ISLAMABAD: Two opposition lawmakers have tendered resignations from a parliamentary panel in protest against summoning head of the accountability watchdog to quiz him for starting a probe into deposed premier Nawaz Sharif’s alleged money laundering on basis of a news report.
The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice on Tuesday summoned the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Javed Iqbal to appear before it today [Wednesday] in connection with a NAB’s press release which said it will investigate Sharif’s alleged money laundering.
Protesting this move, the committee’s members from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Naveed Qamar and Shagufta Jumani tendered resignations from the membership of panel.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Qamar confirmed his resignation. “We believe this is interference in the functioning of NAB and we are strongly opposed to interference in the matters of other state institutions,” he said.
The PPP leader accused the NA panel of trying to take advantage of their absence in today’s meeting to unilaterally grill NAB chairman since both the PPP leaders are out of city. “They knew that we would be out of town on Wednesday which is why they summoned NAB chief on this day to grill him unilaterally.”
The NAB chief has been summoned in ‘personal capacity’ to explain his stance on the matter.
The NA panel considered a Point of Order – raised by MNA Rana Hayat Khan – which was referred to the committee on Tuesday in connection with a press release dated May 8 and 9 issued by NAB regarding “allegation levelled by NAB for money laundering of $ 4.9 billion by Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif former Prime Minister of Pakistan.”
The NA Standing Committee on Law and Justice is headed by PML-N’s Chaudhry Ashraf. Earlier on Friday, a top-level ‘informal’ huddle of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) demanded resignation of NAB chairman and vowed to take legal steps to ‘take him to task’.
A statement of the PML-N said the party ‘Quaid’ Nawaz Sharif chaired the meeting in the backdrop of NAB press release in which the anti-corruption watchdog said it took notice of a column that appeared in an Urdu daily on February 1, 2018, suggesting that Sharif, his aides laundered $ 4.9 billion to India.
The column cited a World Bank report to accuse Sharif of money-laundering. The NAB said it launched probe into alleged money laundering citing the said column.
However, the same day when the NAB’s presser came, the WB issued a statement to deny that its report from 2016 levelled money-laundering allegations against the former PM. Since then, the accountability watchdog has been under fire.
“Everyone involved in this lie would not only be exposed but all the options would be exercised to get them punished through legal means. We would foil every conspiracy against our leader Nawaz Sharif and continue to wage legal, constitutional and democratic struggle till we wipe out all the stains of falsehood,” said a strong-worded statement issued after the PML-N meeting.
In response to serious allegations levelled by Sharif and his party, NAB issued a rejoinder to reject these allegations as false and baseless. “NAB outrightly rejects the impression of revenge or hurting anyone as NAB does not believe in revenge and is determined to eliminate corruption without any discrimination.”
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi lambasted NAB for issuing press release regarding inquiry into Sharif’s alleged money laundering and requested Speaker NA Ayaz Sadiq to constitute a special committee to summon the NAB chairman and seek an explanation.
Meanwhile, the NA panel is expected to pass a related draft bill for the merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.