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PML-N’s Abbasi terms NAB ‘a tool to carry out political engineering’

Abbasi calls NAB a 'tool to convert people into turncoats'. (Source: Dawn)

LAHORE: Former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Sunday denounced the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), terming it a tool to carry out political engineering.

“I am all for accountability, but NAB is not accountability. NAB is manipulating politics, it is punishing people without convicting them,” the former premier said while addressing the Asma Jahangir Conference in Lahore.

During the speech, the PML-N leader gave a speech detailing his grievances against the watchdog and held it responsible for a series of ailments plaguing the country. Khaqan alleged that the accountability bureau was used by “kleptocrats to change loyalties and save themselves”.

He pointed out that in one of the cases filed against him the chargesheet was 35 pages-long, while the NAB reference was 19 pages-long. Abbasi continued that the law required him to maintain financial records for the last seven years. However, he was being accused of something that occurred 35 years ago, he added.

The PML-N leader stated that those who impose taxes on the people of Pakistan should give details of their own assets. “If members of parliament walk out to sit in a vehicle that costs Rs30-60 million, go to their Rs500m home with a monthly electricity bill of 0.2m. And they pay no taxes, what does that tell you?” he asked.

“That’s a corrupt politician. Why don’t we go after them? Let us start with the president of Pakistan. Let the prime minister be next, followed by the leader of the opposition,” he added.

The former prime minister went on to say NAB is about “victimisation” — not that of an individual, or a group of individuals, or even a political party. “The entity paying the price today are the people of Pakistan,” he elaborated.

He said that when NAB was established in 2000, Pakistan had a per capita income of $576, which has since risen to $1,190. “Bangladesh was at $358 and now they are at $2,097 while India has risen to $1,900 from $443.”

He continued that accountability and electoral laws could only be amended through consensus. He lamented the fact that when the opposition presented amendments to the laws, they were later disregarded and branded by the government as an attempt to seek an NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance).

Abbasi further said that public figures were the only ones subjected to the accountability process every five years and called for having transparent investigations into such allegations.

“Install cameras in court rooms and investigation rooms. Accuse me in front of the people,” he said, calling the bureau “a tool to convert people into turncoats and to sell their souls”.

Before Abbasi, PPP’s Qamar Zaman Kaira also addressed the event, while PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif was expected to address the conference later today.


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