NAB a tool to exonerate ‘friends’ or hunt ‘foes’? | Pakistan Today

NAB a tool to exonerate ‘friends’ or hunt ‘foes’?

ISLAMABAD: Contrary to its claim of abolishing the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the government, under a new strategy, has decided to sharpen its teeth to either victimise some ‘foes” and exonerate some “friends” from corruption charges, Pakistan Today has learnt reliably.
Well-placed sources said on Thursday that the idea, a brainchild of a leading minister, has been given a nod by the President’s House and the appointment of the new chairman of the NAB was part of this well-thought out plan.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had vowed to abolish the NAB in his first speech in the National Assembly around the two-and-a-half years ago, but his government has shown little urgency in implementing his announcement. Rather, NAB is thriving under its new chairman who has ordered action in another seven cases.
“Interestingly, the new NAB chief on Wednesday ordered inquiry into some most important case pending since many years. These cases include inquiry against Kamran Lashari, former CDA chairman, for allotting a plot to Siza Foods at nominal rates. Another important inquiry was ordered against Tahir Basharat Cheema, MD PEPCO, after a report by the Transparency International (TI).
Everyone knows Lashari is a favorite of President Asif Ali Zardari, while Tahir Basharat Cheema is very close to the prime minister. Now you can imagine how transparent these inquiries will be,” added the source. The source said that Cheema was a key player in the launch and approval of rental power projects (RPPs), which had all the blessings of the Presidency, while Lashari was instrumental in getting approvals for other important projects.
“If Cheema becomes an approver in RPPs scam, one does not need rocket science to assume how the PPP leaders will be able to save their skins. So one can assume what sort of action can be taken against Cheema. Same is the case with the inquiry against Lashari. When the government is reluctant to take action against Lashari on the direction of the Supreme Court, how you can assume a fair inquiry by NAB,” the source added.
Politicians say the government looks determined to use the NAB as a tool to settle personal scores and the new NAB chairman had been appointed in a controversial manner. Parliamentary leader of the PML-Q in the National Assembly, Faisal Saleh Hayat, said he had no hope or faith in the inquiries launched by NAB.
“The government withdrew NAB budget in its annual budget for 2009 and it was announced that NAB had been abolished. The government also committed to introduce a new law for accountability; however, the bill is stuck with the standing committee concerned for the last 20 months, which reflects the government’s sincerity. On the other hand, NAB has been activated again,” he remarked.
He said the RPP scam was the “mother of all scams” and some “big fish” were involved in the scam. “Tahir Basharat Cheema is the key player in the approval of the RPPs and he is an important government nominee in the RPPs case pending with the Supreme Court. How can the government take action against him? It seems the government is trying to hoodwink the accountability system in a bid to exonerate him,” Hayat said.
PML-N MNA Sardar Ayaz Sadiq said that Prime Minister Gilani had announced to abolish NAB prematurely as no replacement to accountability system was introduced. “NAB, under the directives of Law Minister Babar Awan, looks set to exonerate the cronies of PPP leadership. The law minister is appointing lawyers of his own choice while the cases are also being fixed with courts of his choice. So this system looks to serve the personal affairs of the minister,” he added.



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