LAHORE: PML-N Senior Vice President Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Wednesday alleged that National Accountability Bureau chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal was being blackmailed by Prime Minister Imran Khan to go after opposition leaders.
“Imran Khan has been blackmailing the NAB chairman because of his purported video tape. [Mr Iqbal] is taking orders from Imran Khan,” he said during a press conference in Model Town.
Flanked by Ahsan Iqbal and Marriyum Aurangzeb, the former premier asked the NAB to screen live proceedings of PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif in the so-called money laundering and income beyond means investigations so that people of the country could know the reality of charges against him. “Despite accusing Shahbaz of a number of crimes in different cases, the NAB has yet to prove a single allegation against him.”
He said a lot of propaganda had been done on the 56 companies of Punjab, Saaf Pani and Ashiyana cases, but at the end of the day nothing was proved against the opposition leader in the court, showing that these cases were meant to malign him.
“Now, as nothing else is left to go after Shahbaz, allegations of assets beyond means, benami assets and money laundering are being levelled as a last resort,” he further said. “Interrogate Shahbaz in front of the people as a man who spent his life among them should be interrogated in front of them.”
Abbasi also questioned the NAB chairman’s decision to sign Shahbaz Sharif’s arrest order on May 28, four days ahead of his date of appearance before the bureau.
Mr Iqbal said the PTI government, instead of focusing on Covid-19 and the locust attack, was consuming its energies to take action against the Sharifs. “The NAB’s attempt to arrest Sharif was a tactic to keep him from attending the upcoming budget session.”
The arrest warrants for Shahbaz was a classic example of political victimisation. “The NAB issued Shahbaz’s arrest warrants on May 28 and he was summoned for June 2, showing complete mala fide and political victimisation at the behest of Imran Khan,” Mr Iqbal alleged.
Ms Aurangzeb said premier Khan had been “using and abusing” the NAB to divert attention from his corruption, incompetence and failures through the most vicious political victimisation campaign for the past two and a half years.
The former information minister said the NAB-Niazi alliance could only illegally arrest and abduct political rivals but it had not been able to file a single reference against them. “This government of clueless bullies and amateurs can only put political opponents behind bars to feed their petty vengeance.” Meanwhile, responding to the PML-N leaders’ press conference, Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan said Shahbaz Sharif has been granted interim bail, not a clean chit.
He said the Sharif family’s cronies had united to protect the loot of national wealth by their leaders. Those who looted the country’s wealth with both hands considered accountability as their insult.
He said Shahbaz Sharif had refused to appear before the NAB by observing Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs), but went to the court to get relief amidst a crowd without observing any SOPs.
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had submitted money trail of his assets in the court and to the state institutions, but the PML-N leaders beat about the bush when they were asked about their assets beyond means.
Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2020