Retired Justice Javed Iqbal, the incumbent chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), on Thursday said that the bureau remains undeterred in the face of criticism and will continue to probe corruption cases in accordance to the law.
The NAB exposed itself to criticism this week after it took notice of a misleading newspaper article based on a ‘flawed’ report and said it will investigate whether former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was involved in sending $4.9 billion to India.
Without an explicit mention of that particular case, Iqbal today defended his department's conduct and said that it will keep on operating as usual even if some find that upsetting.
"Whatever the NAB is doing it's doing for the country, for the people," the NAB chairman said during his speech in Peshawar today. "The NAB does not need any advertisement or any appreciation. If someone criticises or insults the NAB it's up to them but the NAB has been and will continue to exercise its rights in accordance with the law, the Constitution and also keeping in mind others' dignity.
"How is asking about corruption a crime? And let's suppose it is a crime, then this crime will continue to be committed because it's in the interest of this country. The situation right now is that we can't tolerate corruption any more.
"The NAB is not in panic and is not afraid."
Iqbal made it clear that the days of the 'untouchable' are over and that no one is above the law.
"It is better that those who have been thinking that they are untouchable should clear this misunderstanding," he said. "They can be asked questions, they can be nabbed and they can also be prosecuted per the law. The stolen money of the nation will be brought back and returned to their rightful owners."
Iqbal said that the NAB, under his tenure, has always been courteous to whoever it has probed.
"This is not a personal invitation of Javed Iqbal calling people for lunch or dinner," he said. "This notice is sent by a national organisation keeping in mind others' dignity. Whoever has been called in the past six months, has first been served tea and then been quizzed with the utmost respect that 'you were entrusted with the nation's money so just tell us where it was spent'."
He also reminded the bureaucracy that their loyalties lie with the state of Pakistan. "Bureaucracy's affiliation and loyalty is with the state and Pakistan," Iqbal said. "Governments come and go so the bureaucracy, before taking any steps, should think whether their decision is against the country or the state."
Nawaz Sharif, during a press conference on Thursday, said that the NAB chairman should either give proof of the "shameless" allegations against the PML-N supreme leader within 24 hours or apologize to the nation and resign.