NAB chairman rules out possibility of NRO-like agreement

Published: November 19, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal on Tuesday ruled out any possibility of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO)-like arrangements for the people convicted in corruption cases.

Speaking at a ceremony held to distribute awards among outstanding NAB officers, he said there would be no compromise on the accountability of the corrupt, as no threat, criticism or browbeating could deter him from performing his “national duty of eradication of corruption”.

Iqbal said that he had “no enmity or friendship or personal grudge” against anyone and assured that the accountability process would continue unabated. “NAB will continue to work in accordance with law and will take action on corruption complaints.”

He rejected the criticism of NAB.

The politicians on NAB radar criticise the anti-graft watchdog, he said, adding that the politicians should utilise the option of plea bargain and go to the place of their choice.

He lamented that the bureau was not being allowed to work in a province (Sindh), adding that whenever NAB initiated a case, a provincial minister appeared on TV screens and started criticising NAB and accusing it of discrimination. However, he directed NAB officers to work without any fear.

“If the health budget of a province is in billions of rupees and vaccine of dog bite is not available, then questions would be raised,” he said. “NAB has the right to raise question over the authenticity of a project when over a million rupee would be spent on a Rs5,000 project.”

He said 1,270 references, involving Rs940 billion, were still pending in various accountability courts but only 25 judges were available for the hearings. He called for enhancing the number of judges to at least 50 for quick disposal of corruption references.

The NAB chairman said no mega corruption case had been reported since 2017. “[From] now onwards, the focus of accountability is being shifted from the people who enjoyed over three decades of rule to the persons ruling the country for past 12 to 14 months.”

Commenting about the criticism of NAB for not taking up Peshawar’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) case, Iqbal said NAB is trying to vacate the stay granted by the Supreme Court to take the cases to its logical conclusion.

He admitted that investigations of white-collar crime were “extremely difficult”. Elaborating, he added, a crime is committed in Lahore and the property showed up is London. “The corruption money travels from a country to several countries and lands in another country,” he said.

He urged media to confirm a report before publishing or broadcasting it. It was alleged the other day that NAB Rawalpindi has summoned the mother of Akram Durrani but the news proved to be fake, he said. “NAB has the policy to avoid the arrest of a women suspect and only sends questionnaire to her.”

Justice (retd) Iqbal noted improvement in the performance of NAB since October 2017. “The conviction ratio has been up to 70%. He said NAB had appointed prosecutor generals for quick disposal of cases.

He urged the officers to ensure protecting self-esteem of the suspects. The practice of handcuffing a suspect has already been ended. However the suspects could be handcuffed. After the culprit is gone into judicial custody, NAB has no role in his or her plight, he added.

Allaying fears of bureaucracy, he said out of 1,200-plus pending cases, not more than 10 references were against the bureaucrats. However, he added the characters like Mushtaq Raisani and Liaquat Qaimkhani do exist in bureaucracy and millions of rupee were recovered from their homes.

He asked fake housing society owners to settle their disputes with poor investors. He said NAB wanted to contribute to the development of the country on the pattern of Risat-e-Madina. He praised the performance of NAB Rawalpindi.

The NAB chairman conferred shields and cash prize of Rs25,000 each on outstanding officers of NAB, who recovered record Rs2.13 billion and Rs11.16 billion in plea bargain in fake account case, Steel Mills land and Nooriabad Power Company.

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