LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has decided in principle not to launch a probe against civil servants on ‘anonymous complains’ and without taking the chief secretary on board.

NAB Chairman retired Lt-Gen Nazir Ahmad Butt said this during an interaction with officers at the Punjab Civil Secretariat here on Monday.

“The inquiry against any bureaucrat will be kept secret until completed as there will be no media trial. Besides, it has been decided that [any case that is] 10 years old will not open,” he said and also ordered formation of a committee comprising the chief secretary, additional chief secretary and law secretary to assess the NAB complaints against any officer.

The NAB chief will hold a meeting with the chief secretary after every two months regarding the probes against bureaucrats and during the course of investigation the word ‘suspect’ (for a civil servant) will not be used.

Gen Butt assures officers of secrecy in investigations to avoid media trial

Like politicians, the civil servants too have strong reservations with regard to NAB for their ‘media trial.’ Both are of the view that the bureau should not be used for political victimisation. Of late, the NAB’s role has been questioned for giving ‘a clean chit’ to the PML-N leadership, especially the Sharif brothers, whom the bureau had earlier accused of massive corruption.

The NAB chief further said the secrecy of every accused person would be maintained at every level, whether it is a complaint verification or an investigation in NAB cases.

“The accused persons will be addressed as ‘respondents’ in the future. The philosophy of NAB is to catch thieves and not to hold media trials in any case. In the background of public interest and welfare, NAB has started organising monthly open courts at every regional bureau which will be personally supervised by the director general of the respective bureau.”

In a separate ceremony, the NAB chairman distributed properties documents and cheques worth Rs3.5bn among the victims of housing scams. These include 10 properties in Lahore worth Rs436m, given to the Punjab government, a property located in Islamabad costing Rs200m given to the ministry of housing, Islamabad.

During the ceremony, a cheque amounting to Rs110m was handed over to the representative of Crescent Bank, and two others of Rs2.28bn and Rs460million, respectively, were distributed among the victims of Eden and Model Housing projects.

Mr Butt said seven out of every 10 people were victims of housing scheme frauds, adding that NAB was proposing a new policy to protect the citizens against such scams.

All stakeholders would be included in the new housing sector policy, he said. “Now the transaction between the builder and the buyer will be three-way, instead of two-way. The regulator will be a part of every transaction, along with the builder. The transactions will be made through the banking channel, no cash payment will be allowed,” Mr Butt said.

NAB Lahore DG Amjad Majeed Aulakh said an amount of Rs3.5bn had been recovered by the Lahore bureau. He said the NAB Lahore had already distributed Rs4bn in June last year.

Meanwhile, separately talking to reporters here, PML-N Punjab president Rana Sanaullah said that the new parliament would decide the fate of the NAB.

“The new parliament will decide on its own whether to disband NAB or not. A good number of PML-N leaders, including Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, have been demanding shutting of NAB, terming it an impediment to the country’s progress.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2023

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