PM still bent upon honouring NRO beneficiaries
ISLAMABAD: A beneficiary of the notorious National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), whose corruption reference about assets beyond his legitimate means was closed under the NRO but was revived after it was shot down by the Supreme Court, is being appointed as Chairman of the Zari Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL).
“I was called by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and confirmed that he has decided to appoint me as ZTBL Chairman,” Chaudhry Tariq Anis, who was elected member of the National Assembly as independent from Narowal and later joined the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), told The News when contacted.
He said the notification of his appointment would be issued any time. The post fell vacant after the nomination of Zaka Ashraf Chaudhry as Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board. The appointment may turn out to be another case of accommodating NRO beneficiaries including Adnan Khawaja, Ahmed Riaz Sheikh, Sajjad Haider, Sadiq Ali Khan and some others by the government. Tariq Anis said that a fake corruption reference involving just Rs1.5 million was instituted against him in 2002 at the instance of his district political rival, Daniyal Aziz, who was close to Pervez Musharraf at the time. The reference was filed without the sanction of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman.
However, Daniyal Aziz told this correspondent that he had nothing to do with the reference as the corruption probe was started against Tariq Anis in 1997. Documents, including judicial orders available with The News, show that Tariq Anis’s claim was rejected by courts when NAB lawyers told them that the reference was filed with their chief’s approval.
Tariq Anis, who also served as Minister of State for Housing in the present government, said the case related to a plot that he was allotted by then Punjab Chief Minister (Nawaz Sharif) in 1988. He said he has reasonable income as lawyer as he had been member of the Punjab Assembly twice and President of the District Bar Association as well as member of the Punjab Bar Council.
However, documents reveal that the inquiry against Tariq Anis pertained to the year 1997 when a complaint was made to the then Ehtesab Commissioner for allegation of corruption and corrupt practices and the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner directed the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Punjab to carry out a probe in the matter. On May 29, 2002, the NAB chairman filed the reference before the special judge, Accountability Court (AC) No. 1 Lahore.
Tariq Anis sought quashment of the reference but the AC dismissed his plea on July 9, 2003. He challenged this order before the Lahore High Court (LHC), which stayed the proceedings at the AC on October 30, 2003. Then, the case lingered for the next ten years with 100 plus adjournments.
The final disposal of his plea was still pending in the LHC when the NRO 2007 was promulgated. However, Tariq Anis moved an application to the AC to take benefit of the NRO, which was accepted and the proceedings against him in the AC were terminated under the amnesty law on April 26, 2008.
At the same time, on May 20, 2008 he withdrew his plea from the LHC after the end of his trial at the AC in which the AC proceedings court had been stayed.
As the NRO was nullified on December 16, 2009, Tariq Anis’s case was also revived and he was summoned to face trial at the AC in the same reference. However, after its revival, he again moved the LHC and sought a stay against proceedings at the Accountability Court that was granted on June 10, 2010. The matter stays it now.
Daniyal Aziz said he has moved an application to the LHC stating that the matter was lingering since 2002 and had not been decided by the AC because of the stay orders issued by the high court.
He prayed that the case should be fixed for hearing and decided on merit as early as possible in the interest of justice, equity and fair play. Daniyal Aziz claimed that neither the NAB authorities were interested to argue the matter for a decision on merits nor Tariq Anis is prepared to come forward to plead. “The purpose of justice will not be served if strong and influential persons sitting in the power corridors were let off and the poor are punished in minor and petty offices, hence, indulgence of the honourable court is required to set the law in motion because everyone should be dealt in accordance with law without fear of favour,” he argued.
However, Tariq Anis said that he was the only one charged under the NAB law who was granted bail before arrest only because of the reference having no basis or ground. In the 2008 elections, he defeated Daniyal Aziz, who contested on the PML-Q ticket, from NA 116 Narowal by bagging 45,097 votes against his rival’s 37,138 votes. PML-N’s Dr Hafiz Shabbir Ahmed bagged 22,369 votes. Daniyal Aziz later challenged Tariq Anis’s election decision which is still pending.