Closing down NAB will only benefit the elite: Javed Iqbal

Staff Reporter

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal on Tuesday once again defended the anti-corruption watchdog against allegations of bias and committing excesses, saying closing down NAB will only benefit the elite. Speaking to a group of traders in Peshawar, Iqbal said NAB had always been the subject of a “nefarious propaganda” and allegations were levelled against it.

“And the only basic reason for that was that people hadn’t imagined even in their dreams that someone could ask them [about their wealth],” he added.

Iqbal said the accountability watchdog had recovered Rs487 billion ill-gotten money in a period of three years, while Rs2.5bn were recovered from a housing scheme by NAB Lahore and distributed among the affectees. Recalling that persons holding power in the past had suggested closing down the bureau, he said: “Should NAB be shut only because it asked you where you acquired these billions of rupees from?”

The NAB chairman said when persons suspected of misappropriating huge sums of money were questioned about them, their first response was accusing the bureau of “intiqami karwai” (acts of vengeance). Iqbal said he had spent all his life in Balochistan and he was not familiar with most people whose cases were currently being heard. “So there is no question of [taking] personal revenge,” he added.

The NAB chairman said he was also accused by critics of having political affiliations, adding that he wasn’t aware what the term actually referred to. “My personal interest and that of NAB is only with Pakistan,” he said. “Closing down NAB will only benefit the elite or those millionaires who wanted to become billionaires but incidentally due to NAB that dream couldn’t be fulfilled.”

“That is why they were sad and shocked that there’s an institution in Pakistan that can ask where these billions of dollars and rupees came from,” he added. Iqbal said when poor people were held accountable, then the elite should not be exempt from questions either. “NAB’s biggest crime is that it asked these people how they wasted away so much of the nation’s money and the country’s economy,” he emphasised.