National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Javed Iqbal on Monday urged ministers to avoid giving their predictions on ongoing investigations and cases.
“Sometimes ministers give such statements. But how will their vote bank be secured if they don’t give such sentimental statements? I request ministers […] to at least try to avoid making predictions [about cases],” he said.
Iqbal said that there was nothing “intelligent” about predicting someone’s arrest before it actually happens.
The chairman was speaking at a ceremony on International Anti-Corruption Day in Islamabad, attended by President Dr Arif Alvi, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and various ministers.
The NAB chairman said that the bureau is always accused of looking in one direction [at one group of people].
“The direction of the winds are changing. You will feel this in the coming weeks,” he said, adding that there should be some distinction between those [parties] which ruled for 30-35 years and those who have been in power for 12-14 months.
He said that NAB holds no grudges against anyone.
This is not the first time the NAB chairman has talked about the bureau’s impartiality. In July, in an apparent rebuttal to the criticism being mounted by the opposition parties against the bureau, Iqbal asked why the watchdog would seek political revenge against any particular individual.
The anti-corruption watchdog over the past two years has snared several senior politicians — including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, former president Asif Ali Zardari and government officials — for allegedly being involved in corrupt practices. Many politicians from PPP as well as PML-N have criticised the bureau and called its accountability process “selective”. PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in many of his press conferences and rallies has termed NAB a “black law” that was made by a dictator.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, during his address in the parliament following his arrest last year, had lambasted what he called an “unholy alliance between PTI and NAB”.
During his address today, the NAB chairman maintained that corruption needs to be eliminated, adding that the entire country will have to support the bureau in achieving this feat.
“If there is no legislation, there will be no rule of law. The parliament has to play its due role,” he said. Iqbal, however, clarified that he has no intention of criticising the parliament or any institution.
“As far as NAB is concerned, we have laid down the first stone,” he said. “People now know that they cannot get away with corrupt practices and that it [corruption] won’t be permitted anymore.”
Iqbal said certain individuals who were previously untouchable by government institutions are now being held accountable for their crimes.
“This is the first time this has happened and the credit for this goes to NAB. Those people […] are seeking bail in courts or […] have fled [the country],” Iqbal remarked, adding that the government is only owed credit for not interfering in NAB’s affairs.
The NAB chairman said that since the accountability bureau was formed, Rs382 billion had been deposited in the national exchequer. “Since 2017, Rs153 billion have been recovered by the bureau — in both direct and indirect recoveries — and were deposited in the national exchequer.”