Public Accounts Committee may summon Justice Iqbal if his tenure as NAB chief is extended

Published September 24, 2021
In this file photo, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal speaking at a ceremony in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV/File
In this file photo, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal speaking at a ceremony in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: The Chair­man of the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hinted on Thursday that the panel might summon the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chief, retired Justice Javed Iqbal, in case the government extended his tenure as chairman of the anti-graft watchdog.

During a meeting in the Parliament House, Chairman Rana Tanveer Hussain said the parliamentary panel “will call him if he [Justice Iqbal] gets an extension”.

The committee was looking into the audit paras issued with regard to NAB. However, the NAB chairman, who is the principal accounting officer of the bureau, was absent.

The members of PAC “felt” the absence of the NAB chairman from the meeting and Mr Hussain said: “The case of NAB chairman’s extension will get more strong the more you will grill [the NAB officials].”

The NAB’s director-general, Zahir Shah, informed the meeting that NAB’s chairman had earlier appeared before the PAC.

The PAC members grilled NAB officials over the inordinate delay in the references of former opposition leader in the National Assembly, Khursheed Shah.

The lawmakers, while sharing their own experiences, also questioned the role of courts and suggested that legislation should be brought for curbing the delays.

They also discussed the inclusion of senior and competent lawyers in NAB’s prosecution team.

Syed Hussain Tariq of the PPP drew the members’ attention to NAB’s progress report, wherein the bureau had admitted that out of 25 audit paras referred to NAB by the incumbent PAC, not a single one had so far been filed in any court.

The NAB report stated that 19 inquiries and investigations were under way, two had been closed, specific instructions by PAC were awaited in two others, and the status of references filed or decided was zero.

The NAB report said 307 paras were referred to the bureau since its inception, which resulted in 198 inquiries, investigations and references, adding that 54 were under progress, 91 were under trial, 13 were concluded and 40 closed.

The bureau, however, took credit for recovery of Rs26,627.37 million and saving $1,242.51m in terms of plea bargain, land value and settlement.

At the outset of the meeting, the PAC welcomed the newly-appointed auditor general, Mohammad Ajmal Gondal.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2021

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