–PPP and PML-N lash out at Justice (r) Iqbal over reported comments alleging prominent political figures of corruption
–Zardari says PPP will move against NAB chief for overstepping constitutional mandate
–PML-N’s Abbasi questions Iqbal’s impartiality, says NAB chief defaming politicians despite cases being sub-judice
–NAB rejects claims made in column in Urdu newspaper, says Iqbal gave no such interview
ISLAMABAD: The top official of the national accountability watchdog has stirred controversy over his reported comments published in a local Urdu newspaper, wherein he had allegedly accused prominent political figures from both the government and opposition parties of involvement in corruption and influencing the cases against them.
On Tuesday, the two major opposition parties of the country, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lashed out at National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal for levelling “baseless” accusations against politicians.
NAB, however, termed the comments baseless, saying the claims made by the columnist were contrary to the facts and that the bureau has already rejected such assertions by issuing statements in the mainstream media.
‘NAB CHIEF VIOLATED MANDATE’:
Addressing reporters in the federal capital after appearing in an accountability court in connection with the fake accounts case, PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari said that they would take action against Justice (r) Iqbal for violating his constitutional powers.
“The NAB chairman’s post does not allow him to give interviews and PPP will take action against him,” Zardari said.
“The law says that the accused is the favourite child of the court until proven guilty,” the PPP chief said, adding that right now no one is guilty and NAB is presenting people in handcuffs, dragging the elderly to the jail and then say run the economy.
Zardari also affirmed that he will continue to appear before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in cases against him.
“I will not boycott NAB proceedings. If I do so, I will be called out for not respecting the law,” he said, departing from his earlier stance of boycotting NAB proceedings.
He added that opposition will again go for re-elections, where ‘senior political leaders’ will be rested to provide an opportunity for leaders like Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to lead.
‘NAB CHIEF’S IMPARTIALITY QUESTIONABLE’:
Meanwhile, addressing a presser at the National Press Club, former prime minister and PML-N Senior Vice President Shahid Khaqan Abbasi questioned the impartiality of the NAB chief.
“The only propose of NAB is to defame politicians and put baseless allegations on them. How can the country run if politicians are always targeted,” said Abbasi.
The former premier said that it’s ironic to note that Aleem Khan received immediate bail while Ahad Cheema despite several efforts wasn’t able to secure it.
Abbasi said that the NAB chairman should not give any statement which shows favour or discrimination towards any party, adding that in the interview Justice (r) Javaid Iqbal said that Ahad Cheema’s arrogance took him to the task.
“One shouldn’t be arrogant but is arrogance a national crime,” the former prime minister questioned.
Abbasi said that the NAB chairman said that Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif are seeking a deal and ready to return money. “Either the NAB Chairman is lying or the interviewer but in both cases, politicians are being defamed.”
The former prime minister said that the NAB chairman claimed Shehbaz offered to take retirement from the politics but on contrary to it the PML-N leader never met with him.
“The character assassination campaign must stop now,” he said. “The economy is in tatters and a big share of responsibility for it rests with the NAB.”
Abbasi said that accountability is only for their party and whoever wants to save their own skin should join the government ranks.
He added:”It is sad to say that NAB is not an autonomous body and is being used as the government’s instrument to hole up all opposition leaders behind bars.”
The former premier said that NAB is using all of its resources to ensure that Nawaz Sharif remains in jail over bogus charges,”It [NAB] has been instrumental in laying waste to the Pakistan’s economy.”