In its first meeting, PAC calls NAB to explain delay in inquiries

Shehbaz Sharif decides to set up sub-committees to review PML-N related cases


Shahbaz Rana December 28, 2018
Shehbaz Sharif chairs PAC meeting. PHOTO:EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: In its first decision, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Friday decided to summon the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to explain a delay in finalising investigations in dozens of cases that the last two PACs had referred to the anti-corruption watchdog for an action.

The PAC Chairman Shehbaz Sharif took the decision after National Assembly’s PAC wing stated that dozens of cases referred to NAB by the last two committees were still unaddressed.

Shehbaz, who came to chair the PAC meeting from jail, decided to call NAB on Tuesday. Shehbaz, who is also leader of opposition in the NA, is also facing corruption charges levelled by NAB.

Sharifs gear up to rescue Shehbaz

It was the first decision taken by the 15th PAC of the Parliament in its very first meeting. The PAC secretariat gave a briefing on the performance of the last two PACs and the roles and responsibilities of the parliament’s most powerful body.

The 14th PAC (2013-18), which had been headed by Khursheed Shah of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), referred 168 cases to NAB and 68 cases to the Federal Investigation Agency for taking actions against those who caused losses to the public exchequer, the PAC secretary informed the committee.

The 13th PAC (2008-13), chaired by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, had referred 33 cases to NAB and 30 to the FIA. The PML-N’s Sheikh Rohail Asghar inquired about the outcomes of these cases.

The PAC wing secretary told the committee that so far 17 cases were at inquiry stage, 11 at investigation stage, 52 references were under trial and only 2 cases had been decided.  Shehbaz Sharif directed that NAB should give a briefing the next week.

“NAB appears to be very active nowadays but all its over-efficiencies are only limited to the political cases,” said Sheikh Rohail Asghar. The PPP’s MNA Hina Rabbani Khar was also ‘alarmed’ by slow progress on these cases.

But the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA Sardar Nasrullah Dareshk advised the PAC to go slow. “I am under an impression that the PAC is showing unusual haste in calling NAB, which can unnecessarily raise questions about the chairman,” said Dareshk.

The NAB representative said his department is ready to give an update on all the pending cases next week. The PPP’s Naveed Qamar suggested that the PAC should set deadlines for NAB to decide the cases being referred by the parliament’s accountability body.

The PAC wing secretary said Shah-led PAC recovered Rs355 billion and it partially examined seven years audit reports. Nisar-led PAC ensured Rs118 billion recoveries and completed the audit of 10 years.

During Nadeem Afaz Chan period who became chairman of the 13th PAC after resignation of Chaudhry Nisar, Rs31 billion worth of recoveries were ensured.

Shebaz -led PAC has eight years of workload in front of it and it has to take a decision on over 18,000 audit objections, being raised by the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP).

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Shehbaz decided to set up sub-committees to review the cases that will pertain to the period when his elder brother Nawaz Sharif was the prime minister to avoid conflict of interest. He requested members to work as one team by rising above their political affiliations to ensure effective accountability.

On the request of Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, former prime minister, the PAC also decided to take a briefing on the issue of penalties being imposed on Pakistan in Karkey power plant case, which was filed by a Turkish company in an international court of arbitration.

Won’t chair any meeting dealing PML-N

Earlier, Shehbaz said he would not chair any meeting of the committee dealing with any matter pertaining to the PML-N’s tenure.  Shehbaz commended services of Chaudhry Nisar and Khursheed Shah as PAC former chairmen and asked to present the fourteenth PAC report.

The committee decided that only officers of grade nineteen or above would brief the PAC. The meeting directed the AGP office to improve its performance. The AGP was also directed to ensure that there are no mistakes in its reports so that functioning of the committee could be more productive and efficient.

[WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM RAMEEZ KHAN IN LAHORE]

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