Victim lifts lid on former NAB chief’s ‘sleazy conduct’

PAC recommends PM sack Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal as head of panel on missing persons


Rizwan Shehzad   July 08, 2022
Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal. PHOTO: PPI / FILE

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ISLAMABAD:

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Noor Alam Khan urged Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday to remove or suspend Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal as head of the commission on missing persons, following allegations he harassed innocent women.

Iqbal, who also served as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman, was summoned to appear before PAC on Thursday. He, however, sent a letter to the committee, saying he would come after Eidul Azha. The chair said that arrest warrant would be issued if Iqbal skipped the next meeting.

During the meeting, PAC heard from Tayyaba Gull, whose controversial video with the former NAB chairman had surfaced in 2019. In her statement, she alleged that NAB officials stripped her naked, made videos and filed cases, when she refused to comply with Iqbal’s “demands”.

Gull alleged before PAC that NAB Director General Shahzad Saleem along with others installed cameras in a room at the bureau’s Lahore Office, stripped her naked and made videos that were later shown to her husband for mentally torturing him, when he was in custody in ‘fake’ cases.

“I was stripped naked and videos were made,” Gull sobbed. Her throat felt swollen and she stuttered before adding: “I was taken to a room, cameras were installed, officials conducted frisking, stripped me naked, laughed at me and my videos were made.”

When asked by the PAC Chairman who did it, Gull named NAB DG Shahzad Saleem, Kashif Masroor, Imran Dogar and several others. Despite a court order, she said, her medical test was not conducted, adding that her signatures were taken on a blank paper, whose content later stated that she didn’t want medical examination.

The PAC chairman, who ensured that incumbent NAB Chairman Zahir Shah stayed in the meeting while Gull recorded statement, ordered suspension of officials named in her statement until an inquiry was completed. He directed Shah to collect evidence and lodge first information reports (FIRs) as such a brutality and criminality couldn’t be tolerated.

Khan said that he would urge the prime minister to suspend or remove Iqbal as head of the commission on missing persons, especially, after human rights activist Amna Masood Janjua accused Iqbal of using sexist remarks against a woman whose husband had gone missing.

Gull further alleged that NAB officials arrested her husband, Muhammad Farooq, before arresting her from Gulberg Green, Islamabad, where she was asked to come at midnight to take her husband home.

The harassment victim was called to record her statement before the highest accountability forum of parliament in response to a letter she had written earlier, seeking investigation against all those NAB officials, who had misused the office and acted unlawfully “to take revenge from her” for refusing to comply with Iqbal’s demands.

Iqbal, who was also summoned, didn’t appear before PAC and instead sent a letter, stating that he would come after Eid. This irked Khan, who announced that arrest warrant would be issued if Iqbal doesn’t appear before PAC the next time.

Gull, with tears rolling down her cheeks, said that she couldn’t even narrate the “brutality” she was subjected to while being taken to Lahore from Islamabad. She added that her condition was miserable, as her clothes were torn and bruises were all over her body when she reached NAB’s Lahore Office.

To another question from the chair as to how did it all start, Gull recalled that she along with her husband had appeared before the commission for the missing persons as an aunt of her husband had gone missing.

She alleged that Iqbal took her number from the application, started making phone calls, and kept asking her to meet him at the commission’s office as he couldn’t meet her at NAB office.

Gull alleged that Iqbal would force her to the extent that hearing of the missing aunt’s case would only take place if she would come. He used to give short dates of the case, she alleged.

“I can destroy your life in a second,” Gull quoted Iqbal as telling her when she refused to meet him. She said that he even threatened to cut her into pieces. “I was arrested two days after that,” she added.

In addition, Gull revealed before PAC that Azam Khan, who was the principal secretary to former prime minister Imran Khan, met her after she lodged complaint at the Citizen Portal. She was then asked to share the evidence with a man, Tahir A Khan, who later ran videos of her with NAB chairman on a television channel.

“Who was the beneficiary of the videos for three years,” she questioned, wondering why no action was taken against Iqbal and how the NAB DG was still serving in the post.

To this, the PAC chairman assured that all the accused would face investigation and that he would write to the prime minister and the chief justice of Pakistan. But before that, he stressed, it was important to hear what Iqbal had to say in response to the allegations.

The victim told PAC that she recorded audio calls and videos of NAB chairman to expose him as there was no other way to show the world what a retired judge and the head of a watchdog and commission was up to, while allegedly misusing his powers and labelling the couple as ‘blackmailers’.

She also told PAC that audio and video evidence of harassment was available with her. She also told the lawmakers that roughly 40 FIRs were registered in addition to NAB references against the couple. Some of the evidence was shown on the screen during PAC meeting.

Gull said that NAB spokesperson, Nawazish Sial, had later told her that her video made at NAB’s Lahore Office was deleted and the bureau’s former chairman and incumbent DG wanted to reach a compromise for whatever happened to her.

Alleging that Iqbal’s personal secretary at the commission works as “facilitator”, she urged PAC to help her get justice as the couple faced “unbearable” torture and sufferings at the hands of NAB officials.

Noor Alam Khan assured her that he would ensure justice in the case, adding that he would call the NAB and police officials as the “misuse of authority” was evident. He further said that PAC would hear Iqbal after Eid before moving ahead.

Meanwhile, the PAC chairman directed NAB, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) to conduct an inquiry within a month into the alleged embezzlement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) funds allocated for the tribal areas.

Senator Hilalur Rehman from the former Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) filed an application before PAC, saying that no development work had taken place, yet millions of rupees were paid.

He said that the record showed that in one instance 844 kilometre pipeline was laid in just one day. Khan ordered for freezing the accounts, saying that the amount would be recovered if the inquiry findings seconded Rehman’s allegations.

The PAC chairman also directed NAB chairman to file a reference pertaining to Malam Jabba scandal and reopen investigations into the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), the Billion Tree Tsunami and the Bank of Khyber scandals.

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