Importance of accountability

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NEWS & VIEWS
Mohammad Jamil
ON July 28, 2017, 5-member Bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan had disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and given six weeks to the National Accountability Bureau to complete interrogation and file reference against him before the accountability court. Reportedly, the NAB issued summons to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his sons Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz to appear before NAB’s Lahore office on August 18 in the Al-Azizia Steel Mill case. However, PML-N sources said that they will not appear before the NAB team, as they did not receive notices from the NAB. Secondly, Husain and Hassan Nawaz are not in the country; and thirdly NAB would be asked to send questionnaire, as was done in case of former PMs Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Yousuf Raza Gilani. Meanwhile, the NAB has also written a letter to the SECP seeking record of companies of Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar, his wife, two sons and his daughter-in-law.
The JIT report stated: “The role of off-shore companies is critically important as several offshore companies have been identified to be linked with their businesses in UK while conducting this investigation. These companies were mainly used for inflow of funds into UK-based companies; which not only acquired expensive properties in UK from such funds but also revolve these funds amongst their companies of UK, KSA, UAE and Pakistan.” During 2010 to 2015 Hussain Nawaz’s Hill Metals company 4,042,603 dollars were sent to Nawaz Shairf during this tenure who received 8,913,301 dollars in terms of gifts from Hill Metals. Husain Nawaz also made remittances of around Rs 69.228 million to his sister from HME in 2008 and 2009. JIT report stated that Hussain Nawaz did not present any documents regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mill. The JIT also revealed that furnaces, heavy duty overhead cranes and other equipment were imported from India, which speaks volumes about Sharifs connection with Indian metal industries.
In ARY’s TV talk show “Power Play” Arshad Sharif made startling disclosures based on investigating reports and JIT report stating that Hussain Nawaz had developed business relations with various Indian business tycoons and companies. Al-Azizia Steel was setup in 2001, whereas Hill Metal has been in business with Major Indian companies transacting millions of dollars. JIT had taken pains to find the documents, and extract from Management report regarding SAR 35 Million Melting Expansion project revealed that the equipment Inductotherm Furnace and Danieli Caster was of Indian origin. Hill Metal Establishment Receipt and Payment Accounts — July 01, 2009 to August 17, 2010 showed multiple payments to Indian origin companies. Flag F referred to transfer letter to Al-Rajhi bank for transferring US $ 825,000 amount to Inductotherm (private) Limited, India. Flag G — Advice of Receipt from Saudi Hollandi Bank regarding details of bill from AXIS Bank for OCL, INDIA.
Recently, Indian Express in its report stated: “Sajjan Jindal has business ties with Sharif’s family, as his company had business dealings with the Ittefaq Group of Industries, a Pakistani integrated steel producer with major operations in Punjab. Sources claimed that frequent visits of Sajjan Jindal to Islamabad were aimed to push to obtain the transit facility from Pakistan government to transport iron ore by road from Hajigak iron ore deposits in the Bamian, Afghanistan, to Karachi. From the Pakistani port, the ore was to be shipped to western and southern parts of India. As per 2011 agreement between India and Pakistan, Sajjan’s JSW and Naveen’s Jindal Steel and Power Limited, who are part of a consortium led by state-owned SAIL, along with Monnet Ispat and AFISCO (Afghan Iron), would construct steel mill with the capacity of 1- million-tonne a year, and develop the 1.8-billion-tonne iron-ore reserves at Hajigak, Afghanistan.
In June 2005, the Saudi authorities had seized a scrap shredder plant allegedly imported from Israel by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Under the Saudi laws, all Israeli items are banned in the kingdom. Reportedly, documents were forged to import the plant under a deal struck by Sharif’s company Hill Metals Establishment located at Jeddah. The plant manufactured by Seram UK Limited had been sold to an Israeli company and was currently lying as scrap there.” The purchase deal was signed in Jeddah by Hussain Nawaz Sharif in his capacity as the Managing Director of Al-Azizia Steel and Hill Metals Establishment and Roy Woolcock of the Seram UK Limited, who reportedly represented the Israeli company. A letter of credit worth four million Saudi Riyals was opened by Hill Metals Establishment through National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia for importing the plant.
The plant was ferried on 17 trailers from Israel via Jordan’s “Zarqa Free Zone”. Abu Amir was appointed Customs Clearing Agent for handling the consignment in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi authorities got suspicious of the plant and discovered that the trade labels of the Israeli company were scratched; repainted and documents were accordingly prepared to cover up the original identity of the equipment. That point besides, many analysts and patriotic Pakistanis had taken exception to personal relations between Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Many in Pakistan had raised eyebrows after Sajjan Jindal’s secret meeting with the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in May 2017 to convey message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reportedly the message was that he would see Sharif again next month to initiate dialogue between the two nations, which could not materialize due to Nawaz Sharif’s ‘preoccupation’ with the Panama leaks case.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.
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