ISLAMABAD - Former chairman Senate and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) stalwart Raza Rabbani Friday in the Senate sought amendment in the existing law that governs the National Accountability Bureau to curtail discretionary powers of chairman of the anti-corruption watchdog.

PPP Senator Raza Rabbani taking part in the debate on the presidential address to the joint sitting of the parliament said that the politicians, judiciary, executive and bureaucracy should be subject to accountability at a single platform. He also said that foreign policy of the country should be decided by the parliament.

Quoting the recent remarks of the Supreme Court that provisions of pleas bargain and the discretionary powers of chairman NAB should be excluded from the NAB law, he demanded that NAB law should be amended. “We have lost an earlier opportunity to amend this law and I would say to the government to make amendments in it curtailing the discretionary powers of chairman NAB,” he said and feared that otherwise the apex court would strike down the law.

The PPP lawmaker also sought that every high court should have a bench which should look into highhandedness of NAB during the investigation that is going on.

“When accountability is used as a tool to forward certain political agenda, its results are adverse,” he said while commenting on the crackdown of NAB against the politicians and some of the bureaucrats and an outcry of the political parties of the arrests.

“If someone is corrupt, he should be punished, but this punishment should be only when there is across the board accountability and not selective one,” he said.

Quoting the foreign minister, he said the Parliament was being kept in the dark regarding foreign policy issues. He said that all sensitive matters could be discussed in in-camera sessions if these could not be debated openly. “Nothing could be concealed from the parliament,” he said. He also demanded that National Security Committee of the parliament should be established.

He proposed that people’s truth and reconciliation commission should be formed whose purpose should not be to humiliate anyone but at least the state should compensate those with whom injustices were made by it in the past. He said that it was essentially to set the right direction of the state that students unions should be revived and trade unions should be allowed to grow. “The state is playing a dangerous play by bringing the vice chancellors of the universities in chains,” he said

Rabbani said that the state was standing at a critical juncture and they all have to save it. “God forbid if some happened with the state and then no one from us will be able to exist.”

“Institutions become stronger when constitutional requirements are fulfilled and parliament is the mother of state institutions,” he said adding that the there was no coordination between the constitutional institutions. He lamented that the parliament is being made dysfunctional though all institutions are answerable to parliament

Commenting on the critics of the 18th amendment, he said that pseudo-intellectuals now-a-days used to say that Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was in favour of presidential system. “Quaid had talked about parliamentary system,” he said and added that they now were being taught that there is a need to review 18th amendment.

He further that at some times, an effort was made to disintegrate the political parties forcefully and forward blocks were made out of them but the experiences remained bitter.

Former opposition leader and PPP Senator Sherry Rehman also said that there should be across the board accountability. While giving a reference to the alleged fake accounts cases against her party leader and former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sibling Faryal Talpur, she while quoting media reports said that Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Accountability Shahzad Akbar met with the members of JIT in fake accounts in some FIA office at night where witnesses to the case were summoned only a day before Zardari had to appear before the court for confirmation of his bail. “A conspiracy is being hatched…a victimization is underway in the guise of accountability,” she said. She sought from the government to clarify whether special visited FIA office at night or not and also protested that not a single minister or government representative was sitting in the house. The chair adjourned the house early soon she launched the protest.

Earlier, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) Usman Kakar also taking part in the debate said that a cleansing operation was underway against the politicians and their reputation was being damaged. The parliament should take notice of the situation and it should decide the internal and foreign policies of the country, he asserted.