ISLAMABAD: Although the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has recommended filing a NAB reference against the prime minister and his children, its [JIT’s] own findings portray the anti-corruption watchdog’s performance as dismal.
JIT’s analysis of the statement of NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, who testified before the team on July 5, states, “Despite the fact that all the cases against [the] Sharif family were initiated in 1999-2000, but since the beginning, except filing four references [in 1999-2000], no serious efforts have ever been made regarding the rest of the cases by the successive NAB authorities. In fact, most of the time these cases remained dormant or pending on one pretext or the other.”
Chaudhry had told the JIT that when he assumed the charge, some 285 cases – related to politicians – were pending with the bureau, of which 21 were related to Nawaz Sharif and his family.
“The cases  related to Nawaz Sharif and [his] family were pending right from the beginning due to the reason that the accused persons were not available in the country and their stance regarding the matters under investigation could not have been taken,” he informed the JIT.
The JIT analysed that even primary allegations on which the Supreme Court had taken cognisance of the Panamagate case, that is the ownership of Avenfield properties, were very much the same on which an investigation had been authorised by NAB some 17 years ago in 2000.
The NAB chairman informed the JIT that when he took over in 2013, he had finalised an SOP regarding completion of pending NAB cases within 10 months. But the JIT stated, “Apparently, the cases against the Sharif family remained beyond the scope of that SOP.”
The NAB chairman also told the JIT that in the Avenfield properties case neither have summons ever been issued to the owners of the property, nor has the Sharif family ever been contacted to get the basic information about it.
The JIT also questioned the NAB chairman: Why were no appeals filed regarding quashing of the Hudabiya Paper Mills case, wilful loan default of Ittefaq Foundries and Raiwind estate by the Lahore High Court?
To that the NAB chairman replied that as per the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, the office of the Prosecutor General Accountability (PGA) is an independent office and as per sections 8 and 32, the advice of the PGA is binding upon him [the NAB chairman].
To that, the JIT noted: “The bare perusal of these sections [sections 8 and 32] of the NAO 1999 nowhere describe the advice of the PGA as binding and thus does not bar the NAB chairman to act against the advice of the PGA.”
The JIT concluded that “even after highlighting of the Panama issue in the media and cognisance by the Supreme Court, the basic information has even been collected [by NAB] till to-date, rather on the pretext of the Panama case, these investigations against the Sharif family have been allowed to remain on the backburner.”
According to the JIT, it can be concluded that NAB is not actively pursuing the cases, and matters are being delayed on flimsy pretexts, right from day one.