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May 9, 2018

Why NAB chief issued statement without verification

Top Story

May 9, 2018

ISLAMABAD: In an unusual hurry and questionable manner the NAB chairman Tuesday afternoon decided to make public his “direction” for verification of media report of alleged money laundering of $4.9billion to India by Nawaz Sharif. As expected it made headlines shaming the former prime minister.

However, later in the same evening the report turned out to be “fake”, raising a serious question about what made the NAB Chairman Justice (R) Javed Iqbal to issue a press release, in an indecent haste, on a matter which was unverified but involves the name and repute of a top political leader of the country - Nawaz Sharif.

The NAB press release while quoting media report and citing a World Bank document ensured that Nawaz Sharif is named along with the allegation of “money laundering” worth $4.9 billion. The press release alleged that the money was transferred to India.

Within hours of the NAB’s move, initially it was the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) that rejected the $4.9 billion money-laundering story but later the World Bank formally trashed it completely. The World Bank said, “In the past day, there have been media reports citing the World Bank’s Remittances and Migration Report of 2016. These media reports were incorrect. The World Bank’s Remittances and Migration Report is an effort by the World Bank to estimate migration and remittances numbers across the world. The report does not include any mention of money laundering nor does it name any individuals.”

NAB sources told The News that it’s rare that a press release is issued in regard to an in-house order for the verification of a complaint. “This has been done a day before the executive committee of the NAB meets in Islamabad to discuss such matters,” a source said.

The source added that some most relevant officers in the Bureau did not know about this development as the direction to make the matter public before even its verification, came from the chairman’s office.

Some key NAB headquarters officials came to know about this issue through the media, which was overwhelmed to get this huge “scandal” against Nawaz Sharif. The day the NAB issued this highly contentious press release, The News carried a detailed report on how the NAB has been involved in pre-maturely naming and shaming others in the name of accountability.

The Tuesday development from NAB endorsed The News story - “Unaccountable NAB freely uses its license to kill”- which narrated how in the absence of any institutional check and while living up to its reputation of having been always used for political victimisation, NAB continues to be used as a tool to spare one and fix another.

The story said that as and when it suits the Bureau, it prematurely gets involved in naming and shaming its target -- mostly politicians -- but later it resets its attention to someone else without bothering to conclude its earlier case(s).

“It initiates inquiries and investigations, shelves them when it fulfills the agenda of those controlling it and later re-opens them when again required for someone else’s political gains. Eversince its creation, this has been happening but not even single chairman of Bureau has been held accountable for keeping different inquiries and investigations alive for many years and even in cases well over a decade, and using them for political reasons,” read the story, proved by the NAB itself on Tuesday.

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