The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has informed an accountability court in Lahore that no evidence of wrongdoing was found against Ahad Khan Cheema — the special assistant to the caretaker prime minister — during an investigation in connection with an assets beyond means case from 2018, it emerged today.

The development caps a remarkable turnaround as five years ago the Bureau itself had accused Cheema of holding property worth billions of rupees in the name of his family members.

He was the first high-profile arrest in Punjab during NAB’s crackdown against corruption in 2018 — seemingly targeted against leaders of the PML-N and those close to it — before the general elections.

The bureau had arrested him on February 21, 2018, when he appeared before its investigation team in an inquiry into the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme.

Later, the NAB had also initiated separate inquiries against him, one involving the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) City and assets beyond means. Cheema was granted bail in all three cases in April 2021.

Cheema was cleared of the charges by the bureau along with former prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, in the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme case on May 20 this.

In the latest development, the NAB submitted a report to the Lahore accountability court, asserting that the investigation showed the probe against Cheema was not warranted under the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.

“… the updated cash flow position of the accused remained in positive balance in the cash flow chart, which shows that he has not acquired any assets beyond his known sources of income or which he could reasonably account for,” said the NAB’s response, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com.

It further added: “After taking into account evidence collected during re-investigation proceedings, the case against accused is not made out under the provisions of NAO, 1999.”

The watchdog clarified that the properties supposedly owned by alleged “benamidars” could not be linked to Cheema. It emphasised that the accounts held by Cheema’s relatives were not “benami” (undeclared) accounts belonging to him.

The accountability watchdog also highlighted that Cheema provided details of his income to the NAB, and it was examined during the course of the investigation.

The NAB urged the court to decide the matter in accordance with the law“.

It is pertinent to mention here that the accountability court will hear the acquittal plea filed by Cheema on Dec 2.

Opinion

Editorial

Silencing the public
Updated 21 Feb, 2024

Silencing the public

Acting as if it is unaccountable, it is now curtailing citizens’ digital rights without even bothering to come up with a justification.
Fitch’s concern
21 Feb, 2024

Fitch’s concern

AS political parties scramble to form a potentially weak coalition at the centre, the uncertainty unleashed by the...
Zoo zealotry
21 Feb, 2024

Zoo zealotry

IN a bizarre twist of faith and fur, the Indian right-wing Hindu nationalist group, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has...
Open the books
Updated 20 Feb, 2024

Open the books

Irregularities have been so widespread that even otherwise impartial observers are joining the chorus of voices demanding a recount.
BRICS candidacy
Updated 20 Feb, 2024

BRICS candidacy

For Pakistan to successfully join BRICS or compete in other arenas internationally, the political instability at home needs to be addressed.
Pneumonia menace
20 Feb, 2024

Pneumonia menace

PANIC is on the rise as the alarming surge in pneumonia cases has created an explosion of headlines — sans...