The Lahore High Court (LHC) directed Thursday the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to wrap up its investigation against PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi over allegedly owning assets beyond means in four weeks.
Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan took up writ petitions filed by the Chaudhry brothers challenging the NAB chairman’s powers and the corruption watchdog’s inquiries against them.
NAB Lahore Director General Saleem Shahzad appeared before the court and informed it that the bureau has closed an illegal appointments inquiry against Elahi while the ongoing assets beyond means investigation against both petitioners will be completed in six months.
“How do you start an investigation against a person who pays all his taxes and declares his assets?” asked the judge.
He questioned the NAB DG about his assets, to which the latter replied that he owns assets worth Rs40 million and gets Rs0.5 million monthly salary.
The PML-Q leaders had alleged in their petitions that the NAB was being used for political engineering and old cases against them were reopened. The inquiries that have been reopened had been recommended for closure by the investigating officers and regional NAB board during 2017 and 2018, they added.
He has been a member of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab since August 2018. He served as the first and only Deputy Prime Minister of Pakistan in 2013. After a successful campaign in the 2002 general elections, he became the Chief Minister of Punjab Province and tenured until 2007. In 2008, he served as the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly of Pakistan for a short time. He was a member of the National Assembly from 2008 to May 2018.
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain served as the 16th Prime Minister of Pakistan from 30 June 2004 on a temporary basis during a transitional period to accommodate Shaukat Aziz till 28 August 2004 Hussain has been party president of the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) since 2003, when he had followed party founder Mian Muhammad Azhar because of his lack of a parliamentary seat.
Asset beyond means?
In July this year, a report was submitted by NAB to the Lahore High Court in assets beyond means case, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and his family had assets worth Rs 2.1 million in 1985 but amazingly the assets jumped to over Rs 518.4 million in 2019. He also accumulated properties worth Rs 123 million while his sons provided over Rs 1.5 billion loans to their own companies. Rs581 million transferred to the accounts of Shujaat’s sons from abroad but they failed to provide a money trail, said the report.
Chaudhry Pervez Elahi also accumulated properties worth Rs 250 million and his family received Rs 978 million from abroad through unnamed accounts.
Earlier on June 17, the Lahore High Court (LHC) had directed the NAB to submit comments on petitions filed by PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi. An LHC bench headed by Justice Sardar Ahmed Naeem had heard the petitions challenging the powers of NAB chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal.
Chaudhry brothers own assets beyond means: any explanation?
Chaudhary brothers are yet to respond to the accusations but they are likely to maintain a popular narrative that “the matter shall be decided by the courts”.
There is a popular political argument in this country that politicians be it from the opposition or treasury generally respond to these corruption allegations saying “go to the court and prove it if you have any evidence”, noted Dr. Moeed Pirzada in his Vlog. We all know, he continued, these cases are already in the courts and some people have been arrested (Salman Shehbaz declared proclaimed absconder and Hamza Shehbaz is in the custody of the NAB) but their politics is going on in an uninterrupted way.
Pakistan’s criminal justice system (police, investigation teams, laws, and courts) are not capable enough to convict any politically influential men in the country. Historically, there has been no such precedent where the criminal justice system might have convicted a person on solid grounds. “In this system, the powerful have money and other resources to hire top-class lawyers and get out of the situation on the basis of legal technicalities and loopholes,” he said.