Disband NAB, demands PTI

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Says plea bargain is a shameful act as the culprits still go scot-free

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lashed out at National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) decision of agreeing to a plea bargain with bureaucrats from Balochistan, saying that it is like giving a clean-chit to those who are facing charges of corruption worth Rs40 billion. The party, in a reaction to this deal, demanded that the Bureau should be disbanded.

The party leadership strongly reacted to NAB’s move of clearing the corrupt bureaucrats through a plea bargain deal and dubbed the move a slap in the face of transparency, honesty and justice.

On Wednesday, Executive Board of NAB accepted a plea bargain request worth more than Rs2 billion by Balochistan Finance Secretary Mushtaq Ahmad Raisani and Sohail Majeed Shah, contractor and front-man of Khalid Lango, ex-adviser to CM Balochistan for Finance, who himself puts Raisani’s corruption figure at Rs40 billion.

According to National Accountability Ordinance, if an accused is willing to return the money voluntarily, they should be given a chance. Voluntary return is applicable only at the initial stage of inquiry. If the accused is willing to pay the principal amount plus mark-up, he is within his rights to do so. NAB evaluates his offer with appropriate guarantees.

The move is being widely condemned as it is perceived as a source of encouragement and promotion of corruption rather a step to rein it in.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan slammed the move on his Twitter handle, stating that Raisani was walking scot-free after being involved in financial corruption of Rs 40 billion.

PTI Central Secretary Information Naeemul Haq has said that the acceptance of plea bargain was ‘a shameful act’.

Haq says that instead of eradicating corruption from the country, NAB is practically supervising and promoting it by giving the corrupt mafia a clean chit through plea bargain deals.

Naeemul Haq says that NAB keeps on issuing licenses of innocence to corrupt yet powerful people.

“The Bureau has no courage to hold the mighty accountable as can be judged from its silence over the corruption of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,” Naeem added.

He said that NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry being a political appointee was making all-out efforts to safeguard and protect the Prime Minister, adding that since the Bureau was not performing its duties, it should be disbanded without any delay.

In the past, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has also demanded that the NAB should be disbanded and all cases pending with it be transferred to civil courts, for its alleged role in victimising the opponents.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Chief Sirajul Haq says, “Offering plea bargain to culprits is sort of institutionalised corruption by NAB where the criminals can get free by offering a small amount.”

On his Twitter handle, he called for an amendment in National Accountability Ordinance to ensure free and fair accountability so that culprits could be punished along with recovery of looted wealth.

In the past, a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, took on a suo motu case on the plea bargain and voluntary returns. He restrained the NAB chairperson from exercising the provision of voluntary returns (plea bargain) under Section 25 (a) of NAO 1999. He sought a list of the people entering plea bargains and said those who have availed it should be proceeded against to disqualify them from holding a public office.