IHC to hear petition against NAB chief in Musharraf assets case

Published January 29, 2022
Former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf. — AFP/File
Former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) will hear on Monday a petition seeking contempt of court proceedings against the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman for not acting against former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf for his alleged corruption during his tenure as the country’s president.

As per the cause list issued by the court’s registrar office, a bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan will hear the case.

An IHC division bench had on Jan 25, 2018 held that NAB could proceed against retired generals over corruption charges.

The judgement cleared a 19-year-old ambiguity in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) of 1999 due to which the anti-corruption watchdog had always been reluctant to proceed against retired army officers despite complaints of massive corruption.

Petitioner wants former military ruler tried for ‘corruption’

The bench was hearing the petition filed by retired Lt Col Inamur Rahim seeking NAB’s inquiry into allegations that Mr Musharraf in his nomination papers had declared assets beyond his known sources of income.

In his complaint filed some nine years ago, Mr Rahim, also an advocate, asked NAB to hold an inquiry into the allegation that the retired general in his nomination papers had declared assets beyond his known sources of income. In a 2013 letter, the bureau informed Mr Rahim that his complaint could not be entertained for want of jurisdiction because Mr Musharraf was immune from proceedings under the NAO as a member of the armed forces.

However, in a landmark judgement issued in February 2018, the court ruled: “The bureau is vested with the power and jurisdiction to consider the complaint of the petitioner and after such consideration if it is of the opinion that an offence under the Ordinance of 1999 is prima facie made out, then it will become a duty of the latter to proceed to inquire, investigate and take all other steps mandated under the Ordinance of 1999.”

The petitioner argued that Mr Musharraf, as the chief of the army staff and the country’s president, violated his oath of defending the country and protecting its citizens.

Referring to page 237 of Mr Musharraf’s book, In the Line of Fire, and its chapter titled ‘Man Hunt’, Mr Rahim pointed out that the former military ruler admitted to handing over many people to the United States to make money.

The petitioner also alleged that Mr Musharraf “injected corruption into the senior hierarchy of the armed forces by allotting them plots over and above their entitlements”.

In the contempt petition, Mr Rahim stated that Mr Musharraf illegally disposed of thousands of acres of precious lands situated in different cantonments, violating the rules and regulations in this regard. In the Karachi cantonment alone, some 2,125 acres were disposed of, whose details had already been provided to NAB.

Besides, a list of properties worth billions of rupees allegedly grabbed by Mr Musharraf was also forwarded to NAB, Mr Rahim said, adding that those properties had never been disclosed by the retired general earlier as he neither submitted his income tax returns nor paid any tax during his tenure as per a Federal Board of Revenue’s report issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan.

The petitioner, citing NAB’s standard operating procedures, pointed out that the bureau could have completed the inquiry within four months, followed by an investigation in another four months, after which the maximum extended period by the NAB’s regional director general is one month. Therefore, the case must have been developed enough to be placed before an accountability court within nine months.

He said that following the court’s directives, NAB only issued a call-up notice to the petitioner and did not make any further effort.

Highlighting recent statements of the NAB chairman that 1,194 accused people had been convicted by accountability courts, the petitioner pointed out that a person, who injected corruption in the senior hierarchy of the armed forces to get their support and did political manoeuvring and engineering with the help of NAB laws and misused his authority by making and breaking political alliances, is still at large.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2022

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