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ISLAMABAD: Amid uproar by the Opposition, the Senate on Friday passed the National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which provides for extension in the tenure of prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Minister of Law and Justice Farogh Naseem piloted the bill in the Upper House.

“This bill is being passed for everyone across the board, not for a single person,” he stated.

Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill says, section 8 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 (XVII of 1999) provides that the President of Pakistan, in consultation with Chairman NAB, may appoint any person, who is qualified to be appointed as a judge of Supreme Court, as Prosecutor General Accountability for a term of three years.

To amend this provision, so that the appointment of prosecutor general becomes less restrictive, the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 has been made and promulgated by the President under Article 89 (1) of the Constitution.

During the session chaired by speaker Sadiq Sanjrani, the opposition parties recorded their protest and chanted slogans against the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). They also tore the copies of the agenda and demanded to bring the bills to the committees.

Meanwhile, the House also passed the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill, 2021 aimed at authorizing the government to establish a commission for the protection of journalists and media professionals.

Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari moved the bill in the House. Under the bill, the independent commission will inquire into complaints against threats or acts of torture, killing, violent attacks, forced disappearance and arbitrary arrests. The reports of the commission would be laid before the parliament through the Ministry of Human Rights.

The bill would enable to actively investigate, prosecute and punish acts of violence and any threats to journalists providing protection of their lives.

According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons, the protection and promotion of the rights of journalists and media professionals is central to the safeguarding of the right to freedom of expression.

In fact, the International Federation of Journalists has emphasized, “ the work of a free, independent and impartial press constitutes one of the basic foundations of a democratic society”.

There is, therefore, an urgent need to ensure accountability for all forms of threats, coercion and violence against journalists and media professionals.

According to Radio Pakistan, the Higher Education Commission (Amendment) Bill 2021 and the Higher Education Commission (Second Amendment) Bill 2021 were also passed during today's session.