‘Poor performance’: Accountability czar Shahzad Akbar tenders resignation

PM Khan was unhappy with Akbar's 'poor performance': sources

  • Akbar’s replacement on the cards

ISLAMABAD: Mirza Shahzad Akbar, adviser to the prime minister on accountability and interior, presented his resignation to Imran Khan, he announced Monday.

In a tweet he sent out to announce his decision, Akbar said he would, however, “remain associated” with the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

“I sincerely hope the process of accountability continues under the leadership of PM Imran as per the PTI’s manifesto. I will remain associated with the party and keep contributing as a member of the legal fraternity,” he wrote.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication, Dr Shahbaz Gill has said Shahzad Akbar’s decision to quit was aimed at giving full time to his profession.

He claimed this in a tweet reacting to the decision of the Advisor to PM on Accountability and Interior who announced to resign on Monday.

However, Shahzad Akbar would continue to participate in the party activities and we wished him all the best for his new journey, Gill added.

PM Khan unhappy with Akbar

However, sources within the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) assert that Shahzad was directed by Prime Minister Imran Khan to submit resignation due to his failure to get the accountability cases proved against top opposition figures, especially leader of the opposition Shehbaz Sharif.

The sources said that around a week ago, PM Khan had expressed his dissatisfaction over Akbar’s performance at a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office.

“PM Imran Khan was unhappy with Akbar over what has been described as ‘slow pace’ of trials in mega corruption cases. PM expressed his annoyance to the advisor over more than one occasion,” a source said.

The source said that the Prime Minister had said that those who had been indicted in corruption cases worth billions of dollars are portraying themselves as innocent and open-and-shut cases were being delayed due to poor prosecution.

The prime minister is looking for Akbar’s replacement and has conducted interviews of some candidates including NAB’s deputy prosecutor Hasnain Asghar and Advocate Azhar Siddique as possible replacement for Akbar.

The sources said that the PM was also unhappy over the fact that inordinate delays in signing the extradition treaty with the United Kingdom to help getting Nawaz Sharif extradited back to Pakistan. PM was irked at the lack of progress on the issue even after four years, the sources added.

‘Shady role’ in Malik Riaz, NCA settlement case 

Shahzad Akbar was also alleged for his shady role in facilitating a deal between property tycoon Malik Riaz and UK-based National Crime Agency (NCA). The settlement included 1 Hyde Park Place, a £50m property, owned by Nawaz Sharif’s son Hassan Nawaz. The irony of the situation is that Prime Minister Imran Khan has been fighting to prove corruption of the same Sharif family.

Akbar, a lawyer and legal adviser, was appointed as the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability, in August 2018, two years before he was made adviser to Khan with the same portfolio.

He is a former deputy prosecutor for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and played a key role in cases of money laundering related to the 2016 Panama Papers against members of the Sharif family in which then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif was convicted in 2017.

He is also the founder, legal director and a trustee of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, an organisation that works “towards the advancement, protection and enforcement of fundamental human rights”.

Between 2011 and 2016, he represented a hundred families of civilians killed by drone strikes carried out by US forces for more than a decade.

Akbar’s appointment in 2018 was the first time a prime minister appointed a special assistant on accountability. His appointment was also in line with Khan’s electoral promise to strengthen the check and balance system in the country.

Responding to the announcement, Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry, a lawyer himself, said Akbar worked for the government under “tremendous pressure” but now “more important work” awaits him, without further elaborating.

“It was never easy to take on mafias, but the way you worked and handled cases is admirable. More important work is now awaiting you,” he said in a tweet.

 

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