Awami Muslim League (AML) Chairman Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed on Monday moved the Supreme Court against the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), accusing the anti-graft watchdog of failing to file an appeal in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case in accordance with the SC’s Panamagate verdict.
In a petition submitted before the apex court, Rasheed, who is one of the three petitioners in the Panama Papers case, pleaded that NAB’s lawyer had assured the court on July 21 that he will file an appeal within a week, challenging the decision of the Lahore High Court (LHC) to close the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case. However, NAB had not acted upon its “voluntary undertaking” in the court and is therefore guilty of contempt of court, the AML chief pleaded.
During the Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had confessed to his involvement in laundering $14.86 million (about Rs1.2bn) for the Sharif family, in a statement submitted before a magistrate on April 25, 2000, on the basis of which he was pardoned in the case.
According to Rasheed, the NAB lawyer’s statement was included in the SC verdict of the Panama Papers case, in which the judges had ordered the bureau to file a reference and restart an investigation of the case. He said that he had sent NAB a reminder notice after seven days, however, the bureau had failed to act.
Rasheed claimed that according to media reports, NAB has apparently decided not to file an appeal and alleged that the institution was acting in favour of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his family and Ishaq Dar.
Meanwhile, the AML chief also sent a letter to the NAB chairman, saying that failure to comply with SC’s order “exposes [the bureau] to contempt of court”.
“I hereby call upon you, as a petitioner in the case, to let me know when you are filing a requisite appeal… [otherwise] I will be constrained after seven days to prosecute you for the grossest and contemptuous arduously deceptive undertaking you dubiously and hideously gave,” Rasheed’s letter stated, adding that NAB will be “squarely responsible” for all costs and damages in the process.
The SC, in its verdict of the Panama Papers case, had questioned the role of the NAB chairman, who had seemingly favoured the Sharifs in the Hudaibya Paper Mills case by not challenging the LHC’s decision to close the reference.
“NAB did not challenge that judgement before the Supreme Court through any petition/appeal as NAB chairman had been appointed by [Nawaz Sharif] himself and, therefore, he had returned the favour by not filing any petition/appeal in that case against [Mr Sharif] and others. NAB chairman had failed in due performance of his duty in that regard,” the verdict said.
While addressing reporters outside the court, Rasheed said that rumours are circulating that another NRO (National Reconciliation Order) is being prepared.
“Attempts are being made to save people’s assets,” he alleged.
While referring to potential moves by the government to amend the constitutional clauses after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister under Article 62 of the Constitution, he said that as long as this assembly is here, Articles 62, 63 are not going anywhere.