PML-N sees PTI’s hand in NAB tapes scandal

Published: May 25, 2019
Former prime minister and PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Former prime minister and PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD /LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has hinted at the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s possible role in a scandal surrounding audio-video clips of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman’s alleged conversation with a woman and has called for a parliamentary inquiry.

“Taher A Khan [owner of private news channel that aired the controversial clips only to retract them later with an apology] is an adviser and friend of the prime minister [Imran Khan],” the PML-N’s Senior Vice President Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said on Friday.

“We did not get justice but we want that NAB chairman [Javed Iqbal] gets justice. As per rule 244b of National Assembly, a committee should be formed for investigation into the matter pertaining to NAB chairman and those involved should be exposed before the public,” he added. Abbasi was addressing a press conference in Islamabad along with Murtaza Javed Abbasi and other PML N leaders.

The PML-N leader said NAB chairman in a recent interview said he was being pressurised due to which he had to travel secretly. Javed Iqbal had said he had been forced not to take action against government’s corruption but had evidence that could derail the government.

He said the channel which aired the recording is owned by an adviser and friend of the prime minister.

“Taher A Khan had provided funds for the PTI for election and also launched its media campaign. The matter leads to the prime minister. The PM House is responsible for the whole matter,” he added.

Abbasi said his party has reservations against NAB from the first one as it believes that the government is using the institution for political vendetta against the opposition and to hide its corruption.

“It appears that NAB chairman is being forced to take action against the opposition. The matters have aggravated. The matter concerns NAB chairman, the PM House and the prime minister and his adviser.

“If the matter concerns the entire country, the parliament is responsible to arrive at a solution. The parliamentary forum is the only way to discuss pressure on NAB.”

He said the opposition leader should run a movement as per rule 244b of the National Assembly. If the government flees from the committee, it will prove that something is wrong, he added.

The Pakistan Peoples Party, however, demanded a forensic investigation of the reported audio and video tapes relating to NAB chairman ‘so that people may know facts’.

The PPP leader Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan while addressing a press conference at the PPP office in Lahore said the tapes have tarnished NAB chief’s moral position but they do not affect his legal position.

“It appears that the woman has trapped NAB chairman,” Ahsan said, adding that judges of the country had developed the habit of speaking too much and this is why NAB chairman in his earlier briefing to media said that he did not want to see the government to derail.

“By making such statements, NAB chairman has proved his biases and partiality. The voice in the tapes apparently sounds like the voice of NAB chairman but until the claim is concretely established, he should be given benefit of doubt.

“For this purpose, we need to have a forensic audit of the tapes through the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). [PML-N President] Shehbaz Sharif has called for forgetting the matter but this is not just a personal matter of NAB chairman as these things have reportedly happened in his government office.”

Another PPP leader Khursheed Shah said NAB chairman Javed Iqbal does not deserve to stay on the post.  “He has become a controversial figure,” Shah said while speaking to journalists in Islamabad.

“The chief justice keeps saying that the NAB has not been functioning properly. The head should quit if people start questioning integrity of some institution,” he added, according to a media report.

News One, a private news channel, was left red-faced on Thursday and had to tender a public apology after NAB denied a story aired by the channel showing a purported conversation of the NAB chairman with an unnamed woman.

The NAB rejected in a statement the report about NAB Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal, saying that all such reports are baseless, contrary to facts, fabricated and part of a false propaganda.

“This is work of a group of blackmailer, who want to tarnish reputation of NAB and its chairman. Disregarding all the pressure and blackmailing, NAB has not only arrested two members of the group but also approved a reference against them,” said a handwritten statement issued on Thursday night.

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