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November 25, 2018

NAB runs amok to fix Shahbaz

Top Story

November 25, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is frustratingly trying to find something concrete about Shahbaz Sharif’s corruption, commission or kickbacks, and in this endeavor it has recently summoned at least half of the federal secretaries, including some reputed leading members of Imran Khan’s bureaucratic team, but failed to find anything as yet.

Later no less than DG NAB Lahore Shahzad Saleem told the TV channels that a case of assets beyond means was also being pursued against Sharif. Shahzad Saleem also talked about the construction of a drainage channel with millions of tax-payers money to facilitate Sharif’s sugar mill in Chiniot on the orders of Shahbaz Sharif.

In the TV interviews, the DG NAB Lahore though claimed to have found enough material against Shahbaz, the sources in the bureau confided to The News that a number of serving federal secretaries were quizzed for hours by different teams of NAB Lahore during the recent weeks in an effort to find something against Shahbaz Sharif. These sources said Imran Khan’s choice for the high profile post of Chairman FBR Jahenzeb Khan —again a highly reputed officer — was summoned many times about Punjab energy projects, which according to the PML-N’s claims are the global success story.

Recently, retired secretary aviation Irfan Ellahi, who served in Punjab as Chairman Planning and Development, was also summoned many times without any specific allegation. Some other officers, who have worked with Shahbaz Sharif in the past, were summoned by the NAB recently. Most of the officers are not sharing details with their friends and acquaintances for fear of disrespect to family and personal repute.

The NAB spokesman, when contacted, said they are inquiring into the cases of 56 companies and for the same reason bureaucrats are being summoned to give them a chance to explain their position. The spokesman denied that it was being done to target Shahbaz Sharif. He added, “As per law, NAB provides ample and fair opportunity to officers to have their point of view about the relevant project to ensure transparency and merit. NAB does not believe in any victimisation and the chairman NAB has categorically directed all the regional bureaus of NAB to respect every visitor who comes to NAB offices. The media is requested to kindly avoid speculations in this regard.”

The NAB working, the source said, has serious problems and thus requires judicial scrutiny and supervision to save others from harassment and injustices in the name of accountability. The source said no less than the Supreme Court has repeatedly expressed its displeasure over the NAB’s working and even warned it against “roving inquires “. The SC judges in their observations have been saying that the courts will not allow harassment but still there is no institutional check on the NAB which continues to invite criticism from different quarters.

He referred to a statement of former vice chancellor Punjab University Mujahid Kamran, who narrated as to how the accused were harassed, mistreated, tortured and humiliated in the Bureau’s custody. The Constitution guarantees “human dignity” but the NAB seems to be supra-constitution, the source said, adding that now the bureau has decided to get Mujahid Kamran’s bail cancelled because he had spoken to the media about the state of affairs in NAB Lahore.

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