As a civilian-judiciary clash over the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) nears a conclusion, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is deliberating ‘how’ to reassess all the inquiries against 118 prominent politicians given a clean slate under the controversial deal.
The NRO, promulgated by former president Pervez Musharraf in 2007, was the result of a political pact with slain former premier Benazir Bhutto.
NAB will likely reexamine approved inquiries against 26 politicians affiliated with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, 39 Pakistan Peoples Party members and 53 accused who belong to other parties, officials said on Monday.
“We will reassess inquiries against 38 sitting and former members of the National Assembly, 12 senators and 60 members of the provincial assemblies,” a senior official told The Express Tribune. The decision to reassess these inquiries may be taken this week by NAB Chief Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari. The chairman is also to hold a meeting in this regard – right after submitting an unconditional apology in the Supreme Court on Monday.
A total of 37 cases including those related to the NRO are being tried in NAB courts. Around six are in the SC, 30 are in high courts and 57 cases are being inquired or investigated in accountability courts, he added.
The list of top politicians whose necks are on the line include: Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, Provincial Minister (Sindh) Agha Siraj Durrani, former minister Malik Mushtaq Awan, Senator Jahangir, former MNA Rana Nazir Ahmad, former advisor to Chief Minister Punjab Mian Muhammad Rashid, MNA Nawab Talpur, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, former Sindh home minister Zulfikar Mirza, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK Wajid Shamsul Hassan, close aide of the president Salman Farooqi, the prime minister’s former principal secretary Muhammad Ahmed Sadiq and Saeed Mehdi as well as various other politicians.
Letter to Swiss authorities
The deliberations also include mulling over recommendations for writing to the Swiss authorities in order to revive investigations into money laundering cases. The recommendations have been requested by the Ministry of Law and Justice. All record related to Swiss cases are in ‘safe custody’ of the NAB chief, officials who are familiar with the matter said.
Action against former AGP, others on the cards
Officials have also decided to seek red warrants for the arrest of former attorney general Malik Qayyum. Qayyum’s claim to fame was that he had written to Swiss courts in order to shelve the investigations over the money-laundering cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. They also decided to take action against Ahmed Riaz Sheikh, Adnan Khawaja and officials who were involved in the illegal contractual appointment of Sheikh and Khawaja. The two were NRO beneficiaries whose appointments became null and void after the NRO verdict.
A former prosecutor-general of NAB, however, was of the opinion that such reassessment would prove pointless. “Efforts to reassess the old inquiries which have been dropped for four to five years now is futile,” he told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity. “It’s all being done by NAB because it’s been under immense pressure since 2008.” He did not go into details, on the other hand, citing the issue as being a “sensitive one”.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2012.