NAB a tool to force people to change political loyalties: Abbasi

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) came under intense fire on Sunday with former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Shahid Khaqan Abbasi accusing it of being employed by powers that be to promote the culture of turncoats and opportunism.

Abbasi who remained Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources between 2013 and 2017 before assuming the office of the prime minister following the judicial ouster of PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif in a money laundering case is facing a NAB reference pertaining to the award of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal project to a company purportedly of his liking.

In 2018, the dirty money watchdog opened an inquiry against him, Sharif and others “for granting a 15-year contract of LNG terminal to a company of their liking in violation of rules and by misuse of their powers, which caused (the) national exchequer a loss of billions of rupees”.

Addressing a gathering comprised mostly of members of the legal fraternity during the two-day Asma Jahangir Conference in Lahore which concluded Sunday, Abbasi said: “I am all for accountability — if you want accountability [but] NAB is not accountability.”

“NAB is whatever it is […] it’s political engineering, it is manipulating politics, it is punishing people without convicting them,” a visibly fumed Abbasi said.

He claimed the agency is about “victimisation […] not that of an individual, or a group of individuals, or even a political party. But the entity paying the price (of its activities) today are the people of Pakistan.”

Abbasi recounted that in one of the cases filed against him, the charge sheet was 35 pages long but the NAB reference was 19 pages long. “You can write anything in any charge sheet […] what are we doing, where are we going,” he lamented.

Abbasi said the question of accountability or victimisation is something that is discussed a lot “but the reality of the situation remains unclear”. “It remains unclear because we deliberately cloud the facts.”

The laws, he claimed, are misused and added: “A few who stand up against the practice suffer, and (resultantly) the whole country suffers.”

The former prime minister observed the laws governing the financial sector of the land required him to keep records of the past seven years. However, he was being accused of “something that happened 35 years ago”, he said.

“If you accuse me of something, then you also need to give the record for [the last] 35 years. I definitely cannot. I am all for accountability … [but] NAB is not accountability,” he said, accusing the anti-graft watchdog of being a tool to carry out political engineering.

“If you want to hold the politicians accountable, it is very simple. The whole world does it. But you don’t need special laws for the purpose, it’s about tax regimes.”

Abbasi said amending the laws regulating the accountability and electoral apparatuses could only be achieved through consensus.

But, he lamented, whenever the opposition presented amendments to the laws in the National Assembly, they were disregarded and branded by the government as an attempt to seek an NRO-like concession.

More details to follow 

The post NAB a tool to force people to change political loyalties: Abbasi appeared first on Pakistan Today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: