ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Feeling the heat from the order of a five-member bench of the Supreme Court, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Admiral (r) Fasih Bokhari started implementing the apex court orders against the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) on Friday and cases against all beneficiaries of the controversial law were reopened.
The arrests of a close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari and a close friend and former jail-mate of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani by the accountability watchdog came as a huge surprise, as Admiral (r) Bokhari had told the apex court during the last hearing of the NRO implementation case only a few days ago that he would not implement the verdict.Within a single day, not only notices were issued to several accused people but also big fish such as former Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) chairman Adnan Khwaja, former establishment secretary Ismail Qureshi and former joint director of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Ahmed Riaz Shaikh – a close confidant of President Zardari – were questioned and detained, while the hunt was on for others.
A team of the NAB Special Operations Wing took Qureshi, currently principal of the National School of Public Policy, in custody late on Friday night while he was in a meeting at his office.Sources close to Qureshi’s family told Pakistan Today that the NAB team arrested Qureshi only half an hour after Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had left the school after meeting him.Sources said Qureshi resisted arrest and informed the raiding party that he had filed a writ petition for pre-arrest bail in the Lahore High Court and the LHC CJ had referred his matter to Justice Manzoor for further action.
Sources said the raiding team did not pay heed to his words and took him into custody, saying they had clear orders to arrest him. Qureshi was arrested for his alleged involvement in financial embezzlement at the National School of Public Policy. Qureshi was taken to the NAB PunjabOffice at Thokar Niaz Baig along with Khwaja, where they will both be detained for one night and will be moved to Rawalpindi early on Saturday (today) in order to present them in court.
The arrest of Shaikh may jolt the presidential camp as the president had pardoned him earlier. Shaikh was been appointed FIA additional director general despite being an NRO beneficiary. The Supreme Court had taken notice of the issue and on orders from the court, he was rearrested by the police. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison on 2001 on charges of corruption, but he benefitted from the NRO. While he was in jail, not only did important Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) personalities meet him, but the president also granted general pardon to all the prisoners to get him out of jail.
Adnan Khwaja, who is not only an NRO beneficiary but also a jail-mate of Prime Minister Gilani, was first appointed the OGDCL director general and was subsequently removed after the Supreme Court took suo motu notice of the appointment. He is an FA-pass individual without any relevant experience who was appointed OGDCL’s managing director on September 9, 2010 in clear violation of the rules.Arrest warrants were issued for around half a dozen accused and it was expected that more arrests would be made soon. A source in NAB told Pakistan Today that the bureau’s chief had reactivated the Special Operations Wing only a few days ago.
Arrest warrants were issued by the NAB’s Rawalpindi and Lahore offices against those who had benefited from the NRO or else were wanted on directions from the apex court. He said Khwaja and Shaikh had appeared before NAB offices and were detained while arrest warrants against others were issued.In its verdict in the NRO implementation case last week, the five-member bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had questioned the attitude of the NAB chairman, terming it “defiance against the court” as Bokhari had reportedly refused to implement the verdict.
The warrants were issued against Qureshi, Shaikh, Tahir Shahbaz, Raja Ahsen, Akhlaq Jillani and RA Zia. The source said efforts were on to arrest others who had failed to appear before NAB. Qureshi was the establishment secretary when Khwaja was appointed OGDCL chief, while Tahir Shahbaz was additional secretary and RA Zia was serving as the Cabinet Division deputy secretary. – PT