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NAB officials barred from giving media interviews

NAB officials barred from giving media interviews

LAHORE: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal has visited the bureau’s Lahore office to review its performance and the progress on mega corruption cases.

“NAB is strictly following the policy of ‘accountability for all’ and taking mega corruption cases to their logical conclusion is the first priority,” he said during the visit.

The NAB chairman barred all its officers from giving any media interviews, after opposition politicians accused its top official in Lahore of conducting a ‘media trial’.

In a statement, the NAB chairman said only the bureau’s spokesperson would be responsible for giving NAB’s version to the media and public.

“NAB respects all the honourable members of the assembly,” the chairman said, adding that the bureau had sought record of media interviews by NAB Director-General Lahore Maj (retd) Shahzad Saleem from the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra).

Last week, leaders of opposition parties accused Saleem of carrying out a ‘media trial’ of opposition politicians and tabled a privilege motion in the National Assembly urging ‘immediate intervention’ of the house in the matter.

On Thursday, Saleem appeared on at least five political talk shows on different TV channels to talk about the ongoing corruption allegations against former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Addressing a press conference, former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi termed the DG NAB’s interviews a form of ‘political revenge’.

“It has become clear what NAB is doing,” the PML-N leader said. “A NAB official is conducting media trial of MNAs on the directions of the accountability watchdog’s chairman.”

Appearing on a show on a private news channel, Saleem said that the anti-corruption watchdog would file a reference by the end of this month against Shehbaz, the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly.

Earlier today, the NAB chairman was briefed at the bureau’s office in the provincial capital on major corruption cases and the matter pertaining to the director-general’s TV interviews.

He asked NAB officers to complete the process of checking inquiries, collecting solid evidence and bringing the cases to their logical end as per the law and also to complete all cases within 10 months so that corrupt elements could be brought to justice.

Addressing the victims of the Eden Housing Society Lahore, he said, “NAB will thoroughly review the issues of the victims and take every possible measure to return the amount.”

Separately, a private bank submitted the documents of at least 500 pages with NAB Lahore in assets beyond means case against PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif.

The documents contained the details of accounts and transactions.

NAB had initiated a case of owning assets beyond known sources of income. During the investigation in the Aashiana Housing Scheme case, Shehbaz had registered a statement that his son Salman Shehbaz was the guardian of his financial matters.

The bureau had initiated a case of assets beyond income against Salman and formed a committee to probe the matter. After progress was made in the investigation, NAB decided to initiate an inquiry against Shehbaz for owning assets beyond known sources of income.