From Abid Usman
LAHORE: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Wednesday demanded that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) be abolished and its chairman, Justice (r) Javed Iqbal should resign and go home, two days after the Supreme Court’ (SC) slammed the anti-corruption watchdog for its “utter disregard for the law” in its verdict in the Paragon Housing Society case.
Bilawal’s remarks came a day after the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) demanded a new accountability body in view of the apex court’s ruling.
“Our first step should be to end NAB and shut it down as it’s a scar on the face of the legal system of Pakistan,” Bilawal said while addressing a press conference here. He said that after the top court’s verdict there was no reason for NAB to stay. “The NAB chairman, who was a judge at one point, should resign if he has any respect or has read the judgement,” he added. “If the highest court in this country has put it out there then we cannot leave it just here. He added that NAB should “clarify” itself as the SC order said that it was not taking action against the government’s mega corruption cases.
“The Bureau should launch an investigation into the foreign funding case, BRT, billion tree cases, special assistants’ assets declaration and dual nationality cases at once,” Bilawal said. The PPP chief said if his party had made such a declaration then they would have been “facing an asset beyond mean cases and the media would have declared them as traitors”.
“If our system is two-faced then how can he [NAB chairman] come and say accountability will be done from head to toe?” asked Bilawal, calling for an end to the “joke” that was being done with Pakistan. PML-N leaders, including Khawaja Saad Rafique, while addressing a press conference on Tuesday had said after the SC’s verdict NAB has no standing. “NAB should be abolished The opposition and government should legislate for a new accountability body,” he said, adding: “There is no atmosphere of justice in NAB.”
Rafique said that history bears witness that the descendants of those who had strived for the creation of Pakistan were mistreated but there is “no precedent for what happened this time”.
The SC on Monday in its detailed verdict on a bail petition filed by PML-N leaders Khawaja Saad Rafique and Khawaja Salman Rafique in the Paragon Housing Society case highlighted severe lapses in due process and legal procedure by NAB. In the detailed, 87-page ruling, penned by Justice Maqbool Baqar, the court highlighted the definition and purpose of bail as well as due process in criminal cases. According to the judge, it was unfortunate that “even after 72 years since the creation of our country, and despite 47 years since the adoption of the constitution, we have not been able to realize the spirit and essence of the ideals set out therein”.