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November 10, 2018

Reference against Shahbaz by month-end, NAB DG


November 10, 2018

KARACHI: The director general (DG) of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lahore Thursday said that a corruption reference would be filed against opposition leader in National Assembly, Shahbaz Sharif, by the end of this month (November).

DG NAB Lahore Shahzad Saleem said this during his appearance on Geo News show, Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath. "We have found such evidence on the basis of which we are filing a reference against Shahbaz Sharif," he said. Shahbaz, who is also the president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), was arrested by NAB in Ashiana-e-Iqbal housing scheme case on Oct 6. The opposition leader was taken into custody as he appeared before the anti-graft body to record statement in Punjab Saaf Pani Company case. Speaking of a case against Shahbaz’s son-in-law Ali Imran, the DG NAB accused him of depositing official cheques in his personal account. The case against Imran pertains to withdrawal of official funds and where those funds were spent, he added.

Saleem lamented that whoever is summoned by NAB flees the country. "Ali Imran has left the country some 2, 3 months ago," he said, adding that Imran would be answering to the anti-graft body's questions upon his return to country. The DG NAB further stated that suspects say one thing while being under custody, but change their statements once they get out of custody.

He said investigation of Ashiana-e-Iqbal housing scheme case, in which Shahbaz was arrested last month, has been completed and it will be in the court by the end of this month. "Every day a fire erupts at public buildings, this is how record is destroyed," Saleem added.

He also lamented that Salman Shahbaz was summoned by NAB, but he went abroad instead of appearing before the anti-corruption watchdog. The DG NAB further said that a case registered against Punjab minister Aleem Khan was also being investigated. Some documents are required from abroad in the case relating to Aleem and a verdict would be announced in it once those documents were received, he said.

Saleem further said that if needed in any case, then Chaudhry brothers and Moonis Elahi would be taken into custody. When asked about the arrest of Punjab University teachers and his apology in the court, the NAB DG said: “Neither I wept in the court nor I begged the court’s pardon in the way you are portraying. I told the court neither it (handcuffing of teachers) was my fault nor my department’s. However, showing nobility, I told the court that I say sorry to them.

“And by the way, you tell me, whether putting the handcuffs on some accused under the law is a crime,” asked the NAB Lahore DG. When the anchorperson told the official that if he believed so, he shouldn’t have sought pardon and instead must have told the chief justice of Pakistan that he committed no mistake, Saleem said: “He’s a person of high stature. Allah has given him respect. When he questioned me about the incident, I didn’t find it appropriate to argue with him.”

When Shahzeb mentioned the allegations of DG NAB’s fake Masters’ degree, Major (retd) Saleem Shahzad strongly argued that his degree was valid. “(Who can object) if my degree is recognised by the HEC?” he asked.

Shahzeb mentioned a story by The News correspondent Waseem Abbasi about his alleged fake degree. To which the DG said he met Waseem Abbasi twice and the reporter had apologised to him over his story. However, when the reporter was taken on line, he categorically rejected the claim that he ever apologised to the NAB official over his story. Waseem Abbasi said “I stand by his story”, and he had never apologised to DG NAB, as his story was factually correct. Waseem said the HEC had retracted the verification of DG NAB’s degree from Al-Khair University in a statement before the Peshawar High Court. Waseem said he has documents to prove that the degree was fake.

Major Shahzad Saleem was serving in NAB Rawalpindi when he claims to have obtained the said degree from a university, which is not recognised by the HEC. The DG NAB Lahore also denied a report about an article alleging transfer of $4.9 billion to India by PML-N supremo Mian Nawaz Sharif through money-laundering, which increased the Indian foreign reserves and lessened Pakistan’s. He said NAB chairman had only asked for verifying the facts, and later on rubbished the article claims.

Shahzad Saleem said the NAB chairman didn’t believe in those allegations at all, and the press release issued by the Bureau in this regard was only for initial verification purposes. However, he failed to give a satisfactory answer when asked by the programme host as to why a press release was not issued again when the allegation was proven wrong.

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