Contrary to media reports and statements by its officials, the country’s premier anti-graft watchdog says it is not conducting investigation against any minister in Balochistan’s deposed cabinet.
This comes amidst reports that a new coalition government is likely to be cobbled together in the province.
The spokesperson for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Zafar Iqbal, admitted that the watchdog had received complaints of alleged misuse of funds against four or five former ministers of Balochistan.
“The complaints are being verified … NAB will definitely initiate proceedings if it finds credible evidence,” he told The Express Tribune. “The fact, however, is that there are no pending cases with NAB against any of them at this stage,” he added.
Iqbal’s comments contradict an earlier statement of NAB Regional Director Major (retd) Burhan Ali who had claimed two months ago that the bureau was investigating complaints of misuse of funds by six ministers.
The then provincial cabinet had taken serious notice of Ali’s statement and termed it a conspiracy against the elected government of chief minister Nawab Aslam Raisani.
A media report, citing sources, has claimed investigations against as many as 16 ministers had been launched after obtaining enough evidence. These included former ministers for communications, health, education, finance, food, excise and taxation, Balochistan Development Authority, industry, revenue, zakat and agriculture.
A senior Balochistan government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that NAB was investigating corruption charges against at least 16 ministers.
The official added that investigations against another 12 former ministers were also expected to be started soon.
Former provincial minister for revenue Zumrak Khan claimed that NAB was in the process of registering cases against certain former ministers.
However, he claimed that the bureau did not want to create an impression that the former ministers were being victimised at a time when political maneuvering to restore the Balochistan government was about to reach its logical conclusion. Zumrak believes NAB will proceed on all those cases once the provincial assembly has been dissolved.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2013.