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NAB chief summoned for following the Law

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News Analysis |

The National Accountability Bureau Chairperson Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal is summoned to appear before the National Assembly’s standing committee for Law and Justice to explain the reasons for ordering an inquiry into the money laundering allegation against the ousted former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The NAB Chief was asked to appear before the committee today, in person [along with officers probing the allegations] to enlighten the committee over the investigations into money laundering allegations against Nawaz.

The Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) MNA from Sahiwal, Chaudhry Mohammad Ashraf is heading the National Assembly Standing Committee on Law and Justice, which summoned the Javed Iqbal. The NAB Chief was summoned only hours after the issue was raised by Rana Hayat Khan while speaking on a point of order in the house.

NAB Chairman Ordered Inquiry

Media reports claimed that Nawaz laundered $4.9 billion to the Indian Finance Ministry after which Indian foreign exchange reserves witnessed an increase and Pakistan suffered the consequences.

NAB faced acute media scrutiny after allegations of leniency towards the ruling PPP in Sindh surfaced. Moreover, the chairman NAB’s decision to publically call for an inquiry on a report published on February 1, 2018, has angered the government.

Amid media frenzy, NAB Chairman Javed Iqbal’s ordered to initiate an inquiry over the matter of serious concern. But, reference to an article which was more than 4-months old questioned the motives of NAB behind the late move. Many critics questioned the credibility of the institution and raised questions over its in-house procedures before announcing a probe into allegations.

Read more: After Hudaibya case, Nawaz Sharif again under NAB’s radar for money-laundering

World Bank Denounced the Report

The World Bank and the State Bank of Pakistan have categorically rejected the media reports regarding “World Bank’s Remittances and Migration Report of 2016”, which put the money laundering allegations against Sharif.

In response to the media frenzy on the issue, the World Bank Pakistan released a statement which clarified that, “the report does not include any mention of money laundering nor does it name any individuals.”

Moreover, the WB gave credibility to its explanation by referring to a statement by SBP, which stated that the “State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) rejects estimates of US$4.9 billion remittances from Pakistan to India on September 21, 2016, refuting the $4.9 billion remittances number and providing an explanation of the methodology used in the World Bank report and the official remittances numbers”.

Read more: NAB summons Shehbaz Sharif and he might skip this time

Abbasi calls for Committee

The Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi called for a special committee to be formed to investigate the allegations against the disgruntled former premier. The PM demanded that the NAB chairman should be summoned before the Parliament to question over the source of this misinformation.

He stated that these allegations are of serious nature which brought a bad name to the country and therefore, facts should be presented before the Parliament and the masses. After, the Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, the PM termed the allegations leveled against Nawaz Sharif as pre-poll rigging.

Media reports claimed that Nawaz laundered $4.9 billion to the Indian Finance Ministry after which Indian foreign exchange reserves witnessed an increase and Pakistan suffered the consequences.

PTI opposed the PM’s call for the formation of a parliamentary committee to probe the matter. PTI’s senior leader, Asad Umar said that “the NAB allegations are stemmed from a report prepared by the World Bank and we don’t know if NAB allegations are true or not.”

The PPP and MQM-P decided to respond later, after consultation with party leaders. As expected, a key ally of the PML-N chief, Mahmood Khan Achakzai also supported the idea of the constitution of the committee.

Read more: NAB responds after government’s rebuttal

NAB Clarified its Position

The anti-graft watchdog clarified that it was conducting the verification of the allegation as per law. NAB rejected the claims of the government of initiating a witch-hunt against any particular political party.

The press release stated that the Bureau initiated the inquiry based on a media report titled, “when will laundered money be returned” published in Daily Ausaf on Feb 1, 2018, written by Muhammad Tausif ul Haq Siddiqi.

According to this investigative report, the former PM Nawaz Sharif, the former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, the former Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, Ashraf Wathra and the former Deputy Governor SBP Saeed Ahmed, were allegedly involved in money laundering of the $4.9 billion from the country’s foreign reserves.

The PPP and MQM-P decided to respond later, after consultation with party leaders. As expected, a key ally of the PML-N chief, Mahmood Khan Achakzai also supported the idea of the constitution of the committee.

The newspaper article alleged that theabove-mentionedd individuals used a special agent – Saeed Ahmed, who transferred the aforementioned money to the Indian exchequer via Dubai. It was allegedly determined during a detailed audit of the SBP’s head office’s foreign currency reserves. In addition, the details were also published in the World Banks report titled “World Bank’s Remittances and Migration Report of 2016.”

In wake of these reports, NAB decided to conduct a complaint verification, on the basis of the alleged money laundering to India – on the bases of alleged media report – as the complaint verification of money laundering is under the purview of NAB.

Read more: Political parties cross swords over the appointment of NAB chief

NAB’s Media Scrutiny

NAB faced acute media scrutiny after allegations of leniency towards the ruling PPP in Sindh surfaced. Moreover, the chairman NAB’s decision to publically call for an inquiry on a report published on February 1, 2018, has angered the government.

Under the current environment of extraordinary scrutiny of the PML-N and its aides, NAB should have acted more vigilantly. NAB may have followed the rules but the timing of the decision, only months before the general elections, has sparked an outrage among the government ranks. The current probe is the continuation of the protest against the watch-dog for maligning the image of Nawaz.


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