ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman, Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal, on Sunday said he has requested the government not to appoint those officers on top posts who were under the radar of the Bureau.
The NAB chief said the Bureau makes arrest on the basis of concrete evidence. He said the NAB can go together with economy but not with corruption.
“The NAB has no role in the deteriorating economic situation and the current economic crisis is not the government's crisis but a national crisis in which everyone has a right to express his opinion,” he said while addressing a press conference here.
Justice Javed Iqbal said the institution will take steps that are in the interest of the country and that the Bureau has never been under any influence.
“NAB is not responsible for the economic crisis. For the past few days, it is being said that NAB has been behind the economic crisis in the country," he said, and asked what had NAB to do with dollar’s increasing value or the government’s agreement with the IMF. However, he noted that the rupee devaluation increased the country’s debt from $90 billion to $100 billion and questioned that who will pay back this loan.
The NAB chairman continued: “We have never interfered in the telegraph transfer of the business community. If this question is being put to a public officeholder how they are sending and bringing in millions of rupees, then it is the accountability watchdog’s responsibility, keeping in mind the law to inquire about it.”
Justice Javed Iqbal said those keeping a public post are being questioned about money laundering and will continue to be questioned about it. “However, I will never call up a business to NAB. If someone has any grievances, they should inform me," he said.
Justice Javed Iqbal said the governments keep changing, but the country is forever. "Whatever is in the interest of the country will be done. NAB is connected to the state, not the government. Those days are long gone when there was no interrogation. There is no question of taking dictation from the government," he added.
The NAB chief said those who are apprehended, the investigation against them is sabotaged by calling meetings and committees. He said democracy is never in danger because of accountability. He said democracy comes under damage because of their own actions.
Speaking about the Grey List, the NAB chairman said, money laundering is one of the reasons why Pakistan is on the FATF’s Grey List. He said the NAB will help the country come out of the Grey List. “When Pakistan’s issue is on the international level, the NAB will not care about these few people. The blame game is one thing, but the interest of the country is another thing,” he said.
“NAB will always give importance to the interests of the country. We have to get Pakistan out of the Grey List and to make Pakistan’s image better on an international level,” he asserted.
“If the accountability watchdog was on such good terms with the government, why would we have so many difficulties in getting the budget approved? On the one hand, we have those who are on NAB’s radar whose lawyers take millions in fees and then there are our prosecutors who just take Rs100,000 or so,” he added.
He said he has directed the NAB not to summon businessmen and instead send questionnaires to them and if on the basis of replies the NAB feels that these were not satisfactory, only then next step should be taken.
“I assure the business community that the NAB will protect them and they should continue their business activities without any fear,” he said.
The NAB chief strongly denied the Bureau’s role in any political engineering and challenged that any MNA, MPA or senator will never make any claim that the NAB asked them to take a direction of west instead of east and if it was proved, then he will quit his office. He said he was neither an economist nor a politician as he started his life from the judiciary and his entire career is like an open book.
The NAB chairman said so far the business community has no complaints with the NAB and he visited the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) and they have no complaints.
“I formed the business complaint desk at the NAB so that the business community could lodge its complaints and their resolution be ensured within 24 hours to 48 hours,” he said.
Justice Javed Iqbal said the NAB has received appreciation letters of renowned businessman Mian Muhammad Mansha and Arif Habib who have praised the role of the Bureau.
The NAB chairman said if the Bureau did not have the evidence, then why the accused run out of the country. He said some people after getting temporary relief from the courts wear flower garlands. He said questioning from public officeholders will continue where deemed necessary.
“The NAB has asked for placing their names on the Exit Control List and when their names were not on the ECL, then they will prefer to leave the country while when some others who were arrested would call the sessions of the assemblies and committees meetings and did not come out of the assembly till night and not become the part of the investigation when questioned,” he said.
Justice Javed Iqbal said a Gulf country has made contact with him with a message that it was ready to make investment in Pakistan in power and other sectors with a condition if these projects were monitored by the NAB. “I told the personality of the Gulf country that it was not the NAB’s task,” he said.
He said when the work which should be done with Rs5,000 costs a million, then the NAB will intervene. He said the NAB will not remain silent if corruption of billions is done from the bank account of a falooda or rabri seller. He said he doesn’t care about any intimidation, threat or influence.
“Should we play role of silent spectator if Rs500,000 are being charged for a work that costs Rs5,000. We have done nothing wrong by asking unscrupulous elements about their corruption,” he said.
The NAB chief said there were 1,250 references in the accountability courts, which had strength of only 25 judges. He said the NAB recently distributed the looted money of Rs2.5 billion among the small investors who invested their money in small plots.
While removing the concerns and reservations of the bureaucracy, the NAB chief said it was alleged that bureaucracy was not working due to fear of the NAB. “I myself went to the federal secretaries and federal bureaucracy but they did not make complaint and it was decided that the no officer above grade 17 will be summoned in the NAB and instead questionnaire would be sent,” he said.
Justice Javed Iqbal said it was also decided that the NAB will not summon any woman in the NAB.
“But it should also be pondered why people involve women of their houses in money laundering,” he said, adding that no cases be made against women, but if women were involved in any malpractice then the NAB’s women investigation officer will go to house to interrogate accused women.
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