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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

A step in the right direction: NAB to focus on mega corruption cases only

The incumbent government has lessened the burden and allowed the NAB to focus on mega corruption cases only, which in principle is a laudable decision. The government also considered not to allow the NAB to probe into matters related to private citizens. These steps are being hailed as steps in the right direction.

News Analysis |

In a much-awaited move, the federal government has directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to focus on mega corruption cases and refer petty cases to other concerned departments. Reports suggest that the anti-corruption watchdog has started referring petty cases to the provinces or other authorities after it formally received the instructions of the federal government.

It is important to note that in April this year the Chairman NAB directed the officials to take 179 mega corruption cases to their logical end. The NAB chairman was heading a meeting at the NAB headquarters when he reportedly said that all cases, especially those pertaining to mega corruption, were being pursued rigorously. He assured that cases wouldn’t prolong for years in the accountability watchdog.

The chairman was told during a briefing that NAB had so far filed 105 references in total 179 mega corruption cases. It was informed that inquiries in 15 cases while investigation in 18 cases was underway.

The board sent a case of Jan Mohammad Memon, an account holder of Allied Bank Limited branch in Hyderabad, to the Auditor General, Sindh for further legal action.

It is worth mentioning here that the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the NAB, to conclude all investigations into these mega cases by Dec 31, 2015 on July 7, 2015. The court also expressed displeasure over the cases pending for over a decade with no real progress. Later on, the NAB had sought an extension of three months. The SC, however, instructed to present a final report to the court by the termination of the requested extension on March 31, 2016.

As the new Chairman assumed the office, the prosecution division of the bureau was immediately ordered to finalize all 179 mega corruption investigations as soon as possible. It was revealed during a performance review meeting of NAB chaired by Justice Iqbal that investigations into 101 cases had been concluded, and references had been filed in the respective accountability courts, where the corruption cases would be adjudicated in accordance with the law.

Moreover, currently the NAB is working on 19 inquiries and 23 investigations, while 36 cases have already been disposed of.

The 179 mega corruption cases were lodged against the industrialists, traders, senior bureaucrats and prominent politicians, including the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif (case under investigation), Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif (case under investigation), ex-president Asif Ali Zardari (case under trial), former prime ministers Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf (cases under trial), former federal minister Dr Asim Hussain (a case under trial and two others under investigation), former prime minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain (case under investigation), ex-CM Punjab Chaudhry Pervez Elahi (case under investigation), former chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Amir Haider Khan Hoti (case under investigation), former chief minister of Balochistan Aslam Raisani, (inquiry under progress) former communication minister Arbab Jahangir and his wife Begum Asma Arbab (case under investigation), MPA Asif Nakai (case under investigation), MNA Syed Iftikhar Shah (case under investigation), former minister Murid Kazim (case under investigation), former chairmen of NICL Ayaz Khan and Javed Akram (case under trial) and former chairman of Evacuee Trust Property Asif Hashim (case under inquiry).

Read more: Corruption & Pakistan: Only one thing can stay

Interestingly, among the 179 cases of mega corruption, 22 are related to financial corruption, 27 to housing societies and 71 pertained to corruption and misuse of authority by high-ranking public officials.

On Wednesday, a meeting of the board presided over by NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal on Wednesday sent a case against Mohammad Usman, Chairman of Qila Abdullah District Council, to the Anti-Corruption Department, Balochistan.

The meeting referred to the cases of buying land in Sarai Kharboza against officers of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and management and others of the Multi-Professional Cooperative Housing Society to the CDA for further legal action.

It authorized referring the cases against officers/officials of Swat University and others; officers/officials of Revenue Department, Charsadda and others; Directorate of Civil Defence, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; officers/officials of District Education Office, Kohat and others to the chief secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as per law.

The board sent a case of Jan Mohammad Memon, an account holder of Allied Bank Limited branch in Hyderabad, to the Auditor General, Sindh for further legal action.

The board authorized investigations against officers of the land utilization department, government of Sindh, and others and officers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Oil and Gas Company Limited.

The meeting referred a case to the Local Bodies Department, Punjab, against the management of Faisalabad Parking Company Limited, officers/officials and management of Lahore Division Cattle Market Management Committee and others.

The meeting approved inquiries against Pace Pakistan Private Limited and others; Commoners Sky Garden Private Limited and officials/officers of Revenue Department; retired Brig Mohammad Farooq Maan, former chairman PCBL; Hasnain Cotex; Rawat Developers and others; officers/officials of PIA; officers/officials of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zone Development and Management Company, Peshawar and others; Management of Balochistan Development Authority; Health Department Quetta and others; Children Hospital Multan; officers and officials of District Accounts Office, Multan and others; Health Department Quetta and others; Children Hospital Multan, District Accounts Office Multan’s officers/officials and others; Ahmed Khan Baloch, former member of the Punjab Assembly and others; Arif Ibrahim, former Secretary Finance, Gilgit-Baltistan and others.

The board authorized investigations against officers of the land utilization department, government of Sindh, and others and officers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Oil and Gas Company Limited.

Read more: NAB should not act against business community: PM advisor Abdul Razak Dawood

The meeting approved closing down the cases against Chaudhry Mohammad Qasim, Chief Executive/ Director, Chaudhry Group of Industries (Chaudhry Cable Private Limited and Chaudhry Wire Rope Industries Private Limited Lahore) and others; owners/directors of Hasnain Cosmetics Private Limited; officers of C and D Department, Punjab; Management of Punjab Culture and Outreach Company; management, officers of Capital Market Management Company, Dera Ghazi Khan; management, officers of Punjab Population Innovation Fund Company and others; management, officers of Punjab Working Women Endowment; and Malik Qasim, member of the Punjab Assembly, due to lack of incriminating evidence.