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Search under way for new NAB chief

Updated August 18, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Syed Khursheed Shah, has started search for a new chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as the incumbent chief of the anti-graft watchdog will retire next month.

NAB chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, who is said to be a loyalist of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, will retire in September and the new chairman will be dealing with cases of the Sharif family being reopened by NAB on the orders of the Supreme Court.

Under the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999, the appointment of NAB chairman is made by the prime minister in consultation with the leader of the opposition.

“This is the right time to start a search for the new chairman because if we start this work today it will be completed till October,” the opposition leader said while talking to reporters in his chamber at the Parliament House on Thursday.

He pledged to select people of integrity and good reputation for the important post.

“I am searching for such people who are non-controversial,” he said, adding that it was a heavy responsibility on him to appoint the next NAB chief.

The incumbent NAB chairman was also appointed with the consent of both then prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Mr Shah, but Mr Chaudhry became controversial from the very first day as another opposition party, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), rejected his name and alleged that Mr Chaudhry would not be impartial while dealing with cases of the Sharif and Zardari families.

Earlier, the PPP had no objection to the appointment of Mr Chaudhry, but when the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and PPP relations turned sour and case were filed by the government against Dr Asim Hussain and other PPP leaders, the PPP accused NAB of becoming a tool for arms twisting of political opponents of the government.

Bank accounts of Sharif family

In a related development, NAB has written a letter to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) seeking bank accounts details of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and other members of the Sharif family, an inside source told Dawn.

Although NAB has received the investigation report of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed by the Supreme Court to investigate the Panama Papers case, the bureau has decided to conduct its own investigation also into alleged corruption and money laundering cases of the Sharif family so that references could be filed against them in accountability courts.

Media reports said that NAB had also sent letters to different countries to get details of the Sharif family’s offshore assets and companies.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2017