ISLAMABAD: National Accounta­bility Bureau (NAB) Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal on Tuesday presented the bureau’s annual report for the year 2017 to President Mamnoon Hussain.

The report claimed that the government was reluctant to place the names of ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family on the Exit Control List (ECL), while names recommended after theirs have been put on the list.

According to the report, 107 people were removed from the ECL and 93 were placed on it on the recommendation of the country’s principal anti-corruption watchdog last year.

The report said that NAB had asked to include on the ECL, names of the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his children Maryam Nawaz, Hassan Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz and his son-in-law retired Capt Safdar. All of them are being tried in accountability courts regarding the Panama Leaks reference. The government has however not taken any action to place their names on the ECL.

Following NAB’s recommendations to include the Sharif family on the ECL, the bureau had advanced the names of several other individuals involved in corruption cases. They include former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief retired Lt Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi, ex-director general (marketing) Pakistan Railways Khalid Naqi, and Ramzan Sheikh — a former director of the construction company, Hasnain Constructions.

The names of all these individuals have been added to the ECL, as they have been facing corruption cases for leasing out Pakistan Railway owned-land at nominal rates to the Royal Palm Golf and Country Club.

The name of Amjad Kayani, brother of former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani, has also been placed on the ECL due to his connection with a case related to the construction of the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) Valley in Islamabad.

The annual report of the bureau said that a total of 409 individuals accused by NAB had been put on the ECL until Dec 31, 2017, compared to 423 on Jan 1, 2017.

Last year, 93 names were put on the ECL including 39 on the direction of NAB Karachi, 27 on the recommendation of NAB Rawalpindi, 14 on the advice of NAB Lahore, 10 on the direction of NAB Multan and three on the recommendation of NAB Balochistan.

During the same year, 107 names had been removed from the ECL including 35 from Lahore, one from Multan, 33 from Rawalpindi, 26 from Karachi, nine from Khyber Pakhtun­khwa and three from Balochistan.

Remarks from the president

President Mamnoon Hussain said that NAB officers must continue to work honestly and must be unbiased while investigating cases, as corruption-free management was the hallmark of the bureau.

Earlier, during a meeting with NAB chairman at the presidency, President Hussain appreciated the annual report and said, “Indis­criminate action against everyone is the basis for eradication of corruption. It will restore the confidence and trust of the masses in national institutions.” He emphasized that corruption could only be eliminated if, “all of the reservations of the courts and public against NAB are removed.”

The president also highlighted the need to ensure that the ongoing investigations by the bureau did not affect the pace of development in the country.

Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2018