PM not NAB-proof, says chief

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–NAB chairman responds to Info Minister Fawad’s remarks, says slogan of ‘accountability for all’ endorsed by PM Imran Khan himself

–Justice (r) Javed Iqbal believes all politicians, whether from opposition or treasury, stand equal before NAB

LAHORE: Just days after Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry commented that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was insulting Prime Minister Imran Khan by investigating him in the helicopter misuse case, the accountability watchdog’s chairman responded that even the country’s premier is not immune from any investigation.

“I think these are excesses by NAB and the anti-graft body is insulting the PM and the system,” the info minister had said. “What is this case about? The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had sent a helicopter to Imran Khan in which he travelled to inaugurate projects… the world is laughing at us after NAB made a case out of it.”

In his address at the NAB Lahore office on Thursday, Justice (r) Javed Iqbal responded that if Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif could face an inquiry then leader of the house could also be held accountable.

The NAB chief said that all politicians, whether they belonged to the opposition or treasury benches, stand equal before the accountability bureau.

“The slogan ‘accountability for all’ has been raised by Prime Minister Imran Khan himself,” he mentioned.

NAB was not under the influence of the government, Justice (r) Iqbal said, adding that the bureau would not succumb to pressure from anyone.

The prime minister is accused of abusing his powers and illegally using helicopters of the KP government, which allegedly caused losses to the national kitty.

In January 2018, it was reported that the former KP government had spent millions on PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s use of the provincial government’s helicopters. A go-ahead for the probe was given in February 2018 by NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal, who directed the bureau to launch a probe against the PTI chief and then-KP chief minister Pervez Khattak over the unofficial use of two government helicopters for a total of 74 hours, causing a loss of Rs2.1 million to the national exchequer. Imran and Khattak have already appeared before the bureau in the past regarding the case.

Meanwhile, KP Governor Shah Farman had argued PM Imran used the government’s helicopter in his capacity as a ‘celebrity’, and not as a party chairman.

During an interview to a private television channel, the governor argued that allegations levelled against Imran Khan for misusing the provincial government’s helicopter during his party’s tenure in KP during 2013-18 were baseless because he was not using the helicopter as a party chairman, but as a celebrity.

It is pertinent to mention that the opposition parties including the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have termed the ongoing accountability drive biased and externally motivated.

‘NO NRO’:

Javed (r) Iqbal also vowed to strive and attain logical conclusion in all mega corruption cases. During his visit to the Lahore bureau, NAB DG Shahzad Saleem briefed him regarding cases pertaining to mega corruption scandals.

The NAB chief reiterated his stance to return the looted wealth worth Rs590 million to the victims of Ferozpur Housing Society.

“NAB has not given any National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) to anybody, and was not even part of it,” he said while urging the general public to coordinate with the bureau.

He further said that the NAB has been performing based on its ideology of “work, work and work according to the Constitution of Pakistan.”

“The NAB is the only institution which has deposited the plundered money worth Rs297 billion into the national exchequer,” he went on to say.

Appreciating the performance of NAB’s Lahore division, he said, “NAB Lahore’s performance has played a critical role in the collective progress” of the bureau.

A few days earlier, the NAB chief had said that the policy of “accountability for all” has started yielding its results and the institution was absolutely committed to root out corruption with iron hands.

“Corruption was mother of all evils and NAB officers were doubling their efforts in nabbing corrupt elements,” he said and added that NAB recovered hard earned looted money of the innocent citizen of the country from corrupt people.

“NAB is the only organisation in the world which has prescribed time frame for disposal of cases in ten months for the investigation of white-collar crimes,” he added.

He said that NAB has devised Monitoring & Evaluation System in order to monitor the performance of NAB headquarter and all regional bureaus in qualitative and quantitative terms which, according to him, have proved successful.