ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in Wednesday’s National Assembly proceedings asked the parliamentary parties to jointly form a special committee to summon the NAB chairman to probe allegations against former premier Nawaz Sharif on money laundering worth 4.9 billion dollars to India.

The opposition parties, discouraging the tradition to intervene the country’s institutional matters, sought time to come up with response after consulting their respective parties whereas PML-N’s coalition partners (PkMAP and JUI-F) supported the idea to constitute a parliamentary special committee to probe it.

The prime minister, in the middle of the budget debate, slammed the NAB’s move to initiate money-laundering probe against Nawaz Sharif and termed it ‘pre-poll rigging’. Abbasi sought opinions of all the parliamentary parties on formation of a special committee to summon the NAB chairman and record evidences regarding allegations against the former prime minister. “It is a serious matter. Under Rule 244, a special committee should probe the matter and submit a report before the house,” he said.

About the NAB’s recent move, Abbasi said the money-laundering allegations against the PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif in the current circumstances were tantamount to pre-poll rigging. The allegations against the former prime minister, Abbasi said, are of a serious nature, which brought a bad name to the country. He also read out the press release issued by NAB on May 8 about the NAB’s order to initiate an inquiry into allegations of 4.9 billion dollars’ money laundering by the former prime minister.

He said the NAB was constituted by a dictator. He also urged the opposition to bring amendments to the accountability law. “Unfortunately, consensus could not be evolved for amendments in the past,” he said. He expressed dismay over injustice from NAB.

“Three weeks of the incumbent assemblies are left, so still there is some time to bring a consensus regarding accountability law on which agreement has already been made,” the premier floated a proposal.

About the former prime minister’ cases in NAB, he expressed disappointment over the role of the accountability body. “Several NAB cases are being heard against the former PM, but I am not expecting justice in the cases. Justice must not only be done but it must also be seen to be done,” he remarked.

“How would a country and institutions function when the NAB chairman levels allegations of money laundering to an enemy country like India? It is disrespect for the country,” he said, mentioning the name of the NAB chairman was jointly proposed by him and the opposition leader for this slot.

Commenting upon the suggestion of the prime minister, PPP’s Naveed Qamar said it would be a new precedent to summon the head of any institution about its work. He sought one day to consult his party. “We (PPP) will decide in a day to participate in the committee or not,” he said.

PTI’s Asad Umar strongly opposed the idea to form a special committee to probe the allegations. “It will be a dangerous trend if such kind of step is taken.

MQM’s Sheikh Salahuddin said his party would come up with its answer on this proposal in two days.

PML-N’s coalition partner PkMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai strongly supported the idea to form a special committee. “If these allegations prove wrong, action should be taken against the NAB chairman,” he said.

Earlier, Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir also demanded probe against the NAB chairman and regarding internal working and processes of determining investigations by the anti-graft body.

About the money laundering to India, he said the former prime minister’s name was not mentioned in the World Bank report, which has been clarified by the WB officials. “I will say it is not Nawaz Sharif’s trial but a trial of the people,” he said, condemning initiation of enquiry against PML-N’s Quaid.

Taking part in the budget debate, PTI’s Shireen Mazari slammed the incumbent government’s foreign policy. “This government is working under the pressure of the United States without having any proper foreign policy,” she said.

Mazari said the relations with Iran and Afghanistan have further deteriorated due to the policies of the government. “The government has also mishandled the Kashmir case,” she alleged, adding the government has not properly presented the Kashmir case before international community. She feared Shakil Afridi would also be handed over to the United States.

PPP’s Abdus Sattar Bachani, on his turn, said the government has not provided proper relief for the agriculture sector. “The PML-N regime is more interested in Kalabagh dam as compared to the rest of dams including Bhasha dam,” he said.

 

NA SPEAKER SEEKS PARTIES’ RECOMMENDATIONS

 

National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq asked the political parties to give their recommendations for constituting a special committee through a motion to investigate the NAB allegations against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

For the time being, the speaker deferred the proposed motion so that all parties may submit their views about it.

He asked the Parliamentary Affairs Minister to inform him about the proposal of the political parties in this regard after consultation with them.

On its part, the National Accountability Bureau on Wednesday clarified its position over money laundering inquiry against Nawaz Sharif and said it had ordered the investigation on the basis of a media report.

According to the NAB statement, the Bureau ordered to start investigation into money laundering allegations against Nawaz Sharif on the basis of a column of Muhammad Tauseef Siddqui, which was published in the daily Ausaf on February 01, 2018.

The columnist said in his column that the disqualified PM Sharif, former Finance Minster Ishaq Dar and former Governor State Bank of Pakistan Ashraf Mahmood Wathra had laundered 4.9 billion US dollars from Pakistan forgoing remittance through former Deputy Chairman State Bank of Pakistan Saeed Ahmed.

It said Saeed Ahmed sent 4.9 billion US dollars to Dubai and then transferred the money to India. It further said that the World Bank Country Manager for Pakistan and its internal auditors traced this money laundering case during a detailed audit of the Foreign Currency Reservation accounts in the State Bank head office Karachi and the World Bank has mentioned this case in its detailed report “Migration and Remittance Book 2016, which is also available on the internet.

The Bureau rejected the impression that its objective was victimisation or hurting someone. The NAB reiterated that the institution did not believe in victimisation.

The statement further said that any investigation pertaining to money laundering falls under NAB’s jurisdiction. “The institution is resolved to end corruption while remaining under its legal jurisdiction,” said the statement.

On Tuesday, NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal took the notice of money laundering allegations against Nawaz Sharif. The NAB chairman ordered an investigation against former Prime Minister.

According to press statement, the NAB chairman took notice of reports making rounds on news channels claiming that Nawaz had laundered $4.9 billion to India.

The media reports claimed that a record of this existed in the World Bank’s Migration and Remittances book of 2016. The reports claimed that the injection of such an amount into India’s foreign reserves resulted in an increase in their resources while inflicting harm on the Pakistan’s economy.