NAB blowing its own trumpet?

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Amraiz Khan

THOUGH the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is blowing its own trumpet over its annual performance but the voices coming from independent quarters especially the Supreme Court and Senate of Pakistan are entirely different.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday came hard on NAB saying that the anti-graft watchdog always punishes people accused of petty offences and leaves untouched the principal accused named in corruption references.

A three-judge bench made above said observation during the hearing of a bail plea filed by Dinshaw Hoshang Anklesaria, a businessman facing corruption references in the Bahria Icon Towers case. Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi were part of the bench.

The Supreme Court advised NAB to amend section 9 of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) if it wanted to “impose its own will instead of going by the rules”. The court warned NAB officials of not doing homework before attending hearings and said that this attitude resulted in criticism of the judiciary. “Not only ordinary people but also the Supreme Court has a negative impression about NAB,” a judge remarked.

Quite a few days back Senate Deputy Chairperson Saleem Mandviwalla claimed that the National Accountability Bureau for Kills people and drops off their bodies at hospitals.

Quoting a report of a former Senator Sehar Kamran he said that NAB is allegedly responsible for causing 12 deaths. He was of the view that the reason behind the silence of the human rights bodies is that they believed that by raising voice against killings in their custody will bring a bad name to Pakistan.

Mandviwalla said, “Women call and narrate what the NAB has done to them and their families. This institution is killing people and, when they die, it leaves their bodies in the hospital. Here is a list of the people who expired in the custody of the anti-graft watchdog.

Brig ® Asad Munir committed suicide to escape humiliation by NAB. The retired Army officer in his message requested the country’s chief justice to take notice of NAB authorities’ conduct “so those other innocent people may not face the wrath of the authorities for the undone crimes. One Aslam Masood was extradited to Pakistan from Saudi Arabia in February 2019. During NAB custody he suffered cardiac arrest and died.

Advocate Zafar Iqbal Mughal was arrested on Oct 11, 2019. He remained more than 86 days in NAB custody in the meanwhile his health deteriorated and he was shifted to hospital where he breathed his last. Raja Asim remained in their custody for five years during which he died.

Muhammad Nasir Sheikh of KDA, Prof Dr Tahir Amin of BZ University, Multan, Muhammad Saleem of the Lahore Development Authority, Qaiser Abbas, Chaudhry Arshad of Rawalpindi, Prof Javed Ahmad was arrested by NAB and sent to Lahore camp jail on judicial
remand. He died in jail. Abdul Qavi of KDA and Aijaz Memon suffered a heart attack in Sukkur jail.

NAB laws were introduced by former Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sahrif and Saif ur Rehman was appointed its first Chairman. At that time also it was used to victimize political opponents of the country.

Then General Musharraf came into power and NAB was also used by the government to teach lessons to its political opponents. Then PPP took over in the country and tried to change the laws of the NAB but Nawaz Sharif opposed the amendments in NAB laws.

PPP also tried to make amendments in 18th amendment but once again Nawaz opposed that idea and ultimately Nawaz fell prey to the same laws.

The present Prime Minister is also not in favour of any amendment in NAB laws.
NAB could file references in only 18 percent cases registered with it.
Since NAB investigators try to make plea bargains through which they receive a specific chunk of the recovered money.

A spokesman for the National Accountability Bureau, Lahore chapter issues thorough comparative performance report and said that NAB Lahore received a total of 5023 Complaints during the year 2020 while by clearing the backlog

of last year (2019) a sum of 9024 Complaints have been treated and completed. Currently, around 575 Complaints are being under process in the Regional Bureau.
During the year 2020, NAB Lahore authorised 26 Investigations while 7 Investigations were closed down following non-availability of concrete evidence. Into the bargain, 26 Investigations were converted into References and 1 Investigation ended with

Plea Bargain (PB) with the accused.
Moreover, the Combined Investigation Teams (CIT) are busy in investigating a total of 46 Investigations till now. Till the end of 2020, NAB Prosecution Wing filed 38 References in Accountability Courts of Lahore but comparatively the amount involved in References filed during earlier 16 years (1999-2016) and the last three years under the current leadership of NAB, shows an abrupt increase of 286 percent, annually.

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