LAHORE: Adviser to Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Shahzad Akbar on Wednesday came up to defend Prime Minister Imran Khan’s tweets wherein he had reiterated his boss’ 22-year-old narrative of exposing corruption, money-laundering and breaking political clouts that struck deals and “NROs to go scot-free”.
“The prime minister is talking about a broader picture revolving around the ruling elite, their corruption and money-laundering,” Mr Akbar said in a press conference held here at the chief minister’s secretariat.
The prime minister, earlier in the day, uploaded three tweets saying that first Panama Papers had “exposed Pakistan’s ruling elites’ corruption and money laundering”. He stated, “Now Broadsheet revelations have again exposed the massive scale of our ruling elites’ corruption and money laundering. These elites cannot hide behind victimisation card on these international revelations”.
In the second tweet, the PM Imran Khan regretted that the ruling elites were given NROs, who had stolen the national wealth, the taxpayers’ money, to recover the looted wealth that was also wasted. “These revelations are [just] tip of the iceberg. We want complete transparency from Broadsheet on our elites money laundering and on who stopped investigations,” he stated.
In the third tweet, the prime minister again chided the ruling elites saying, “They do money laundering to stash their ill-gotten gains abroad, safe from domestic prosecution. They then use their political clout to get NROs. That is how they kept their plundered wealth safe. People of Pakistan are biggest losers”.
Soon after these tweets, Mr Akbar said, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb appeared from nowhere, “beat about the bush” and left, strengthening the prime minister’s narrative that the ruling elites used political clout to protect their corruption and money laundering.
Mr Akbar said the two political parties – the PML-N and the PPP – had always been the beneficiaries of NROs in the year 2000 and 2007. He regretted that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government engaged the two parties’ leaders to discuss the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) laws, but unfortunately they did not even consider national security, and just wanted “personal security”.
“The opposition parties’ only demand was to change 34 clauses, out of the 38 of the NAB law, so that their corruption and money-laundering cases may be closed,” he said.
“Former PM and PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi later complained that these demands were made in the closed doors meeting but the PTI government made them public,” Mr Akbar said and added one of the leaders had even went on to claiming: “This is not a national security but personal security issue”.
Referring to Marriyum Aurangzeb’s allegation that Shahzad Akbar had in 2018 demanded a cut from Kaveh Moussavi upon the payment of his dues by the Pakistan government, the PM’s Adviser challenged Ms Aurangzeb and her leadership to file a complaint against him with the London Metropolitan Police and investigate that who offered bribe to Mr Moussavi. “I will assist you in filing this complaint,” Mr Akbar offered and added that if the PML-N leadership did not apply, he would himself apply for a probe into the allegation.
Later in a tweet, Mr Akbar said, “My lawyers on my instruction have served legal notice to Maryam Aurangzeb for her defamatory statement today. She has been asked to apologise or she will be taken to court.”
Answering a question about PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, the PM’s Adviser said the NAB could go to court for Ms Nawaz’ bail cancellation, if it required her presence in the old or any new case. “Maryam Nawaz’ only wish is to get NRO, but there is no one here to offer her the facility,” he stated.
Mr Akbar asserted that all “deals and NROs” should now end once and for all and all cases instituted against the ruling elites should reach their logical end. “No government should have power to forgive the corrupt, criminal and money launderer,” Mr Akbar said.
Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2021