ISLAMABAD: Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman on Tuesday accused the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) of “facilitating” corrupt people instead of going after them, saying NAB’s performance was “zero” as PAC has made more recoveries than the anti-graft body during his tenure.
Irked by the absence of NAB chairman Lt Gen (retd) Nazir Ahmad Butt, PAC chairman Noor Alam Khan directed to fix a PAC meeting next week with directions to the NAB chairman to appear before the accountability arm of the parliament.
When the NAB officials told the PAC chairman that Butt couldn’t appear before the committee as his scheduled flight had been cancelled, Alam said that he would dig out the claim if the NAB chairman was in Islamabad or somewhere else, saying “I have more powers than NAB.”
Following PAC meeting, Alam while answering a question, said that finding out about flight cancellation, among other things, was not difficult. He reiterated that everyone is answerable to the PAC.
Lashing out at the NAB chairman, Alam said that Butt takes roughly Rs1.8 million as salary but the recoveries are not up to the mark and dozens of cases referred to NAB by PAC were still pending for months. “I’m not satisfied with NAB’s performance,” Alam said, reiterating that they take hefty salaries but “performance is zero”.
Alam made it clear that he won’t take briefing from the NAB officials, including NAB’s deputy chairman, saying the Principal Accounting Officer (PAO), the NAB chairman, should appear before the PAC to explain things next week. “Instead of going after corrupt people,” Noor said, “NAB is facilitating them.”
At one point, Alam said that he doesn’t fear anyone and won’t take briefings from anyone other than the PAO even if people are not happy with him, approach him, or ask others to make calls to take briefing.
The remarks came after PML-N’s Birjees Tahir asked why he was taking a lenient view when NAB chairman being PAO was absent.
Alam angrily replied that “Birjees Tahir Sahib, I don’t fear anyone”, saying he won’t take briefing from NAB officials present in the meeting but was just asking why NAB chairman was absent.
Meanwhile, at the request of Shaikh Rohale Asghar, Alam directed NAB officials to submit details of the expenses made on all the cases that were later dropped at the initial or court stage, saying the money belonged to the government and NAB should answer about all such expenses that have gone into vain.
The direction came after Asghar drew committee’s attention to NAB’s habit of dropping cases at different stages, accusing the Bureau of harassing people through such cases. He sought data of all the cases, including the Broadsheet case, that have been dropped later on but cost the national kitty dearly.
During the meeting, Alam revealed that PAC has made recoveries of roughly Rs1 trillion since he became PAC chairman and took first meeting on June 7, 2022. He also disclosed that most of the cases that were sent to NAB were still pending.
Though PAC documents are usually kept away from media officials, Alam directed his associates to share the details of the recoveries with media. The Rs1tr recovery statement, however, showed the starting date from December 2018 to June 2022 and onwards till April 2023.
It stated that total Rs999,013.06 million – almost Rs1 trillion – have so far been recovered from different departments, including federal government, social safety net, water resources, power sector, railways, and others located in different cities like Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, and Rawalpindi.