NAB chairman rejects business community's concerns about watchdog as 'completely baseless'

Updated October 06, 2019

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National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Javed Iqbal addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Sunday, October 6. — DawnNewsTV
National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Javed Iqbal addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Sunday, October 6. — DawnNewsTV

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Javed Iqbal on Sunday refuted reservations that the business community had recently expressed about the accountability watchdog as "completely baseless".

While addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Iqbal said that he was shocked when he learnt that one individual had expressed his reservations about NAB in the much-talked-about meeting between Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and some of Pakistan's most powerful business tycoons on Wednesday.

However, the NAB chairman said that a few days prior, the same individual had written a letter to the bureau in which he had applauded its services.

Iqbal said that he would not name the businessman as he didn't want to affect anyone's image, but said that if the individual had reservations he should have shared them with the bureau.

The NAB chairman added that not just one business tycoon, but at least three, had written letters to the bureau in which they praised it.

He said that he would furnish the said letters if needed be. Iqbal expressed his gratitude to them for praising NAB as well as for expressing their reservations.

"Every person or institution can make lapses," he said, adding that God had given humans intelligence in order to minimise the lapses.

The NAB chairman added that a four-member committee has been formed, the mandate for which is being determined. He said that it could be seen as an "advisory" institution that would discuss the problems of the business community and find solutions to them.

"I want to clarify that the formation of a committee doesn't mean that NAB is not an independent institution or that NAB is subservient," he said.

Last week, the business community met with both the army chief and Prime Minister Imran Khan.

According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army chief had told a group of businessmen that the country's "improved internal security environment" has "created space for increased economic activity".

Read: Meeting with COAS was cordial: industry leaders

The participants of the meeting said they hammered the point about NAB interfering in business activities. "There was a lot of noise about National Accountability Bureau," one person had told Dawn.

The following day, in separate meetings with business barons, Prime Minister Imran had assured them that a strategy had been finalised to address the concerns of the business community regarding NAB.

During one meeting, the prime minister told the businessmen that the government had decided to form a committee comprising senior persons of the industry. The committee would have the mandate to decide which cases regarding businessmen should be taken up by NAB and which should not.

Saudi style authority

Addressing the press conference today, Iqbal said that while he was speaking to businessmen at the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FPCCI) on Thursday, one individual had asked him if looted wealth could be recovered in four weeks in Saudi Arabia, why couldn't this happen in Pakistan.

"Believe me, NAB has never wanted that we are given power similar to that of the Saudi model," he said, adding: "Don't I know that Pakistan is an independent country, it has a Constitution, rule of law and an active judiciary and all institutions are working in their places?"

Iqbal said that it would be a "very strange request" to ask for authority that is only possible in a monarchy.

"NAB has never expressed a desire to be given Saudi style power."

He clarified that what he had said was that if they did have the authority available in Saudi Arabia, he would take three weeks to recover the looted wealth.