ISLAMABAD - NAB Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal on Tuesday hinted at a “wind of change” to address the complaint about one-sided accountability process.

Speaking at an awards distribution ceremony among outstanding NAB officers, the chairman stated “The country will see a wind of change as the institution had previously focused only on corruption cases filed in the past. We are moving to a new ground now and the complaint against the accountability process which seemed one-sided will be addressed.”

Javed Iqbal also warned the incumbent rulers that they would not be exempted from the accountability process in the country. “The institution has witnessed corruption made in the last 30 to 35 years and it will scrutinise those gained power since last few months,” he added.

He asserted that no NRO would be made on the bureau’s part, saying: “One person gets medical treatment in London or America, whereas other people do not.”

“Some people even treat their influenza virus in London, are other people not humans?” he asked.

Rules out deal or NRO-like concessions to corruption suspects

“No one should expect that the bureau will turn a blind eye towards ‘a person in power’. No one should anticipate that the ruling party has no responsibility.”

“Those people who have never read the NAB law are also criticising it. I am not crying over lack of resources but the available resources should be utilised at their maximum efficiency,” he said.

The chairman questioned: “Why would the NAB take political revenge from someone? If someone is arrested today, the very next day, [the arrested person] says that political revenge is being taken.”

He pointed out that the country has been under debt of more than $100 billion, and stated: “You think asking for its calculation is a crime!”

He mentioned that after 2017, no mega scandal has been unearthed and the bureau had focused on those cases which had been pending for a long time. “It is asked what the NAB has done for the BRT. The Supreme Court had given a stay order and we are trying to resolve the matter,” he outlined. “If arresting criminals is a crime, then this crime will go on,” he said.

Javed said no threat, criticism or browbeating could deter him from performing his national duty of eradication of corruption and the accountability process would continue unabated. He said that he would never compromise on his principals and accountability and there would be no deal or NRO like concessions to corruption suspects.

He said he has no enmity or friendship or personal grudge against anyone and the NAB will continue to work in accordance with law and will take action on corruption complaints.

Strongly denying the propaganda of some vested elements, he said no mega corruption case has been reported since the year 2017. He urged the politicians to utilize the option of plea bargain and go to the place of their choice.

The chairman lamented that the bureau was not being allowed to work in a province (Sindh), adding whenever NAB initiates a case, a provincial minister appears on TV screens and start criticizing the NAB blaming discrimination. He directed the officers to work fearlessly.

He said, “If the health budget of a province is in billions of rupees, and vaccine of dogbite is not available, then questions would be raised”.

He said NAB has the right to raise a question over the authenticity of a project when over million rupees would be spent on a Rs5,000 project.

The NAB chairman said, 1270 references involving Rs940 billion were still pending in various accountability courts and only 25 judges are available for hearing the references. He urged enhancing the number of judges to at least 50 for prompt disposal of corruption references.

He said NAB must not be blamed for delay in disposal of cases in such a situation. He said now onwards the focus of accountability is being shifted from the people enjoyed over three decades rule to the persons ruling the country since 12 to 14 months.

The performance of NAB must not be judged on the statements of the people who are at NAB’s radar. Media should confirm a report before publishing or broadcasting it.

He said improvement has already been observed in the performance of NAB since October 2017. The conviction ratio of bureau has been up to 70 percent.

He urged the officers to ensure protecting respect of the suspects. The concept of handcuffing a suspect has already been eliminated. However, the suspects could be handcuffed.

NAB has so far recovered Rs328 billion including Rs150 billion indirectly since inception. It has benefited Rs1.16 billion to government exchequer by doing away with the inappropriate benefits being provided to certain telecom companies, he said.

Brushing aside fears of bureaucracy, he said from out of over 1,200 pending references not more than 10 references were against bureaucrats. However the characters like Mushtaq Raisani and Liaquat Qaimkhani do exist in bureaucracy where millions of rupees were recovered from their homes.

Later, the chairman awarded shields and cash prize of Rs25,000 each to outstanding officers of NAB who recovered record Rs2.13 billion and Rs11.16 billion in plea bargain of fake account case, Steel Mills land and Nooriabad Power Company.