PPP lashes out at NAB's 'double standards' in Sindh Assembly

Published November 1, 2017
PPP leader Sharjeel Memon speaking in the Sindh Assembly on Wednesday.— DawnNews
PPP leader Sharjeel Memon speaking in the Sindh Assembly on Wednesday.— DawnNews

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the Sindh Assembly on Wednesday thundered against the "double standards" displayed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) when dealing with the Sharif family in comparison with PPP leader Sharjeel Inam Memon, and tabled a resolution in the house to this effect.

Memon, who was arrested last month on corruption charges, was today presented in the assembly amid tight security ─ and a shower of rose petals from his supporters.

Under-arrest PPP leader Sharjeel Memon arrives at Sindh Assembly. ─ DawnNews
Under-arrest PPP leader Sharjeel Memon arrives at Sindh Assembly. ─ DawnNews

The former minister lambasted the anti-corruption body for arresting him upon his arrival in Islamabad despite having secured bail in two corruption references, and for placing his name on the Exit Control List (ECL), in what he described as a double standard in NAB's behaviour.

"They arrested me when I landed in Islamabad even though I had procured bail," he told lawmakers in the provincial assembly.

"NAB officials were waiting for me when the plane landed. I told them I had bail, but they asked me to go with them despite that. First I was made to sit in one car, then in another car. They took me to NAB headquarters," he claimed. "They had to leave me when my lawyers came," he added.

Memon was quick to point out the alleged difference in treatment afforded to retired Captain Safdar, ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif's son-in-law, who is also facing a corruption reference.

"When Capt Safdar landed at Islamabad airport, the same NAB officials were barred from the airport," he claimed.

Safdar was taken into custody by a NAB team minutes upon his arrival at the airport after non-bailable arrest warrants were issued against him by an accountability court as he had failed to appear for previous hearings despite repeat notices.

Read more: Capt Safdar held by NAB on return from London

Memon also questioned the NAB's criteria for placing people's names on the ECL and requested the newly-instated NAB Chairman Javed Iqbal to "check the criteria for putting people on the ECL."

"Until now, have the names of all those who are being investigated been placed on the ECL?" Memon asked, referring specifically to Nawaz Sharif and Ishaq Dar.

"Why is there a double standard?" he asked. "Nawaz Sharif is out of the country, Ishaq Dar is travelling all over the world holding meetings, why are their names not on the ECL?"

"They [the Sharif family] are treated differently from everyone else in this country, and I want to know why," he asserted.

Memon also observed that he had been arrested from the steps of the court on Oct 23. "My question is: was that not contempt of court, when the law says that no arrests are to be made inside the court's premises?"

"There are a number of other points I can raise about my trial here, but this is not he forum to do that. However, I still want to know under what law are the 11 people arrested along with me being kept in custody, since there were no arrest warrants issued for them in the first place," he said.

Memon added that he was ready to answer "any questions" regarding the cases against him.

"I would like to remind everyone that I was abroad when the references were first drafted against me. I could have stayed there — like many other politicians — but I chose to return to Pakistan and face these cases."

After Memon's address, the PPP presented a resolution in the assembly against the NAB's "double standards" with respect to the former minister's case. The resolution was accepted.

Criticism of NAB not subjudice: CM Shah

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Shah also addressed the assembly today, supporting Memon's stance on the matter, and clarified that criticism of the accountability body did not amount to subjudice as it was not criticism of the courts.

"Memon returned and surrendered himself to court. The matter we are taking up is not subjudice ─ it is not against the courts, it is criticism of the NAB's dual standards," he claimed.

"In a previous resolution, we had already said that accountability is a provincial matter and not a federal matter. We said it because we disagreed with the NAB's conduct," he explained.

"We have no problem in respecting the courts. In fact, we accept the court's authority in all matters," he claimed. "However, NAB should be investigated for the double standards," he added.

"I say Sharjeel Memon should be investigated, but I say the NAB should also be investigated," he said.

A NAB team had taken the former Sindh information minister into custody on October 23 after the Sindh High Court rejected his bail plea in a corruption case pertaining to the award of advertisements at 'exorbitant rates' through the abuse of his power.

NAB officials had also arrested 11 co-accused in the case who had been accompanying Memon in the court. Out of the 11, five had handed over themselves to NAB officials whereas the remaining seven were arrested along with Memon.

Following the rejection of his bail plea, Memon had holed up for hours in a courtroom to avoid arrest as his team explored their options, but could not stave off the inevitable for long. During this period, in an apparent show of solidarity, several PPP ministers had visited Memon in the court.

As soon as Memon exited the building, surrounded in a tight cordon by his lawyers and supporters, he was nabbed by representatives of the accountability bureau and whisked away.

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