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In sudden move, NAB’s top lawyer quits

NAB’s top lawyer quits

ISLAMABAD: While the Supreme Court is expected to announce next week its judgement in a case challenging amendments made by the previous PDM government to the National Accountability Ordinance, NAB Prosecutor General Asghar Haider tendered his resignation on Saturday.

During the last hearing by a three-member SC bench, Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial while alluding to the expected judgement had said, “We will soon announce a short and sweet verdict of the case”.

Since CJP Bandial is going to retire on Sept 16, which is Saturday, the apex court is likely to announce the order latest by Friday.

Though there were speculations about the reason for his sudden resignation, Mr Haider termed his departure “quite normal”.

Asghar Haider says decision has nothing to do with CJP’s retirement next week; SC verdict in amendments case expected soon

It may be mentioned that Mr Haider was the only prosecutor general who was given extension for an entire second term.

He was appointed in January 2018 by the-then prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, while the PTI government extended his tenure through an ordinance.

Mr Haider, a former judge of the Lahore High Court, was removed from the LHC office for taking the oath under the Provisional Constitution Order promulgated by Gen Musharraf on Nov 3, 2007.

NAB law bars an extension in the tenure of prosecutor general. Section 8(a)(iii) of the National Accountability Ordinance said, “The Prosecutor General Accountability shall hold office for a [non-extendable] period of three years.”

Sources said Mr Haider is a close friend of the CJP, who will be retiring next week.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Haider confirmed that Justice Bandial is his friend, but added that the reason for his resignation was entirely different.

He said the NAO, which governs NAB, defines certain qualifications for the prosecutor general.

Section 8 of the NAO states: “The President of Pakistan, in consultation with the Chairman NAB, may appoint any person, who is qualified to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court, as Prosecutor General Accountability.”

Mr Haider said that since an SC judge retires at the age of 65, therefore, he believes that the same criteria is applicable to the PG as well.

Mr Haider turned 65 on July 21. He said he was considering resigning for last three months.

The outgoing PG said he had informed the relevant authorities about his decision, However, the interpretation of age-limit by NAB was different. NAB was of the view that there is no upper age-limit for the superannuation of PG, he added.

When asked if he resigned because he was reluctant to sign the upcoming references against PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Mr Haider replied in the negative.

NAB is investigating two cases against Mr Khan — one related to 190 million pounds corruption and other is related to the Toshakhana gifts.

As per the relevant law, the NAB chairman may assign the PG charge to any additional prosecutor general (APG).

Sources claimed APG Akbar Tarar may be given the PG charge. Mr Tarar has been working in the bureau for about 15 years.

Sources said that in case the SC set aside the amendments, the cases returned to NAB by the accountability courts would be re-opened.

The amendment clipped the NAB’s wings by proposing that all cases involving an amount below Rs500 million would not come under its purview.

In an amendment to Section 19E, NAB’s authority to allow surveillance with the help of a high court has been withdrawn.

Moreover, NAB cannot take cognisance of the cases which may come under the ambit of other investigation agencies.

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