ISLAMABAD: Alleging that the Assets Recovery Unit, which had been established by Prime Minister Imran Khan to bring the looted amount from foreign countries back to Pakistan, has failed in its task, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) on Thursday called for carrying out a performance audit of the ARU and resignation of its chief Shahzad Akbar.
“Tell the nation how many foreign trips have been undertaken by the ARU chief and others? How much of the looted national wealth has this unit recovered?” said PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb in a statement in response to some tweets earlier in the day by Mr Akbar in which he had targeted Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif.
“Shahzad Akbar and his wingmen should be booked by NAB (National Accountability Bureau) for obliterating exchequer’s money on foreign trips without recovering a dime,” Ms Aurangzeb said, adding that the ARU head should resign for “miserably failing” to recover the looted national wealth.
Marriyum Aurangzeb says Shahzad Akbar had promised to recover $200bn, but failed
Mr Akbar, who also holds the portfolio of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability, through his official social media account on Twitter claimed that so far he had not received any legal notice from Shahbaz Sharif and recalled his reported statement in July in which he had stated that the PML-N president would not dare to do so.
“This was in July this year and I was right, not even sent me a letter before action!” tweeted Mr Akbar with a clipping of his reported statement in a newspaper in July that had appeared with the headline “Shahbaz wouldn’t dare sue me: Shahzad”.
Responding to the tweets, Ms Aurangzeb said that the ARU chief could not hide his “sheer incompetence by slinging mud” at Mr Sharif.
After staying in hibernation over shame of failure in cases against Shahbaz Sharif, Mr Akbar had once again emerged to save his job using Shahbaz’s name, she said in her apparent reference to Mr Akbar’s long silence over the issue and his visits abroad.
“These cheap tactics to gain attention by using the name of Shahbaz Sharif won’t work now,” she added.
Ms Aurangzeb, who had served as the information minister in the previous PML-N government, said Shahzad Akbar had put the poor The Mail in trouble with his “fake news” and was now back with “another recipe of suicide attack’’ on the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf regime.
She said that instead of issuing statements against Mr Sharif, Mr Akbar should answer the nation about the $200 billion he had promised to recover.
Moreover, she said, the reality of this regime that was so fond of chanting ‘Chor Chor (thief)’ had been uncovered by the recent report of the World Economic Forum that had comprehensively exposed the “incompetence, lies and corruption of this regime”.
“Whichever minister or adviser of the PTI regime feels his job is in danger, starts leveling accusations against PML-N leaders,” she concluded.
The tussle between Mr Akbar and the PML-N began in July with the publication of a news report in The Mail which accused Mr Sharif of money laundering and stealing the British taxpayers’ money given to Pakistan’s Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority that had been set up to help the victims of the 2005 earthquake.
The PML-N rejected the report as “baseless” and a part of the “propaganda’’, alleging that the story had been planted by Mr Akbar.
Mr Sharif announced that he would take legal action against the UK newspaper for publishing a “fabricated and misleading story”. He had accused the paper of publishing the story at the behest of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Shahzad Akbar and said that he would initiate legal proceedings against them as well.
On July 26, Mr Sharif claimed that he had sent a legal notice to the British publication and its reporter David Rose for publishing the “fake story”.
Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2019