‘NAB to pursue cases against Sharif, Zardari’

Published October 14, 2013
Former President Asif Ali Zardari (L) and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (R). — File photo
Former President Asif Ali Zardari (L) and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (R). — File photo

ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Chaudhry Qamar Zaman has decided to reopen and pursue major corruption cases, including those against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, former president Asif Ali Zardari and other prominent politicians.

“The new chairman sought details of the high-profile cases and decided to go for across-the-board accountability,” NAB spokesman Ramzan Sajid claimed while talking to this correspondent on Sunday.

According to him, the chairman said at a briefing that he would tolerate no delay in the processing and pursuing of such cases.

But political observers here say that the claim needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. One of them who did not want to be identified said the NAB chairman who had been appointed after prolonged discussions between the two parties — the prime minister and the leader of opposition — was highly unlikely to take up this challenging task.

NAB sources said former chairman retired Admiral Fasih Bokhari had not given a go-ahead for pursuing the high-profile cases. “A file containing cases of more than 30 politicians was placed before the former chairman for his final approval for initiating action but he did not sign it and kept it in his own custody,” they said.

The file contained cases against the Sharif brothers, including those relating to Hudaybia Paper Mills, having assets beyond known sources of income and Ittefaq Foundry loan default, they said.

Proceedings in the cases against the Sharif brothers were adjourned indefinitely by an accountability court in 2001 when the family was in exile.

After their return, NAB filed in 2007 an application for reopening the cases which was granted but proceedings were adjourned in 2010 with the court directing that the trial could commence only if an application signed by the NAB chairman was submitted.

Former interior minister Rehman Malik also referred a case against the Sharif brothers to NAB.

Presiding over a meeting and briefings, the new chairman said: “NAB officers must not only put in extra effort but also ensure transparency and an even-handed approach, irrespective of who is involved.”

The Islamabad Accountability Court on Friday reopened six cases against Mr Zardari which had remained dormant because of his presidential immunity.

Then cases pertain to alleged kickbacks from SGS pre-shipment inspection company, grant of licence to ARY Gold, commission in purchase of Ursus tractors, illegal award of a contract to Cotecna, assets beyond means, kickbacks from a former chairman of Pakistan Steel Mills, illegal construction of a polo ground at the Prime Minister House and the Swiss SGS money laundering case.

The NAB chairman will also have to decide about pending references, including the Rs22 billion Rental Power Projects and Rs82bn Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority scams, in which former prime ministers Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf are said to be involved.

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