Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Wednesday strongly criticised the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for launching a probe against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, involving alleged money laundering of $4.9 billion to India.
According to NAB, it launched the probe after a Sept 2016 World Bank migration and remittance book reported that India's foreign exchange reserves had increased by $4.9 billion due to huge cash inflows attributed to money laundering, inflicting losses to Pakistan’s national kitty.
The prime minister while addressing the National Assembly asked the House to constitute a committee which would summon the NAB chairman and investigate the allegations. The premier in his tirade also claimed that the institution had overstepped its domain.
The country will not function if institutions will work in this way, he added, pointing out that the NA still has time to amend the NAB laws.
He asked the House to "summon the NAB chairman" to clear his position as "allegations of a very serious nature" had been levelled against the former prime minister.
Abbasi said that based on the manner in which the former premier had been brought before the accountability court, he did not believe that NAB would be able to provide justice to Nawaz Sharif.
Prerequisites of justice should be met in all matters, the prime minister said, adding: "Not only should justice be done, it must also be seen being done."
"The Bureau should play its due role against corruption and should fulfil the requirements of justice," he added.
Earlier Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan expressed the same sentiments and criticised NAB for launching the money laundering probe against Nawaz Sharif.
Syed Naveed Qamar of the PPP said he could understand the prime minister's concern but he partially disagreed with the idea of summoning the NAB chairman and held it tantamount to interference into NAB affairs.
"It will be a new precedent if we interfere into the matters of an institution that we ourselves created," he said, adding that he, however, would consult with his party leadership over the issue of constituting a committee on the matter.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's Asad Umar categorically opposed the suggestion of constituting a committee on the issue. He said that interfering into the affairs of NAB would be "tantamount to the murder of justice and accountability" in the country.
"NAB is fulfilling the role that the Finance Ministry should have played on the first day the report came out," he said.
Taking notice of a misleading newspaper article based on a ‘flawed’ report of the World Bank, NAB has started looking into whether ousted premier Sharif was involved in the alleged laundering of $4.9 billion to India.
While the World Bank promptly responded to the NAB move and stated that “the report does not include any mention of money laundering nor does it name any individuals”, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said the estimates showed in the WB report were based on “assumptions” which did not reflect reality.
Soon after the SBP clarification, NAB issued a brief statement and questioned: “If the World Bank report is not correct, why they have not changed the figure of $4.9bn from Pakistan in its report?”
Talking to Dawn on Tuesday, a spokesman for the SBP said the bank had issued a clarification twice in the past — in 2015 and 2016 — rejecting the WB report.
The WB’s assessment was called a “flawed” one because those who migrated from India and became Pakistan citizens after 1947 did not send back remittances.
The fresh clarification of the WB said its report was an effort to estimate migration and remittances numbers across the world. The report does not include any mention of money laundering nor does it name any individual.
A WB spokesman said: “We would also like to refer to a statement by the State Bank of Pakistan which rejects estimates of $4.9 billion in remittances from Pakistan to India on Sept 21, 2016.”