” he demanded.

Asif said that every individual should be accountable to the committees while recognising the supremacy of the parliament. “If other institutions can be held accountable, then why cannot NAB be held accountable? Is it an institution above the law? This series is dangerous and worrying for the existence of this country,” he remarked.

“This institution crossed the boundaries of injustice, imbalance and exploitation,” he went to lambast the anti-corruption body for its activities during the past four years.

He said that a constitutional institution caught the theft of a person, and he tells people that whoever does not stand with him will commit “Shirk”. He added that it is their responsibility to protect the religion and the sanctity of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).

“We have to strengthen the institution, we have to make it effective according to the constitution; it is the responsibility of this house, the government, the opposition, including the speaker; we will not protect it,” he added.

“If they do not make it effective, the supremacy of the parliament cannot be established,” Asif said. “If the parliament is supreme then the people of Pakistan will start getting justice.”

The defense minister said that the parliament should also present its performance for accountability. In 75 years, this institution was the most targeted, sometimes it was the target of dictatorship and sometimes 58 (2) B, he added.

He said that luckily no accident happened with this institution during the last 14 years.

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