LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has decided to review over 1,200 references pending trial to remove any possible shortcomings so that maximum conviction can be ensured. Some of these references have been filed against politicians.

“A total of 1,270 references, including the old ones worth Rs1,386 billion, are being reviewed afresh to see whether they are weak (having any deficiency in terms of evidence). We have to see whether witnesses appear in some references. There are some shortcomings. Besides, we will see whether 10- to 12-year-old appeals (filed by NAB) are on merit; if not, then they may be withdrawn,” NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal announced and added if he had the authority to decide the references they would not have taken years.

Mr Iqbal was speaking at a ceremony held to distribute cheques worth Rs338 million among the victims of Toyota Gujranwala Motors and Public Health Engineering Cooperative Housing Society scams at the NAB provincial headquarters here on Thursday.

The NAB chairman advised the bureau’s critics to go to courts if they believed it had instituted a false case against them. “The NAB has started a war (against) corruption and this will continue,” he declared.

Chairman says ‘storm in a teacup’ created about recoveries

In an apparent advice to the Imran Khan government over the state of Madina, he said: “If we have to realise the dream of Riasat-i-Madina then there is a need for self-accountability.”

In an indirect reference to the Sharif and Zardari families, the NAB’s chief said: “If billions of rupees were shown in the accounts of different vendors and money laundering worth billions has been committed then those allegedly involved in it are summoned.”

PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif, his son Hamza, and former president Asif Ali Zardari are facing money laundering accusations wherein the accounts of their benamis contained billions of rupees.

Responding to his critics in the opposition parties, Mr Iqbal clarified the bureau’s loyalties were not with the government. “NAB’s loyalties are only with the state; it is not pro-government,” he said and clarified that if someone had any evidence of NAB officials taking bribes they must come forward. “Bring me evidence of the involvement of any NAB official in taking bribes and I will initiate action within 48 hours,” he said.

Responding to criticism over Rs450bn supposed to be deposited by a property tycoon, Mr Iqbal said: “Questions are being asked where the Rs450bn deposited by a certain person has gone. I want to tell those who are raising a hue and cry that the amount has been deposited with the Supreme Court.”

In an apparent response to the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly that directed the NAB chairman to submit details of financial recoveries made by the bureau, Mr Iqbal said a “storm in a teacup” was created regarding the bureau’s recoveries.

“Major recoveries made by the NAB are not in the form of cash or currency, but land — houses/plots — recovered from the land mafia,” he said, adding that a complete audit of the NAB’s last three years had been carried out and no irregularity found.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2021

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