ISLAMABAD: Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau retired justice Javed Iqbal finally appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the parliament on Tuesday and requested it to convene an in-camera meeting to review the performance of his organisation.
While the NAB chairman had been avoiding successive meetings despite repeated summons, the committee members hailed his decision to appear before the accountability panel.
Contrary to the routine practice of aggressively grilling the principal accounting officers (PAOs) of ministries/divisions, the committee members put friendly questions and the auditors raised fewer objections in the audit report of NAB as compared to different ministries.
PAC chairman Rana Tanveer Hussain also assured the NAB chairman of the committee’s help in settling an audit objection of Rs3.6 billion lapse of funds, which was not in the committee’s domain. He said the committee would write a letter to the National Assembly for settlement of the audit para.
However, when he expressed dissatisfaction over the report submitted by the NAB about recoveries, Justice Iqbal requested the PAC for holding an in-camera session so that he could satisfy all the members.
Subsequently, the PAC decided to convene the in-camera meeting in the first week of January.
While talking to the media later, Justice Iqbal said he continued to hold the office as per law after his tenure as President Arif Alvi had promulgated the ordinance regarding his extension till the appointment of new chairman.
Asked about bureau’s inaction on the issues of wheat and sugar crisis, NAB chairman said that those issues were being dealt by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who appeared before an accountability court in LNG-terminal reference, meanwhile, criticised the NAB and the government for being lenient with sugar and wheat mafia.
However, retired Justice Iqbal in response to another question said only those in the opposition who were facing references for their wrongdoings were criticising the bureau.
The ex-premier in his interaction with journalists also criticised the delay in appointment of new chairman of the accountability watchdog. He said the summary for the appointment had been forwarded to President Alvi, but the latter appeared to be too busy in materializing contracts with foreign dentists.
He said the economy was at the verge of collapse and the opposition members had the options to resign from assemblies en masse and tabling a no-trust motion to topple the government.
Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2021