ISLAMABAD: The PML-N government is considering bringing the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) under the Prime Minister’s Office from the law ministry, inside sources told Dawn on Tuesday.
A special cell has been formed in the PM Office headed by Joint Secretary Saleh Farooqui, who has recently been transferred from Punjab to the centre.
The purpose behind the move has not been specified, but it is believed that cases against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, which are being pursued by NAB in accountability courts, may have prompted the government to bring NAB under the administrative control of the PM Office.
A senior official of the PM Office expressed ignorance about any such move and said he could give an official version by Wednesday. He, however, confirmed that Punjab government official Saleh Farooqui had recently been appointed in the PM Office as a joint secretary.
Before being removed by the Supreme Court as chairman of NAB on May 28, retired Admiral Fasih Bokhari had requested an accountability court to reopen pending cases against the Sharif brothers.
At that time a NAB spokesman had said: “On the recommendation of a special committee, the NAB chairman has signed an application requesting the accountability court to reopen three references against the Sharif brothers to contest a quashing petition which was filed by them in the Lahore High Court in Oct, 2011.”
The three cases are Hudaibiya Paper Mills, Assets Beyond Known Sources of Income and the Ittefaq Foundry (Wilful Loan Default).
Proceedings in the cases were adjourned sine die by the accountability court in 2001 when the Sharif brothers were in exile.
After their return to the country, NAB filed an application in 2007 for reopening the cases. The application was accepted, but in 2010 the cases were adjourned sine die by the accountability court. It observed that the trial could commence if an application signed by the NAB chairman was submitted before the court.
Sources in NAB said a 15-man team of investigators had been formed by Admiral Bokhari to investigate cases relating to Rental Power Projects (RPPs), Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Steel Mills and the cases against the Sharif brothers.
In a briefing to caretaker prime minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, Admiral Bokhari had suggested that NAB be brought under the jurisdiction of the Cabinet Division from the law ministry.When NAB was established in 1999 it worked directly under the then president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf. It was put under the law ministry in 2009.
Ehtesab Bureau, the old version of NAB, was established in 1997 by Nawaz Sharif during his second stint as prime minister. It worked for two years.
Since the removal of Admiral Bokhari by the apex court, NAB has become dormant as no major decision has been taken.
During hearing of a case on Tuesday, the Supreme Court directed the government to immediately appoint a new chairman for NAB. This would require ‘meaningful’ consultations between the prime minister and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah.