Bilawal rejects NAB summon, calls it unconstitutional, illegal - GulfToday

Bilawal rejects NAB summon, calls it unconstitutional, illegal


Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. File

Tariq Butt

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal did not appear before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Monday. He said the call-up notice served to him by the anti-corruption watchdog is “unconstitutional and illegal.”

The NAB had summoned the PPP chairperson for a second time this month in the fake bank accounts and money laundering case on Dec.24.

During a chat with reproters, Bilawal accused the government of creating obstacles in his party’s plans to observe former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary on Dec.27.

Bilawal said he had been repeatedly announcing that the PPP would observe Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary on Dec 27 in Rawalpindi, where she was assassinated. Despite this, he said, he was issued a call-up notice by the “NAB-government nexus”.

He accused the government of “preventing a son from observing the death anniversary of his mother”.

Bilawal claimed that the government has till yet not issued permission to hold the death anniversary observance ceremony and accused it of hindering PPP workers from making transportation arrangements in connection with the event.

“I will reach Liaquat Bagh on Dec.27 and observe Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary in any condition,” he announced, saying the nation needed to be shown a way out of its current state of despair.

He said former chief justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had stated that the PPP chairperson had “nothing to do” with the fake case accounts case after receiving a report of the joint investigation team probing the matter.

Despite this, Bilawal said, he had appeared before NAB to answer its questions and also responded to the bureau’s questionnaires.

“The PPP had neither come under pressure earlier nor will I come under any pressure today,” Bilawal declared.

Despite his objections regarding NAB’s functioning, Bilawal said he will continue to appear before the NAB but not on Tuesday because “I respect the rule of law of this country and I can face all these illegitimate accusations”.

Bilawal accused the government of repeatedly “targeting” opposition parties and keeping their members incarcerated for months without charge. “What kind of accountability is this?” he asked, appealing to the judiciary to intervene and protect human rights.

A day earlier the Sukkur bench of the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday suspended till Jan.16 the bail granted to senior Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Syed Khurshid Shah by an accountability court.

The two-judge comprising Justice Naimatullah and Khadim Hussain heard the challenge to the grant of appeal filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Three months back, the NAB arrested Shah to investigate him on a host of alleged corruption charges.

Shah’s lawyers told the SHC that he did not appear before it as he was not given any notice for that. However, the NAB prosecutor said that the notice was served on Shah.

The judges decided to suspend the bail till the next date of hearing, Jan.16, of the appeal.

It had happened for the first time since the establishment of the NAB 20 years back that an accountability court had granted bail to an arrested accused. The NAB has not so far filed any case against Shah in the Sukkur accountability court.

“I have to search for even a single instance where an accountability court gave bail to an accused detained by the NAB for investigation,” former NAB prosecutor Imran Shafiq said.

He said that there was no example in the NAB’s history since 1999 when an accused apprehended by the anti-graft agency was granted bail by an accountability court.

Shafiq referred to Section 9(b) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999 and said it bars all courts to bail out the NAB accused. It says all offences under the NAO shall be non-boilable, and notwithstanding anything contained in sections 426, 491, 497, 498 and 561-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure or its any other provision, or any other law for the time being in force no court shall have jurisdiction to grant bail to any person accused of any offence under the NAO.

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