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‘Black day’: President Alvi rejects bill amending NAB Ordinance

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  • “With deep discomfort, I state that my conscience does not allow me to sign this bill,” President Alvi says.
  • Says proposed changes will “demolish accountability”, creating a “façade of justice” that blatantly hides a corrupt elite capture.
  • Imran Khan says today is “black day” as “imported govt of crooks” amended NAB law.

ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi on Monday rejected a bill amending the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Ordinance due to the “flaws in its implementation”.

According to a statement released on the official Twitter handle of the President of Pakistan, Alvi said that as conceived originally, the bill took inspiration from “Hazrat Umar’s incident” when asked about the source of extra cloth in his cloak. “The onus in financial crimes is on the accused to provide a money trail,” the statement read.

“Unfortunately, there were flaws in NAB’s implementation. It was misused for political exigencies by those in power [and] by vested interests,” the president said.

He also reiterated that the public clamoured for the return of the nation’s looted wealth, but long judicial processes and poor prosecution failed most efforts. 

“Instead of improving the law to avoid miscarriage, to close loopholes [and] make it stronger, we are weakening it beyond recognition,” the statement read.

According to the president, the proposed changes will “demolish accountability”, creating a “façade of justice” that blatantly hides a corrupt elite capture ensuring the exploitation of the common man in an unjust society.

The president said that the poor will continue to be jailed for petty crimes while the corrupt rich will be free to loot and plunder. 

He said: “I personally abide by the Constitution, we must act upon injunctions of the Quran and Sunnah, and above all, I am answerable to Allah asking for His forgiveness.

“Therefore, with deep discomfort and pain, I state that my conscience does not allow me to sign this Bill.”

He added that “weak accountability is against the basic rights of the people of Pakistan who are the suffering masses, and, therefore, it is also against the fundamentals of the Constitution,” he added

The president acknowledged that he was aware of the fact, in view of the ‘deeming’ provision under Article 75 (2) of the Constitution of Pakistan, that the NAB (Amendment), 2022 will be enacted into law even if the President of Pakistan does not sign the bill.

‘White-collar criminals’

Meanwhile, taking to his Twitter handle former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan said today was a “Black Day” in Pakistan’s history as “imported government of crooks” amended NAB law comes in ending accountability.

“Entire economy and political system of Pakistan was derailed through US-backed regime change conspiracy simply to give this cabal of crooks another NRO,” he said, adding that PML-N leader Khurram Dastagir confirmed this.

Earlier, during an interview with a private channel, Dastagir had admitted that they [the coalition government leaders] knew that there would be disqualifications on a massive level by the end of this year [if things continued in line with Imran Khan’s plans].

The PTI chairman further noted that at a time when Pakistan’s economy had stabilised and was moving towards sustainable growth of 6%, the conspirators chose to destabilise Pakistan by sending the economy into a tailspin and dropping a price bomb on people — “just to give these criminals NRO”.

“Our Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) had said societies are destroyed when the poor are jailed while the rich are not held accountable. Today, with this amended NAB law, we are heading towards destruction by removing white-collar criminals from accountability,” he added.

The ousted prime minister pointed out that Rs1,100 billion of the Rs1,200 billion that was being investigated by NAB will now be out of NAB’s jurisdiction, giving this “criminal mafia their NRO.

“History will neither forget nor forgive all those who were part of [and] enabled this conspiracy against Pakistan to succeed,” he concluded.

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government contests Imran Khan and Qureshi’s exoneration in the cipher case

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On Thursday, the federal government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court contesting the exoneration of former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and former Prime Minister Imran Khan in the well-known cipher case.

Citing procedural and jurisdictional issues, the Ministry of Interior has appealed the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) ruling.

In hearing the cipher case, the High Court allegedly overreached its power, arguing that judges cannot change laws where Parliament has not expressly passed legislation.

Despite receiving government-funded legal representation, the petition emphasized Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s lack of cooperation during the trial, submitting 65 separate motions and neglecting to cross-examine witnesses.

The petition contended that in order for a retrial to satisfy legal standards, the High Court should have ignored important evidence that was given during the trial. It requests that the appeals contesting the IHC’s June 3 acquittal be given a hearing date by the Supreme Court.

Case history

The cipher issue concerns a supposed diplomatic document that disappeared from Imran Khan’s custody. The cipher allegedly contained threats from the US to remove Khan from office, according to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Shah Mehmood Qureshi and several aides, including Asad Umar, are named in the First Information Report (FIR) submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in accordance with Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act.

The then-foreign secretary received a diplomatic cipher from Washington on March 7, 2022, according to the FIR. The lawsuit claims that by manipulating the data for their own benefit, Khan and Qureshi put the safety of the country at risk. It alleges that on March 28, 2022, Khan secretly met at his Bani Gala home and gave his Principal Secretary, Muhammad Azam Khan, instructions to change the content of the cipher to his advantage, jeopardizing national security.

The document asserts that Khan still has custody of the cipher, jeopardizing Pakistan’s encrypted messaging systems and possibly helping foreign forces, which would be detrimental to the nation. A complaint has been filed by the FIA’s Anti-Terrorism Wing against Khan, Qureshi, and other individuals for improper use of state secrets and unapproved possession of the cipher.

Acquittal by the Islamabad High Court

In the cipher case, on June 3, the IHC cleared Khan and Qureshi when Justice Aamir Farooq issued a succinct ruling in their favor. Their sentences were appealed in the case, which has since been a source of political and legal controversy, leading to their acquittal.

This acquittal and the ongoing legal and political struggles surrounding the cipher case are highlighted by the government’s subsequent move to contest it.

With potentially huge ramifications for the parties involved and the larger political scene, the Supreme Court’s decision over whether to hear the appeal will be keenly scrutinized.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi urges political stability in order to accelerate economic expansion.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former prime minister, emphasized on Thursday how important political stability is to Pakistan’s economic development and how the nation cannot prosper without it.

His concern was that export growth had not progressed, and he emphasized that stability in the current climate is vital to draw investments and carry out the necessary reforms.

In his criticism of the tax system, Abbasi brought up the erratic nature of tax laws and the transient nature of the most recent tax slab implementation. Insisting that difficult choices are unavoidable for economic recovery, he emphasized the necessity of designing a tax system that is equitable and does not burden the people.

Furthermore, arguing that the effectiveness of organizations like the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is essential for economic governance and transparency, Abbasi urged for changes within these and other organizations.

Abbasi, in his discussion of more comprehensive fiscal plans, suggested that the National Finance Commission (NFC) award be reviewed again and that power distribution companies (DISCOs) be decentralized to the provinces.

In order to reduce inefficiencies and corruption at the provincial level, he recommended looking into ways to share the cost of defense spending and decentralize the management of energy resources.

In closing, Abbasi emphasized that Pakistan’s economic trajectory will stay stagnant unless comprehensive changes are implemented immediately. To move the nation towards sustainable progress, he urged policymakers to give stability and structural reforms first priority.

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Through in-app QR payments, Zindigi and SBP streamline transactions involving sacrificial animals.

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With its in-app QR code payment system based on Raast, Zindigi—powered by JS Bank—has elevated the convenience of cashless payments for the procurement of sacrificial animals to a whole new level for Eid ul Adha.

This program uses QR code payments to streamline transactions for sacrificed animals for the general public and traders. It is a component of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Raast quick payment service.

This feature enables users of Zindigi and users of any digital banking apps or wallets to safely and easily make payments at certain cattle markets throughout Pakistan using Zindigi QR. The consumer must scan the QR code of the livestock merchant and pay the transaction amount in order to complete the payment.

In order to further financial inclusion and digital innovation in Pakistan’s developing economy, Zindigi and the State Bank of Pakistan have partnered. Both organizations are committed to improving the efficiency and accessibility of financial services, especially on holidays such as Eid ul Adha, by utilizing the most recent developments in fintech.

One of the most important steps toward promoting financial inclusion and economic empowerment at the local level is the integration of livestock markets into the digital economy. Farmers and retailers may take charge of their financial operations and help realize the larger goal of an inclusive digital Pakistan by adopting digital payments.

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