ISLAMABAD: Without caring for the ongoing controversy surrounding his appointment, Justice (retd) Syed Deedar Hussain Shah, the newly-appointed chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), assumed charge of his office on Saturday.
Later, he presided over a meeting of senior officials, urging them to “work diligently, honestly and according to the law to ensure fair accountability”.
Mr Shah assured the officials that he would make all efforts to eradicate corruption.
On its part, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) moved to clarify its stance on the matter by releasing to the media copies of two letters written by Opposition Leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to the prime minister two weeks ago in which he had opposed the government’s proposals to name either Deedar Hussain Shah or Justice (retd) Mukhtar Junejo as NAB chief.
The PML-N has already threatened to challenge Mr Shah’s appointment in the Supreme Court. President Asif Zardari appointed Mr Shah as NAB chairman on Friday — just two days before the expiry of the second deadline set by the Supreme Court to fill the post which had been lying vacant for the past three months.
The letters reveal that the prime minister had first telephoned the opposition leader on Sept 22 to seek his views on the government’s proposal to appoint Mr Junejo.
On Sept 24 Mr Gilani again phoned Chaudhry Nisar to take him into confidence over a proposal to appoint Mr Shah as head of the institution.
Through the letters, Chaudhry Nisar dismissed both nominations as “unsuitable”. He even went to the extent of questioning their “neutrality and fairness” due to their past role in politics and also as judges.“…the gentleman is not suitable for the post as he has actively participated in party politics and has twice served as a member of the Sindh Assembly from Nov 30, 1988, to Aug 8, 1990, and again from Nov 4, 1990, to July 19, 1993, thereby raising questions about his impartiality,” the Leader of Opposition wrote while vetoing the choice of Mr Shah.
About Mr Junejo, Chaudhry Nisar wrote: “His record of judicial service has also been controversial.”
Chaudhry Nisar suggested to the prime minister that “a list of possible candidates for the post be drawn up mutually, in the first instance, which can then be discussed in detail through a participatory consultative process”.
The opposition leader attached a copy of a clause of the Charter of Democracy, signed by former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif in May 2006, calling for replacement of the “politically-motivated NAB with an independent accountability commission, whose chairman shall be nominated by the prime minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition and confirmed by a joint parliamentary committee” having equal representation from the treasury and opposition benches.
While rejecting Mr Shah’s appointment as he was a “PPP activist”, the PML-N had on Friday termed the move against the spirit of the Charter of Democracy. Moreover, the PML-N leaders said, the former judge had even defended President Zardari in corruption cases as his lawyer.