Islamabad -  The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reiterated on Sunday that it remains independent and autonomous in the discharge of its legal mandate and statutory functions without any bias.

In a clarification, the NAB dismissed as baseless some conjectures and insinuations as to the pressure exerted by extraneous elements on the national institution fighting corruption.

The clarification from the NAB comes after Federal Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal claimed during his press conference in Lahore on Saturday that some elements were pressurizing the anti-graft body to file the reference in the Hudybiha Papers Mills case against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his close relatives.

In a related development, the NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry said that the bureau was committed to rooting out corruption as it is one of the major hurdles in the way of merit and deprives deserving persons of their due right.

He said that the initiatives taken by the present management of NAB have started yielding excellent results. “Today due to NAB’s proactive anti-corruption strategy, NAB’s overall conviction ratio is about 76 percent which is a remarkable achievement in the investigation of white collar crimes,” he said. He said that the hard work, commitment, transparency, and labour being put in by NAB officials are being appreciated by national and international organizations.

“The NAB has not only recovered Rs50 billion during the tenure of the present management but also deposited in the national exchequer,” he said.

Chaudhry said that the NAB officers received not a single rupee from the recovered money as they considered eradication of corruption their national duty. He said that due to the excellent conviction ratio, the people of Pakistan trusted the NAB and due to this reason, NAB received almost double complaints as compared to the same period of 2014 to 2017.

He said that today NAB has moved with new zeal and effort. Through detailed introspection and analysis of organizational weaknesses, the overhaul of procedures and business processes, all pillars of the organization i.e. operations, prosecution, human resource development and awareness and prevention have been reactivated. He said that the NAB has rationalized its workload and timelines have been prescribed for efficient, effective and expeditious disposal of cases putting a maximum limit of 10 months- from complaint verification-to-inquiry-to-investigation and finally to a reference in the accountability court.

He said that the quality of inquiry and investigation of NAB has been improved due to the establishment of NAB’s first Forensic Science Lab (FSL) in Islamabad which has all facilities of Digital Forensics, Questioned Documents and Fingerprint Analysis. He said that the NAB has devised a web-based Monitoring and Evaluation System (MES) in order to monitor NAB performance in the qualitative and quantitative term which has proved very successful and the performance of NAB is being enhanced day by day.

He said that the present management initiated a dialogue with the anti-corruption authorities of the SAARC countries with a proposal to set up a SAARC Anti-Corruption Forum. The NAB hosted the first meeting of its kind in Islamabad where the heads of SAARC anti-corruption authorities including India agreed for the creation of SAARC Anti-Corruption Forum. This was a reorganization of NAB’s excellent work during the tenure of present management.

He said that the NAB was the only organization with whom China has signed a MoU to oversee projects to be undertaken under CEPC. He said that signing of the MOU between Pakistan and China is especially significant in the backdrop of increasing economic and trade cooperation between the two countries with the resolve by both the governments to work in a fair, impartial and corruption-free environment in order to share their experiences to eradicate corruption.

He said that the NAB has constituted 60 prevention committees in the country under its prevention regime in order to identify/suggest ways and means to plug loopholes and measures for improvement/strengthening regulatory mechanism of federal and provincial governments for transparency, meritocracy, fair play and compliance of relevant laws/rules.

The NAB’s prevention committees contributed very well and remained successful in plugging loopholes and irregularities in the different department due to their meaningful interaction and recommendations.