The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday sought more time for the bureau's chairman to appear for a hearing before the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Law and Justice.
Retired Justice Javed Iqbal, who heads the accountability watchdog, had been summoned by the committee today to give an explanation of why the bureau initiated an inquiry into allegations of money laundering to India by the PML-N’s supreme leader, Nawaz Sharif.
Accepting the request submitted by NAB representative Irfan Naeem Mangi, the NA committee asked the chairman to appear before it on May 22.
Meanwhile, a meeting of PML-N's leaders at Punjab House condemned the NAB chairman's no-show.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan had opposed the committee's decision to summon the chairman, with their lawmakers arguing that Iqbal had done nothing wrong by ordering an inquiry in the allegations.
Meanwhile, Minister for State Tallal Chaudhry explained that the purpose of summoning the chairman was not to disrespect anyone but to find out what the procedure of issuing a press release is.
The NA committee, headed by a PML-N lawmaker from Sahiwal, Chaudhry Mohammad Ashraf, had summoned the NAB chief hours after the issue was raised by Rana Hayat Khan while speaking on a point of order in the house. The matter had been referred to the committee by former law minister Zahid Hamid, who was presiding over the session at that time.
Last week, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had criticised NAB on the floor of the National Assembly for its “faux pas” over the alleged $4.9 billion money laundering to India by Sharif.
According to the complaint NAB said it would investigate, the World Bank’s migration and remittance book, released in September 2016, had carried information that the foreign exchange reserves of India increased by $4.9bn after the amount was laundered to the country by the then government.
However, the World Bank had promptly responded to the NAB statement, saying: “the report does not include any mention of money laundering nor does it name any individuals”.
The State Bank of Pakistan had also said that the estimates showed in the WB report were based on “assumptions” which did not reflect the reality.
Lashing out at the NAB chairman for ordering a probe merely on the basis of a media report, the prime minister had asked NA speaker Ayaz Sadiq to constitute a special committee to summon the NAB chairman and seek an explanation.
PML-N's supreme leader Nawaz Sharif has called for the NAB chairman to either apologise for the blunder or resign.
Iqbal, however, has remained adamant in continuing his work as the bureau's head.
"NAB is not in panic and is not afraid," he had said previously.