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– File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has suggested to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that financial details of candidates for national and provincial assemblies be scrutinised after elections and not during electioneering. The NAB believes that details of thousands of candidates cannot be completed within the limited time given for the purpose by the ECP.

“We have suggested to the Election Commission of Pakistan to give up the useless marathon exercise of scrutiny of all candidates because it is impossible for the commission to complete the job in a week time,” NAB chairman retired Admiral Fasih Bokhari told media personnel here on Thursday.

Under the formula presented by the NAB, it would be easy to check about 700 people after their election as members of national and provincial assemblies that whether they meet the criteria of Article 62 and 63 of the constitution or whether they have evaded any tax and defaulted any bank loan and utility dues.

However, it is generally believed that it will become difficult for both ECP and NAB to take action against politicians once they are elected as members of national and provincial assemblies.

The NAB chairman is of the opinion that if action is taken against candidates they will be barred from contesting the coming elections and it can be considered that their political parties are being victimised.

Giving details of electricity and bank defaulters and those who have availed plea bargain deals with the NAB, Mr Bokhari said there were more than 200,000 electricity defaulters and number of bank loan defaulters and the number of those who went for plea bargain was more than 50,000.

The NAB, he said, had initially received names of 200 candidates from the ECP who would be scrutinised. “More name are coming from the ECP,” Mr Bokhari said.

Answering a question about electricity defaulters, he said more than 200,000 power defaulters had been given a chance to pay their dues till April 19, otherwise their names would given to the media and they would be tried under criminal proceedings.

RENTAL POWER PROJECTS: Talking about Rs22 billion RPPs scam and status of former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in it, Mr Bokhari said there were 12 different cases of RPPs being investigated by the NAB and he believed that the investigation on the cases could take more than five years.

He said although NAB investigators had filed a report in the Supreme Court against Mr Ashraf, they had so far failed to collect credible evidences against him. “A preliminary report submitted in the Supreme Court against the former prime minister was incomplete and had not been presented before me.” Therefore, he added, it was impossible to take action on the basis of an incomplete report.

“However, if credible evidences are brought to me against Mr Ashraf, he would definitely be taken to task,” the NAB chairman said.

EXPECTED CONCIVTION: Answering a question about the possibility of his conviction in a contempt of court case the hearing of which is next week, Mr Bokhari said he did know what would be the decision of the apex court.

He, however, was of the opinion that he could not be declared a convict unless a proper procedure to review his case by the judicial commission was adopted.

Talking about the Transparency International’s corruption perception index, the NAB chairman said since 1995 Pakistan’s position on the absolute index stood from 2.3 to 2.5 which meant that there were serious flaws in existing system which needed to be addressed.

He said there was a nexus of politicians, bureaucracy and the private sector behind unbridled corruption in the country and the NAB was working hard to break this nexus.

As a first step in its ‘awareness and prevention regime’, the NAB was checking corruption in the bureaucracy. “We call officials of the Planning Commission and other government departments and ask them to provide details of mega projects. We are trying to strengthen the bureaucracy so that it can get out of the influence of politicians,” he added.