ISLAMABAD: If the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is friendly to President Asif Ali Zardari and his coterie, it is extraordinarily soft on the Sharifs and other opposition leaders, too.
Well-informed NAB sources confided to The News that the NAB, which is not pursuing corruption cases against the Sharifs in accountability courts, has also pended eight investigations and two inquiries regarding alleged corruption and misuse of authority mainly involving PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and in one case against his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif.
The bureau is also in possession of what a source called reasonable ‘meat’ against the Chaudhrys of Gujrat and even JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman but it not proceeding against them too. The NAB is generally criticised for covering up past and present corruption cases of the PPP government including those against President Zardari and many others. However, the sources confirmed that the NAB is also not keen to proceed against the Sharifs and even other major opposition voices.
The sources disclose that in the case of the Sharifs details of all their corruption cases, investigations and inquiries were sought from the NAB, which has already provided all the details to President Zardari, Law Minister Babar Awan and Senate chairman Farooq H Naek.
“Practically the NAB under present regime is not interested in pursuing corruption cases against any politician whether in the government or in the opposition,” they said, adding that the media needs to dig out if there is any unwritten agreement behind the government’s policy of ‘reconciliation’ and PML-N’s ‘friendly opposition’.
The setting up of an independent accountability commission is part of the Charter of Democracy, signed between the two political parties; however, despite the lapse of three years a credible independent commission could not be constituted as yet.
The government is clearly reluctant to go for it and is inclined to continue with the tamed NAB so that it could be used as per the personal whims and wishes of the rulers. On the contrary, the PML-N has been demanding the setting up of the independent accountability commission but did not go out of the way to press this demand which, if met, could have an extraordinary impact on reducing corruption in from government departments and among politicians.
Although the scope of alleged corruption by President Zardari as per the NAB’s own record is unmatched as it involves over Rs150 billion, Nawaz Sharif’s name is also reflected in many (closed) files of the NAB.
According to a bureau’s brief, two NAB cases against Nawaz Sharif and others have already been disposed of in which all the accused have been acquitted. These cases include the Musharraf plane hijacking case and the helicopter case.
The brief reveals three cases against the Sharifs are under trial but suspended in Accountability Court Rawalpindi. These cases are (i) Hudabia Paper Mills Ltd case in which the accused included Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Abbas Sharif, Hussain Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, Mrs Shamim Akhtar, Sabiha Abbas, Maryam Safdar and the late Mian Muhammad Sharif, (ii) Wilful Bank Default of Rs1.06 billion by Ittefaq Foundries involving the accused Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Abbas Sharif, the late Muhammad Sharif, Kamal Qureshi and Mukhtar Hussain; and (iii) assets case alleging that Nawaz Sharif, the late Mian Muhammad Sharif and Mrs Shamim Akhtar possess assets beyond known sources of income and construction of number of palatial houses and mansions at Raiwind estate.
The briefs say that there are six investigations against the Sharifs pending before the NAB following the NAB chairman’s order. These pending investigations include (i) case of illegal appointments in the FIA against Nawaz Sharif, (ii) misuse of authority by Nawaz Sharif as a Punjab chief minister in the construction of road from Raiwind to the Sharif family house causing loss of Rs125 million, (iii) Sharif Trust case against Nawaz Sharif/Sharif Trust involving allegation of money laundering, misappropriation of trust funds and acquisition of benami assets in the name of Sharif Trust, (iv) London properties case against Nawaz Sharif and others regarding owning of Aven Field properties in London, (v) Illegal appointments in PIA allegedly by Nawaz Sharif, and (vi) corruption in the allotment of Lahore Development Authority (LDA) plots involving Nawaz Sharif, ex-DG LDA Brig (R) Manzoor Malik, ex-Director Estate, and Shahid Rafi.
Two pending inquiries against the Sharifs in the NAB include a complaint of allotment of LDA plots and another complaint about alleged misappropriation of government property by allotting 12 plots to Mian Attaullah instead of one in Gulshan Ravi Scheme thereby causing loss of Rs20 million to the state. According to NAB sources, there are also pending investigations against the Chaudhrys of Gujrat besides some cases of alleged corruption against Fazlur Rehman.