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NAB chairman expresses his firm belief in universal accountability

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National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal on Thursday reiterated his firm resolve in universal accountability and vowed to bring back Pakistan’s looted money from foreign accounts to national treasury. The chairman listened to the complaints and issues of the people from all parts of the country and tried to resolve them according to the law.

Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal was appointed as the chairman of NAB on 10th October 2017. He has previously served as the Chief Justice of Balochistan High Court. Soon after assuming office, Justice Iqbal in his first address announced to hold public complaint hearings at the last Thursday of every month. He had also directed the DG’s of all regional bureaus of NAB to hold public hearings on the last Thursday of every month from 2pm to 4 pm.

Another senior political expert Professor Tahir Malik told GVS that the apparent change of policy might simply be the usual clearing of backlog by NAB but he didn’t rule out the possibility that NAB might be creating a level playing field for all stakeholders in Pakistan.

The purpose of the public hearings commonly known as ‘public ketchery’ is to open NAB for the public to lodge whatever complaints they want. Public ketcheris have been a part of the local culture since before partition. They were held by the local government officers so that people won’t have to go through a long and cumbersome bureaucratic process of lodging a complaint. The revival of public complaints hearings by NAB shows a change of strategy.

Read more: Bureaucratic corruption: Ahad Cheema arrested by NAB

NAB has been very pro-active in the tenure of Justice (retd) Iqbal so far. Rigorous efforts were made to bring existing corruption references to their conclusion. NAB sent many teams to the UK to find evidence against the Sharif family in the three corruption references filed against them after the 28th July Panama Papers verdict. Supplementary references were also filed by NAB in the accountability court pertaining to the graft cases against Sharif family.

Efforts were made to bring back looted money from foreign accounts. NAB wrote numerous letters to Dubai administration seeking details of Pakistanis who own a large number of properties. They have also reopened a number of old unresolved graft cases to clear the backlog. Political experts believe that NAB wants to clear itself from allegations of incompetence and selective justice.

Another graft case was opened against former Director General of Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Ahad Cheema for irregularities in the Ashiana Housing Society. Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif has also been nominated in the case.

Graft cases were reopened against four retired army officers, one of them was former Director General (DG) of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Javed Ashraf Qazi. They were accused of selling railway land on nominal rates to a Malaysian company. The case was filed in 2012 but NAB didn’t follow up on it. The sudden reopening of the case can be attributed to the change in NAB leadership.

Another graft case was opened against former Director General of Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Ahad Cheema for irregularities in the Ashiana Housing Society. Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif has also been nominated in the case. NAB has been long accused of ignoring the corruption of political high-ups and only apprehending the culprits of minor level corruption.

Read more: NAB moves the court against interior ministry; Stand on Principle or…

This impression has been greatly dispelled in the chairmanship of Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal as even the senior most bureaucrats, political leaders and ministers have been called for investigation. Legal expert Barrister Shahzad Akbar told GVS that the change of policy can be attributed and credited to the new leadership of NAB.

Another senior political expert Professor Tahir Malik told GVS that the apparent change of policy might simply be the usual clearing of backlog by NAB but he didn’t rule out the possibility that NAB might be creating a level playing field for all stakeholders in Pakistan. It is clear that NAB can no longer be accused of being a tool for settling political scores since NAB has been investigating every corruption report without discrimination.


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