ISLAMABAD: Continuing their onslaught on the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the country’s major opposition parties — the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — have asked NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal to step down after recent observations of superior courts regarding its functioning and appointments in the bureau and the damning report of Human Rights Watch (HRW) exposing the bureau’s use as a political tool.
“Instead of sending notices to political opponents (of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government), the NAB chairman should resign,” said PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb in a statement issued here on Saturday.
Ms Aurangzeb alleged that NAB was committing contempt of court by leaking information to the media about the cases against people even before formally filing a reference. She recalled that the Supreme Court in its verdict had mentioned that NAB was involved in media trial of people and also directed the bureau not to give any news to the media before filing a reference.
PML-N accuses bureau of committing contempt of court by leaking information about cases; PPP alleges irregular appointments in NAB
“Releasing news reports to the media through ‘sources’ is a violation and an insult of the verdicts of the Supreme Court and the high courts,” she said.
“Why NAB is still functioning after the Supreme Court’s verdict in Khawaja Saad Rafique case?” she asked while referring to the July 21 verdict of the apex court in the Paragon City case.
In the verdict, the court had described NAB’s conduct in dealing with the housing society corruption case as a manifestation of utter disregard to law, fair play, equity and propriety and termed it “a classic example of trampling of fundamental rights, unlawful deprivation of freedom, and liberty and the complete disregard for human dignity as guaranteed by the Constitution.”
“The Bureau seems reluctant in proceeding against people on one side of the political divide even in respect of financial scams of massive proportion while those on the other side are being arrested and incarcerated for months and years without providing any sufficient cause even when the law mandates investigations to be concluded expeditiously and trial to be concluded within 30 days,” the verdict had said.
Besides the courts, Ms Aurangzeb said, the Council of Islamic Ideology, legal and constitutional experts and many bar associations had exposed “the black face” of NAB.
“After the decisions of the courts and the report of the HRW, how can the NAB chairman gather courage to send notices to the people?” she asked.
Meanwhile, speaking at a news conference, PPP Senator Moula Bakhsh Chandio said NAB had lost its credibility and an institution with no credibility should be dissolved.
Senator Chandio said the HRW report showed that NAB had become an institution for victimisation run by unprofessional people.
The HRW through its report had urged the PTI government to “stop using NAB to detain its critics” and said the country’s parliament should carry out reforms to make the anti-graft body independent.
In a media statement, the HRW had said the authorities should investigate and prosecute the NAB officials responsible for unlawful arrests and other abuses.
The HRW report had also mentioned the Supreme Court’s verdict, saying “the Pakistani Supreme Court judgement is just the latest indictment of the NAB’s unlawful behaviour”.
Meanwhile, PPP’s information secretary and MNA Dr Nafisa Shah called for releasing the information about appointments in NAB. She alleged that the appointments had been made in NAB out of merit and the favourites had been given lucrative offices with the task to victimise the opposition.
Dr Shah said in a statement the Supreme Court had also raised a question over the appointments in NAB and the bureau had no justification to continue its actions against the opposition leaders.
Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2020