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Most NRO cases disposed of due to NAB silence

November 24, 2012

KARACHI, Nov 24: Most of the cases revived after the apex court had struck down the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance have been disposed of with all the influential figures in the present government being acquitted due to the silence of the National Accountability Bureau before the trial courts, it emerged on Saturday.

Around 55 references pending against over 65 accused persons, including politicians, bureaucrats and public office holders, were withdrawn between March 2008 and March 2009 under the NRO, promulgated by the then president Pervez Musharraf on Oct 5, 2007.

The ordinance granted amnesty to politicians, political workers and public office-holders accused of corruption, money laundering and murder between Jan 1, 1986 and Oct 12, 1999.

Later, these cases were reopened after the Supreme Court on Dec 16, 2009 declared the controversial law illegal.

Around 45 cases have so far been disposed of with only a few accused persons being convicted, apparently due to lack of interest on part of the prosecuting agency.

All the influential accused, including Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Principal Secretary to the President Salman Farooqui and his brother and former chairman of the Pakistan Steel Mill Usman Farooqui and Sindh minister for local bodies Agha Siraj Durrani, were acquitted within a few months after the revival of their cases because NAB remained silent over their acquittal pleas.

The investigating and prosecuting agency in these cases neither pleaded for the conviction of the four NRO-hit accused nor raised even a single objection against their acquittal.

Mr Malik while being additional director of the FIA in the mid 1990s was accused of misusing his official position and getting allocated 50,000 tonnes of bitumen from the ministry of petroleum and natural resources at a very low rate for a firm of his brother-in-law to send the same to Afghanistan free of central excise duty and income tax. It was alleged that the consignment was dumped in Khyber Agency and sold out in local market at an exorbitant rate, causing a loss of Rs10 to Rs12 million to the national exchequer.

Similarly, in 1995, Salman Farooqui, a former director-general of the Textile Quota Management Directorate and others had been charged with committing financial embezzlement of Rs30 million in the funds of textile quote management.

Usman Farooqui, the then chairman of the Pakistan Steel Mills, had been accused of committing corruption and causing a loss of Rs17 million to the national exchequer during the purchase of ferrous manganese contract in 1995.

As Sindh minister of education in the mid-90s, Agha Siraj Durrani had been charged with allegedly misusing his official position and committing financial irregularities in awarding furniture contracts of Pak-Swedish Technical Institute. Conceding that there was no evidence to prove a case against Mr Durrani, the prosecuting agency neither produced the original documents nor examined a key witness at a relative time.

The court had ruled that the entire case was based upon the documentary evidence, but the prosecution produced the evidence in form of photocopies because the original record that could have corroborated the version of the prosecution was not available with the prosecution. The court also held the prosecution responsible for not examining Imam Bux Soomro, a lone witness, until 2009 when his statement was recorded on a direction of the high court but his evidence then had no useful purpose for the prosecution as he deposed nothing due to paralysis.Siraj Shamsuddin, a former staff secretary of Benazir Bhutto, M.B. Abbasi, a former chairman of the now defunct National Development Finance Corporation, Chaudhry Mohammad Sharif, deputy director of the Federal Investigation Agency and Mohammad Younus Dalia of the HBL were also among the accused acquitted after the revival of their cases.

Custom collector Mohammad Nawaz Butt, assistant collector Mumtaz Ali Changezi, inspector custom Khalid Aziz, former assistant vice president Pir Deedar Ahmed Sarhandi and assistant director of the FIA Agha Ishrat Ali were among the convicted accused.