News Analysis |
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has approved inquiries against the former Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, chief ministers Shahbaz Sharif and Qaim Ali Shah, and some others in separate cases.
The Chairman of the NAB, retired Justice Javed Iqbal, who was heading an executive board meeting of the bureau approved an inquiry against Nawaz and Abbasi for allegedly awarding a 15-year contract for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal against the rules when Abbasi was the petroleum minister in Nawaz’s cabinet.
Pakistan’s economy is in a critical phase and corruption and black-money are on their rise.
Interestingly, in December 2016, the NAB had ‘wrapped up’ an inquiry which was conducted for almost 17 months against Abbasi for his alleged role in awarding a Rs220 billion contract for the import and distribution of LNG in 2013.
It is pertinent to mention here that although it was proved at that time that the contract was awarded in a ‘non-transparent manner’ yet the inquiry was stopped. Later on, Mr Abbasi got an opportunity and became the Prime Minister after Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification in Panama Papers case. During his stay as PM, there has been no action against him by the NAB.
During his premiership, his political opponents had, however, been making claims of Abbasi’s involvement in the said corruption case.
The justification at the time of closing of the inquiry offered by the NAB was interesting. It stated that “after exhaustive discussion, it has been decided that it is an ongoing project and any intervention by NAB at this juncture will jeopardize the efforts of provision of LNG from the project of public/national importance. It is, therefore, decided [to close the] inquiry [at] our end.”
But in the latest development, the anti-watchdog authority has decided to question the former prime ministers Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and his predecessor, Nawaz Sharif “over alleged misuse of authority in the multi-million dollars liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal project”.
Probe against the former CM of Sindh:
The accountability bureau has also approved a probe against the former Sindh chief minister, Qaim Ali Shah, former secretary, officers of the Sindh Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Department and others over allegations of misuse of authority.
The aforementioned politicians and civil servants are ‘accused of malpractice by violating the code of conduct to issue contracts during Sindh Cultural Festival in 2014’, which allegedly caused losses of Rs127 million to the national exchequer.
Mr Abbasi got an opportunity and became the Prime Minister after Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification in Panama Papers case.
An investigation against the former CM of Punjab:
Moreover, the investigation was also approved against the former Punjab chief minister and the head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Shahbaz Sharif, concerned secretaries, a former MPA from Chiniot and the management of Ramzan Sugar Mills Chiniot over alleged misuse of authority.
The accountability bureau also announced to launch a probe against the former chairman of Karachi Port Trust, Vice Admiral (retd) Ahmad Hayat, former Balochistan ministers Sheikh Jaffar Khan and Obaidullah Jan Babat and other officials over similar allegations.
These individuals have been involved in mega corruption cases and this is the time to probe into what they have done, said the NAB. The institution is working these days to deal with all sort of corruption cases across the country to stop malpractices and to recover what has been looted.
Analysts argue that if the NAB continues to work with the same pace, it is likely that corruption will come to a minimum level in Pakistan. Pakistan’s economy is in a critical phase and corruption and black-money are on their rise. If the country is destined to become economically independent and politically stable there needs to be an end to malpractices across the country.