Dissolve NAB and hold its employees accountable, Abbasi tells new govt

Published April 12, 2022
PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi talks to media in Islamabad.—DawnNewsTV
PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi talks to media in Islamabad.—DawnNewsTV

PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday told the newly-elected government, which is being led by his party's president, Shehbaz Sharif, to dissolve the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and hold its employees accountable.

"NAB's employees looted and tortured people for years. It's time they should be held accountable," he said at a media talk in Islamabad today morning.

Abbasi came down on the chairman of the bureau, accusing him of "being fully under control" of PTI Chairman and former PM Imran Khan. "He used to take instructions [from the previous government]."

He claimed that there was a minister in Imran Khan's office who used to issue orders to the NAB chief regarding lodging fake cases, arresting people and defaming them. "This is your NAB chairman ... who stayed quiet on Imran Khan's corruption," the PML-N leader added.

Read: No need for NAB

He also lamented that NAB couldn't prove a single reference or inquiry against PML-N leaders in the last four years. "Why didn't they investigate people who were involved in corruption worth billions [of rupees] and were sitting in the federal cabinet," Abbasi demanded.

Now, he announced, was time to hold NAB accountable. "We are not taking revenge from anyone. We just want to expose the reality of NAB in front of the public. Accountability exists in the country but if you want to indulge in corruption, go to NAB," Abbasi said.

He also revealed that the government would move courts for the installation of cameras inside NAB courts so that the "public knows who is actually involved in corruption".

"We won't arrest anyone. Weak people like the NAB chairman will be the first person to arrested Imran Khan's people. But this is not our way," Abbasi pointed out, adding that the PML-N had always maintained its honour and respect in politics.

Whatever happened in the last four years, he reiterated, would be kept in front of the public.

PTI, PML-N at odds over NAB

Yesterday, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif was elected as the 23rd prime minister of Pakistan following Imran Khan's ouster after a successful no-confidence movement.

As he was being ousted from power, Imran Khan claimed the joint opposition, which was behind the no-confidence move against him, wanted to form a government just to de-fang the watchdog to protect their "looted wealth" and get away with the corruption investigations under way against them.

NAB and its powers have been a sticking point between the PML-N and the PTI for the past three years, with several PML-N and PPP leaders facing cases lodged by the corruption watchdog.

When the PTI came to power in 2018, Imran Khan had claimed that the accountability bureau would unveil Shehbaz and Nawaz Sharif's corruption to the public and punish them for looting the public's money.

Meanwhile, then-opposition parties PPP and PML-N repeatedly accused the Imran-led PTI government and the corruption watchdog of a biased, one-sided, and politically motivated witch-hunt. They also said that the government and NAB had developed a nexus to target opposition members.

The rift increased when the government promulgated the National Accounta­bility (Third Amendment) Ordinance 2021 last year. The law stripped the Sup­reme Judicial Council (SJC) of the powers to remove the NAB chairman and authorised the president to do so.

Then too, PPP and PML-N had termed the ordinance "political vendetta" and "an attempt to usurp the powers of the judiciary and bring NAB under the direct control of the prime minister".

Abbasi had also said that the only purpose of the NAB ordinance was to target the PML-N.

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