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May 17, 2018

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Received notice late, can’t come: NAB chief

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal on Wednesday communicated to the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Law and Justice that he received the notice for the appearance in the morning at a time when he had meetings planned for the day, and requested the committee to set an appropriate time for his appearance.

The committee, after receiving the communication, directed the NAB chief to appear before it on May 22. The NAB chief was summoned by the committee on a point of order raised by Rana Muhammad Hayat Khan, referred to the committee on May 15 pertaining to a press release dated 8th and 9th May, 2018 regarding the allegation levelled by the NAB on money laundering of $4.9 billion by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The NAB chief was directed to give a briefing on the probe into the allegations of money laundering against the former prime minister.

PTI, JI and MQM members opposed the summoning of the NAB chairman for the briefing, while the PPP members Syed Naveed Qamar and Shagufta Jumani resigned from the committee terming the summoning of the NAB chief as interference in the working of the corruption watchdog.

Minister of State for Interior Talal Chaudhry did not agree with the opposition members of the committee and said the summoning the head of any institution did not mean disrespect to him.

Dr Arif Alvi and Ali Muhammad Khan of the PTI attended the meeting and questioned the timing of summoning of the NAB chairman when the Bureau was already probing cases against Nawaz Sharif, and remarked that the NAB chief should not be disrespected like this. Arif Alvi remarked the summoning of the NAB chief for a specific purpose tantamount to bringing the NAB under political pressure. He suggested that before summoning, a questionnaire should also be sent to the NAB chairman.

Talal Chaudhry questioned if the timing of issuing the press release was right. He said those who know about economy will better know what message has been given to the world through this press release. “We are trying to know from the institutions that for how long these tweets and press releases will continue,” he said.

Aisha Syed of the JI also opposed the summoning of the NAB chairman for a specific purpose.

Ali Muhammad Khan said if the NAB chief has misused authority or violated law, then the Supreme Judicial Council was the appropriate forum for this purpose, not the committee. He said if the PML-N thinks that the NAB has crossed its jurisdiction, then they must approach the High Court under Article 199 and Supreme Court under Article 184 of the Constitution.

“If the NAB chairman can also be summoned as I and people of the country were hurt due to his interview,” he said. Minister of State for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal said summoning of anyone by the committee doesn’t mean exerting pressure. He said there is no question of timing as the decisions were taken even in the war time.

Mian Abdul Manan of the PML-N said the NAB chairman was summoned in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting and he gave a briefing to the committee. “The PAC gave him respect as we have neither the words nor language which was used by some leaders,” he said.

The committee also considered “The Legal Practitioners and Bar Council (Amendment) Bill, 2018” and recommended that the bill may be passed by the assembly. The committee considered the Constitution (13th Amendment) Bill, 2017 (Government Bill) and decided that the bill may be deferred till its next meeting for further deliberations.

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