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Saturday, February 4, 2023
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Will NAB arrest Ahsan Iqbal?

There is a perception that after Nawaz’s anti-establishment speech, the NAB is likely to go after PML-N’s leaders involved in corruption or misuse of authority. Will Ahsan Iqbal be arrested any time soon?

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The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) informed an accountability court in Islamabad on Tuesday that the reference against PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal and others was in its final phase and would soon be filed before the court. The court later adjourned proceedings in the Narowal Sports City case against the PML-N leader until October 20.

Today, the PML-N leader appeared before the court as it resumed hearing the case instituted against him. At the previous hearing, Ahsan Iqbal’s lawyer had slammed the bureau saying it had failed to file a reference despite arresting his client. He said the NAB chairman also failed to come up with an explanation of the delay in filing the reference.

The judge asked the NAB prosecutor to explain as to why the reference against Ahsan Iqbal was not filed yet, to which he replied that the reference was sent to Headquarters for approval and will be filed once it is approved. PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal is accused of using funds of the federal government and the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) for a sports city being built in Narowal — a multi-billion-rupee project.

 

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At the previous hearing, speaking to the media before heading to NAB, Iqbal said that when the PML-N came to power in 2013, he, as planning minister, had taken up several projects that were incomplete and NSC was one of them. He said that the funds spent on the project were approved by the cabinet, parliament and the National Economic Council.

He explained that the amount of money spent on NSC had exceeded its original cost because when the project was taken up again, the plan was revised and the project was expanded. There is a perception among political analysts and policy experts that the former ruling party and its leaders likely to face more cases in the backdrop of yesterday’s All Parties Conference (APC).

Notably, in his speech at the APC on Monday, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif targeted not only Prime Minister Imran Khan, but also the establishment, for engineering political processes in Pakistan. Informed sources told GVS that the accountability drive against the PPP and PML-N is likely to be fastened in the coming days.

Is NAB losing credibility?

Last year, PTI’s Faisal Vawda said that Ahsan Iqbal should be hanged for three days, as he had, through looting, brought the country to the brink of destruction. Political commentators and opinion-makers in Pakistan believe that the NAB is now expected to present a concrete case against Ahsan Iqbal if it wants to regain credibility.

 

G-M Pitafi of University of Management and Technology told GVS that “ordinary citizens are not convinced that the NAB is being used by the current government—like its predecessor— to teach lessons to its political rivals”.

He further notes that the ill-thought cases against opposition leaders, who are considered to be top critics of PM Imran’s policies, are creating a perception that the anti-corruption watchdog is not following any set of principles to apprehend corrupt politicians rather the criteria is technically bizarre.

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