ISLAMABAD: The National Account­­­ability Bureau (NAB) has closed an inquiry against caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar, the graft watchdog told Dawn on Monday.

But in contrast to NAB’s official position, sources claimed that the file of the case against the caretaker PM was still “on the NAB chief’s table” since the executive board was incomplete following the departure of key officials.

NAB had previously opened an inquiry against then-Senator Kakar on allegations of corruption and corrupt practices in connection with an NGO named ‘Voice of Balochistan’.

The inquiry had remained pending for some time, with NAB Balochistan writing to the provincial government in 2021 for information regarding the NGO and its registration.

Watchdog says decision taken in executive board meeting; sources say file ‘still on NAB chief’s table’

But when the Supreme Court issued its recent judgement overturning amendments to the NAB law, introduced by the previous government, media reports attributed to NAB surfaced, claiming that the inquiry initiated against the caretaker PM had been “closed on merit”.

The reports came in the wake of apprehensions that the caretaker premier may also join the list of politicians whose graft cases stood revived following the SC verdict.

PM Kakar had also said during a recent media appearance that the inquiry against him had been closed.

Dawn submitted a written questionnaire to the accountability watchdog, and in its official response, the watchdog endorsed the premier’s claim.

“It is apprised that case of Mr Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, Caretaker PM, after inquiry at NAB Balochistan was recommended on merit for closure, which was accordingly considered at NAB HQ and closure of the case was approved well before the resignations of [the prosecutor general] and deputy chairman, by the complete executive board,” the official response from NAB said.

“NAB considers all cases on merit and strictly adheres to the policy of across-the-board accountability without any fear or favour,” it said.

Sources in the bureau said that in order to close the case for good, approval was required from the anti-graft watchdog’s executive board.

But, sources claimed, no executive board meeting had taken place after the resignations of the prosecutor general and the deputy chairman. However, NAB’s official response insisted that approval to close the case had been sought before the resignations of two key officials.

The apex court decision, the last to be issued by ex-CJP Umar Ata Bandial, had effectively restored all white-collar crime cases involving less than Rs500 million.

Under the last government’s amendments to the NAB law, such cases against bureaucrats and political leaders belonging to different political parties had been closed down.

But the fresh verdict has resulted in the reopening of cases against seven former prime ministers — Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan, Shehbaz Sharif, Yousaf Raza Gillani, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Shaukat Aziz — besides former president Asif Ali Zardari.

Other bigwigs whose cases have been reopened include former ministers Khawaja Saad Rafiq, Khawaja Asif, Rana Sanaullah, Javed Latif, Akram Durrani, Saleem Mandviwalla, Shaukat Tarin, Pervez Khattak, Amir Mehmood Kiani, Khusro Bakhtiar and Faryal Talpur as well as former chief ministers of Punjab and Sindh, Hamza Shehbaz and Syed Murad Ali Shah.

Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2023

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