PESHAWAR: After Prime Minister Imran Khan criticised arrest of a well-known archaeologist by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the anti-graft watchdog’s head on Saturday took notice of the issue and directed officials here to produce the suspect before him along with relevant record.
A statement issued by the NAB headquarters said its chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal “viewed with respect” the services rendered by Dr Abdus Samad, the director for Archaeology and Museum, Peshawar, and promised that requirements for justice in the case would be fulfilled in accordance with the Constitution and law.
Justice Iqbal asked director general of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter of NAB to produce Dr Samad before him on Monday along with details of the charges against him and the relevant record.
PM, CM, others criticise arrest of expert
Dr Samad was taken into custody on Feb 14 by the NAB officials on charges of carrying out illegal appointments of around 96 low-grade staffers for different archaeological sites in the province.
He was remanded in the custody of NAB for 10 days on Feb 15.
His arrest triggered an outcry, especially on the social media, as his supporters highlighted his contributions to the fields of archaeology and tourism.
Prime Minister Khan took notice of a tweet by a senior journalist. While re-tweeting on the journalist’s tweet, he said: “The NAB chairman should take action against those in his institution who are responsible for this disgraceful act.”
In his tweet, the journalist had stated: “NAB brought the only PhD in Sanskrit in Asia from Germany, a Fulbright scholar and a gold medallist in archaeology, Dr Samad, to court for employing low-paid workers to ward off illegal excavations. What a shame! Why should anybody serve here!”
Apart from the prime minister, the provincial government also put its weight behind Dr Samad and condemned the NAB’s action.
Chief Minister Mehmood Khan criticised Dr Samad’s arrest and termed the NAB’s role in the province “wrong”.
“The arrest of Abdus Samad Khan is wrong and if NAB continues harassing honest officers in KP, it will hinder development in the province,” he said while addressing a function held in connection with the tree plantation drive in Matta, Swat.
Meanwhile, despite directives issued by an accountability court to NAB officials, the close family members of Dr Samad were not allowed to meet him on Saturday.
While allowing his physical custody by NAB, Judge Naveed Ahmad Khan had ordered the officials concerned to treat the suspect with respect and allow his family members to meet him. However, when some family members went to the NAB’s regional office, they were not allowed to meet the senior archaeologist.
Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2019