A day after the Supreme Court’s blistering verdict against the National Accountability Bureau in the bail hearing for the Khawaja brothers, PML-N leaders demanded that a new anti-graft body be established.
Justice Maqbool Baqar had reprimanded the anti-graft watchdog — in a detailed, 87-page ruling in Khawaja Saad Rafique and Khawaja Salman Rafique’s bail plea — over various actions and processes, saying its “conduct throughout this case is a clear manifestation of their utter disregard for law, fair play, equity, and propriety”.
Khawaja Saad Rafique, addressing a press conference today flanked by PML-N leaders, said: “After the Supreme Court verdict, NAB has no standing.”
“NAB should be abolished […] The opposition and government should legislate for a new accountability body,” he said, adding: “There is no atmosphere of justice in NAB.”
Rafique said that history bears witness that the descendants of those who had strived for the creation of Pakistan were mistreated but there is “no precedent for what happened this time”.
“This trend, of injustice, must be stopped.”
“I was disappointed with [the] justice [system], but this decision is a beacon of light [for me],” he said, while referring to the top court’s verdict.
He said that PML-N’s Hamza Shehbaz Sharif and PPP’s Khursheed Shah, along with Jang Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, are “prisoners of conscience”.
Calling for the abolishment of NAB, Rafique said that it is “incumbent upon all political parties and the parliament to build a new institution for accountability”.
Echoing Rafique’s sentiments, the party’s general secretary Ahsan Iqbal said NAB is being used as a tool for political engineering in the country.
“Khawaja brothers were kept behind bars for no reason,” he said, adding that the anti-graft body should release Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman after Saad Rafique’s decision.
“Each day that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman remains in detention is unconstitutional,” Iqbal said.
Taking over the press conference, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the court’s decision clearly states that NAB “is not in the [best] interest of the country”.
“NAB and the government should form a consensus over abolishing the anti-graft body,” he said, adding that the “hollowness” of the accountability drama in Pakistan has been revealed.
He questioned how “NAB is quick to grab ahold of the opposition but is blind to the corrupt ones sitting in the government”.
“The opposition is thrown in jail for years,” he said.
Abbasi said the government should read the judgment and “drown in shame”.
“The NAB chairman has served as a judge. He knows what his next step should be,” Abbasi added.
Meanwhile, Khawaja Asif said that when rulers misuse institutions for the sake of their ego, a day does come when justice prevails.
“Justice prevailed in Saad Rafique’s case, and this will be remembered in the annals of history,” he said, adding that the ones who seek justice will quote this decision in books.
“I salute the Khawaja brothers who endured hardships under such a system,” Asif said.
Throwing his weight behind the journalist fraternity, the PML-N leader said that the party would use all options of protest available to support press freedom, inside and outside the Assembly.
“Everyone should have freedom of speech and writing,” Asif said.
The PML-N stalwart said that he had taken an oath of allegiance to the Constitution and that he would “fulfil it”.