Seeking accountability: NAB springs into action

Published: May 18, 2012

The decision to initiate the inquiry against Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif came after President Asif Ali Zardari gave the green signal. PHOTO: TMN/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

After a period of stagnation, the infamous National Accountability Bureau (NAB) seems to have suddenly come back to life.

On one hand, Thursday saw NAB formally initiate an inquiry against the Sharif brothers in a money laundering case worth $32 million. Separately, NAB’s Balochistan director general said the bureau is investigating corruption charges levelled against two sitting federal ministers.

It was also revealed on Thursday that the Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and NAB Chairman Admiral (Retd) Fasih Bokhari had held a meeting on Wednesday to decide modalities of a joint investigation into the National Logistic Cell (NLC) scam.

Sharifs’ cases

“The president has directed NAB’s chairman to make sure that there should be no political victimisation in this case,” said the Bureau spokesperson Zafar Iqbal Khan on Thursday in his media briefing.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik had claimed on April 28 that he had documentary evidence of the corruption against the PML-N leadership and would refer them to the NAB. The federal government is the complainant in this reference, which also includes cases related to loan defaults worth Rs4.9 billion taken from nine different banks in the early ’90s.

When the spokesperson was asked if Malik is the complainant, he said, “I can only tell you that a formal inquiry has been initiated.” Malik had earlier claimed that he had evidence against Nawaz and Shahbaz siphoning off public funds worth $32 million.

“Investigators will proceed with the money laundering case against Sharif brothers on merit,” the spokesperson said adding, “There will be no political victimisation in this case.”

Meanwhile, PML-N Information Secretary Mushahidullah Khan rejected the allegations. “We are ready to face the inquiries. These are totally politically motivated inquiries,” he told The Express Tribune.

Presidential spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar refused to confirm or deny whether President Zardari had given a go-ahead to NAB to initiate these inquiries.

The reference received by investigators stated that the Sharif brothers on February 15, 1995, provided guarantee to pay on demand the Leasing Company any such due against the Hudabiya Paper Mills up to a maximum of $12.046 million together with all profits and charges. However, the paper mill failed to make the payment on the first due date or any date thereafter, Malik had alleged.

Swiss letter

Briefing the media, NAB’s spokesperson also went on to say that the bureau is waiting for fresh orders by the Supreme Court to write a letter to Swiss authorities for reopening graft cases against the president. “We wanted to write a letter… but the Supreme Court asked the attorney general of Pakistan to write this letter.”

NLC Scam

To a question regarding the National Logistic Cell scam, he said that the General Headquarter (GHQ) Rawalpindi was cooperating fully with NAB. He, however, made it clear that the bureau was only investigating the civilians involved in the multibillion rupee scam while all military men were being interrogated by the GHQ itself. It was revealed separately on Thursday that Gen Kayani and Admiral (Retd) Bokhari held a meeting on Wednesday regarding the NLC scam, involving three generals.

Officials said the military’s JAG branch and NAB’s Prosecutor General Accountability (PGA) would undertake the probe.

The investigations, according to the officials at NAB, would be carried out according to directives issued by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the parliamentary arm for accountability. There had been reports in the past that the military had refused to cooperate with NAB to conduct the probe. It was reported in March that the military authorities had turned down a request by NAB to share with it the details of the scam at NLC – an army-run transportation company.

RPP Scam

About the Rental Power Projects (RPP) accused, the spokesperson said that the bureau was in the process of reconciliation with political leaders involved in this mega scam. Investigations against two former ministers and a sitting minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, accused in the case, are going smoothly, he said.

In Balochistan

Over in Quetta, NAB’s Balochistan Director General (DG) Burhan Ali said the bureau is investigating corruption charges levelled against two sitting federal ministers under superior court directives. The NAB DG did not disclose the ministers’ names, however.

“Everyone knows their names,” he replied when asked about the names at a news conference on Thursday.

He said NAB is investigating different federal and provincial mega projects worth between Rs50-100 million.

He disclosed that NAB is investigating the misappropriation of funds in the Pasni fish harbour project. “Rs113 million were released for the Pasni fish harbor, while 80 per cent of the work on this project remains, according to initial inquiry.”

NAB is also investigating massive corruption in the education department. “Rs1 billion, allocated for school furniture, has reportedly been embezzled,” he said.

Responding to a query, the NAB DG confirmed large scale corruption in the Balochistan health department. “I do not know how this department is surviving because NAB receives daily complaints.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 18th, 2012.

Reader Comments (10)

  • Ch Allah Daad
    May 18, 2012 - 5:40AM

    PPP government diverting attention from their own corruption.

    Recommend

  • Billoo Bhaya
    May 18, 2012 - 5:41AM

    PML-N Information Secretary Mushahidullah Khan rejected the allegations. “We are ready to face the inquiries. These are totally politically motivated inquiries,”

    Don’t the words sound familiar??? That’s what Zardari his clone PM and the PPP has been saying for the last 15 years??? Except now it’s PML-N’s turn. They are all cast out the same block. Pakistanis need to break from the past and mount a revolution that will wipe all of them away. Become the reincarnation of Genghis Khan and create a new world.

    Recommend

  • jibran
    May 18, 2012 - 6:36AM

    dirty past of the Sharif’s is going to haunt him

    Recommend

  • YP Toronto
    May 18, 2012 - 7:26AM

    “Presidential spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar refused to confirm or deny whether President Zardari had given a go-ahead to NAB to initiate these inquiries.”

    Hasn’t President handed over powers to Prime Minister.

    Recommend

  • ihtisham
    May 18, 2012 - 7:46AM

    good move. if anybody is innocent, its cases should be droped for ever. But if somebody is guilty whether its pml(n) leadership or ppp it should be punished straightaway. after all its public money, thats been looted.

    Recommend

  • Mirza
    May 18, 2012 - 8:47AM

    For all those who are saying that these are the old cases and why bring them out is the same argument that they reject from PPP. All cases against PPP are initiated by their political enemies and none is proven in any court despite three decades of trial and jails. Now the shoe is on the other foot and they should know how it feels. The current administration is the only govt in Pakistan that does not have any political prisoners otherwise NS should remember he had PPP leaders in jail in their rule.

    Recommend

  • Iram
    May 18, 2012 - 8:49AM

    File of this case will be missing soon like that of file of Mehran bank scandal is missing. Sharif’s will assign this task to same person who performed this duty successfully for them in Mehran bank scandal.

    Recommend

  • butt jee
    May 18, 2012 - 3:17PM

    Sharifs claim that they had never indulged in money laundering. Now is the time they should prove their innocence by fighting the case in the court.

    Recommend

  • observer
    May 18, 2012 - 6:36PM

    and why were you sitting on the evidence for such a long time? By the way i personally dont believe in whatever you say.Recommend

  • Imtiaz
    May 18, 2012 - 11:21PM

    One should admit that at least PPP leaders have courage to appear before courts. They did not storm courts and respect institutions. But it seems that all are evil in PPP while people in establishment, PMLN, PTI and MQM are angles. One sided court decisions should a personal grudge of courts against PPP. The partisan courts have always targeted PPP in every era. PPP should revive Misaq e Jamohiryat, where there is NO concept of Supreme Court, but a federal court. Pakistan is NOT unitary system, it’s federation. Provincial courts should be made more powerful, devolve Supreme Court. Follow the charter of democracy. Don’t forget the case of Arslan chaudhri’s appointment in FIA and several others transgresses.Recommend

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