ISLAMABAD: The shocking allegations levelled against former National Accoun­tability Bureau head retired Justice Javed Iqbal must be investigated with transparency and independence, and he should be removed from office if these allegations are proved, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said on Friday.

The commission said it took “serious note of the allegations of sexual harassment” levelled against the official, who was also chairman of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (COIED).

“It is of a grave concern to the HRCP that these allegations were levelled by a woman who had approached Justice Iqbal in his capacity as COIED chairman — a position in which he was responsible for protecting [Tayyaba] Gul’s testimony and securing her right to seek justice for a missing relative,” says a commission statement.

Not only has Justice Iqbal allegedly abu­sed his office in two capacities, but he has also failed to appear before the Public Accounts Committee to answer these char­ges.

The HRCP said it will follow up this demand for investigation and the process in the Public Accounts Committee.

On Thursday, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly was stunned by the testimony of a woman who disclosed under oath that she was treated inhumanely and even strip-searched by officials of the accountability bureau.

She also alleged that the Prime Minister Office used her case to secure its personal gains by blackmailing the NAB hierarchy and misusing evidence.

Testifying before the PAC, Tayyaba Gul had alleged that Azam Khan, former principal secretary to prime minister Imran Khan, respectively, had invited her for a meeting after she lodged a complaint on the Citizen Portal.

In the complaint, she had accused then-NAB chairman Justice Iqbal of sexual harassment and had also attached screenshots from secretly-recorded footage.

She had told the PAC that Azam Khan asked for the video and assured her they would take action against Mr Iqbal, but the video was later aired on a television channel.

Ms Gul accused the PM Office of using the video to pressurise the then-NAB chief in a bid to get NAB inquires dropped.

PAC Chairman Noor Alam Khan has already called for the suspension of Justice Iqbal and other officials.

Malik Asad also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2022

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