RAWALPINDI -  Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah have agreed on Chaudhry Qamar Zaman to be head of the National Accountability Bureau.

NAB has been rudderless for over three months since the ouster of its previous chief. Progress on several key cases, including those related to PPP bigwig Asif Zardari and N’s president Nawaz Sharif, has been in a limbo ever since. Some had viewed the delay in reaching a consensus on a nominee as a way to delay investigations.

Zaman, who has been holding the slot of federal interior secretary since 2009 and is set to retire on February 20 next year, is known for his competence and neutrality. Since he is quite straightforward, he had remained in hot waters for some time during PPP’s previous government. Zaman had also worked as education secretary.

Sources in the ruling party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, told The Nation that the name of Zaman had been floated by the prime minister and that the opposition leader just okayed it, breaking the impasse on who would be filling the key position.

According to sources, a formal notification about the appointment will be issued shortly. But before moving forward, both the government and opposition will take the other parliamentary parties into confidence. As of now neither the government nor the major opposition group – Pakistan People’s Party – had taken the other parties in Parliament into confidence about putting Chaudhry Zaman in charge of the National Accountability Bureau, added sources.

“Since the name has already been decided, consultations with other parties would be mere eyewash. Changing nominee on their demand is something that has a remote chance,” a senior parliamentarian said commenting on the development.

Khursheed Shah meanwhile confirmed he gave his consent to the premier’s choice. He said Nawaz Sharif phoned him up today [Tuesday] and proposed the name of Chaudhry Zaman.

The opposition leader further said he earlier held five meetings with Nawaz Sharif in which various names came up from both the sides, but consensus could not be evolved.

Shah, to a question, said although he had spoken to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Dr Farooq Sattar to have their input over the matter, there was no formal reply from either side.

Shah hoped Chaudhry Zaman would play an active role in weeding out corruption and making the National Accountability Bureau an efficient entity.

According to sources, Zaman enjoys warm and cordial relations with both PML-N and PPP.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf spokesperson Dr Shireen Mazari rejected Zaman as NAB chairman, branding him as a stooge in the hands of the two leading parties.

She rejected Khursheed Shah’s claim that her party had been contacted about the matter. “No contact was made whatsoever.” She said they would utilise all legal and constitutional means to oppose this appointment what she called ‘mukmuka’ (a deal) between two major political players in the Parliament.

Online adds: Federal Information and Broadcasting minister Pervaiz Rashid has expressed his satisfaction over consensus on new NAB chief, maintaining that it has ended all the speculations, rumours surrounding the issue.

The former NAB chairman Admiral (Retd) Fasih Bokhari was shown the door after the Supreme Court had declared his appointment was made “without lawful authority”. Former president Asif Ali Zardari later authorised the dismissal of Fasih as chairman NAB.  The presidential spokesman has said in a statement issued at that time that the President undersigned a summary to this effect on the advice of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“In the light of the decision of the Supreme Court, Ministry of Law and Justice proposed to the Prime Minister to advise the President to terminate the said appointment from the date when the Court passed the judgment”, the statement had said.

The summary of Ministry of Law & Justice stated that the Supreme Court of Pakistan in its judgment dated 28-05-2013 declared the appointment of Admiral (Retd) Fasih Bokhari, as Chairman NAB, to be without lawful authority and was set aside with immediate effect.

“His termination had been approved with effect from the date of Judgment of Supreme Court of Pakistan in Constitution petition No. 73 of 2011”, it added.

The chairman NAB (Fasih), the summary further states, had filed review petition against the order but the operation of the said order had not been suspended.

Earlier, Fasih had moved the Supreme Court to stop the government from appointing a new NAB chief.