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Witch-hunt or a blunder?

The media speculation and NAB’s hastily taken decision have gone on to favore Nawaz as he publically condemned NAB for witch-hunting.

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Waqas Shabbir |

After the Supreme Court beleaguered Nawaz, he is at loggerheads with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Despite Chairman NAB’s assurance that the press release against Nawaz was issued only to verify the media reports, Nawaz is not ready to listen.

In his mind, defamation and pre-poll rigging are the popular reasons behind endorsing the issue publically. For the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), in the current political environment is perfect to gain credence and sympathy against NAB’s ill-timed, complacent and self-damaging decision.

After making the first mistake, NAB’s decision to quote a four-months-old and apparently a sub-standard news story, as a basis to initiate a preliminary inquiry against Nawaz was nothing but a self-harming exercise.

Its blunder provided a much-needed indirect benefit to Nawaz. It damaged NAB’s credibility and augmented Nawaz‘s narrative, which he is so desperately trying to sell. Now, he will go to people with added ammunition.

In response to the media frenzy on the issue, 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.” NAB should have heeded the warning signs, which could favor Nawaz politically to endorse his narrative.

No one can deny that Nawaz was waiting for a loose ball from NAB to hit a six. The incumbent government is using it as an opportunity to build a case against NAB’s so-called activism and to showcase PML-N as a victim of a conspiracy spearheaded by Javed Iqbal, devised in GHQ. In a press release, he asked NAB to verify the media statements quoting the World Bank report along with the February 01 column published in Daily Ausaf.

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Nawaz was already in NAB’s clutches. There was no need to go an extra-mile to embarrass him. In regard to this, NAB chairman has the power to order an inquiry over allegations. He didn’t accuse Nawaz of the laundering of $4.9 billion – to the Indian exchequer – to purposely dwindle Pakistan’s reserves..

NAB issued a clarification statement to cement its principal stand that it never violated any rule and ordered inquiry within the rules. Fair enough, NAB has the law on its side but was it not important to conduct a preliminary inquiry? NAB would say, this is exactly what the Bureau did but why publically, especially on a matter which was settled in 2016?

PTI’s Asad Umar was right to point out that the Finance Ministry should have taken the lead and clarified the matter using the SBP’s statement on the subject. However, Mifta Ismail failed to take center stage to settle the rumors.

After making the first mistake, NAB’s decision to quote a four-months-old and apparently a sub-standard news story, as a basis to initiate a preliminary inquiry against Nawaz was nothing but a self-harming exercise.

The media speculation and NAB’s hastily taken decision went on to favor Nawaz as he publically condemned NAB for witch-hunting. The PM Abbasi, CM Shehbaz and now, Nawaz himself loathe NAB. In terms of this, Abbasi angrily called to summon Iqbal in the Parliament while Nawaz went a step further to demand his resignation or proof of allegations within 24-hours.

However, Nawaz’s apparent failure to satisfy the accountability court along with Khawaja Harris’s delaying tactics and Shehbaz’s reluctance to allow NAB to investigate the 56-companies in Punjab and his efforts to put hindrance in NAB’s work, are an apparent testimony to the murky affairs of the ‘house of sSharif’.

Since the accountability court started, Nawaz has been bashing NAB ordinance and has termed it a ‘black law’ constituted by a dictator, solely targeting politicians. Nawaz wants to abolish this law. Therefore, PM Abbasi proposed highly controversial amendments after Nawaz’s regret for not taking measures in this, regarding during heydays.

Read more: Nawaz’s anti-judiciary rhetoric and Imran’s defiant rebuttal

With this in mind, Nawaz is still playing politics. He has gotten the leverage he was so eagerly looking for. Now, he can tell the public that NAB is on a mission to defame him, on behest of the aliens [Khalai-makhlooq]. The undeterred NAB chairman vowed to continue the investigation of corruption cases in the light of NAB ordinance 1999.

The current war of words between the kingpin of the incumbent government and the NAB chairman will remain the hot topic over the election period. Nawaz’s decision to call the Central Executive Meeting today [Friday] will apparently fasten its efforts to malign NAB.

The speed of NAB’s actions against the member of the “House of Sharif” is breathtaking. One member after the other is called at the NAB’s premises in Lahore and Islamabad, for the preliminary questionnaire to probe the individual’s corruption and assets beyond means cases.

PTI’s Asad Umar was right to point out that the Finance Ministry should have taken the lead and clarified the matter using the SBP’s statement on the subject. However, Mifta Ismail failed to take center stage to settle the rumors.

After Nawaz, Maryam, Hassan and Hussein – Imran Abbas, Shehbaz, and Hamza Shehbaz are under the scanner for alleged embezzlement and wrongdoings. Some of the senior leaders including Khawaja Saad Rafique and the PML-N favored bureaucrats are under investigation over alleged corruption.

The double ousting of Nawaz as the PM and the party head along with the ongoing corruption cases gave rise to Nawaz’s confrontational politics against the institution as well as his attempt to build a narrative against the military establishment. This has had serious effects on the dynamics of domestic politics.

The defectors eluding the crises-prone Nawaz have become a precious commodity for the PTI’s government in waiting. The populist stance of the PTI, to defeat the corruption and free Pakistan of its ills, has apparently gained many backers.

Read more: The saga of Nawaz’s ‘comings and goings’ continue

Nevertheless, Nawaz’s popularity among the rural masses of Punjab cannot be ignored. NAB has been complacent. Its blunder provided a much-needed indirect benefit to Nawaz. It damaged NAB’s credibility and augmented Nawaz‘s narrative, which he is so desperately trying to sell. Now, he will go to people with added ammunition.

For NAB to be unaware of these facts and releasing a press statement without any in-house investigations is a gross-negligence. It is a blow to the institution; the same institution that is trying to revive its work and image under a determined new chairman, Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal – after a period of prolonged slumber under Qamar Zaman. Javed Iqbal has unleashed a new life into this soul-less institution but this mismanagement will give credence to the Nawaz’s narrative of a witch-hunt.

Waqas Shabbir is a Derby Business School graduate in Finance, currently working as a freelance writer. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space. 


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