Federal ministers come to NAB’s rescue amid criticism on Khawaja Asif’s arrest

Rebuking the opposition for its criticism over the arrest of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) senior leader Khawaja Asif, federal ministers clarified on Wednesday that the National Accountability Bureau was an independent institution and did not work on anyone’s behest.

“NAB is an independent bureau which was formed before the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government came into power,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a press conference, flanked by Information Minister Shibli Faraz and Advisor to PM Babar Awan.

The statement comes a day after the PML-N leader was arrested by NAB authorities in Islamabad in an assets beyond means case.

The move severely criticised by PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz at a press conference held, a day earlier, right after the news of his arrest broke. She had termed Asif’s arrest and ‘abduction’, terming NAB an institution guilty of ‘political engineering’.

She said the anti-graft watchdog had lost all credibility even in the eyes of the country’s courts.

Qureshi stated that Asif’s arrest was not political but took place because he failed to satisfy the authorities in providing a money trail of the assets in question.

On December 29, NAB said that Asif had allegedly committed offences of corruption and corrupt practices as defined under Section (V) of the National Accountability Ordinance of 1999 and Section 3 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA), 2010, as “he accumulated assets disproportionate to his known sources of income and laundered the assets by concealing the origin and nature of assets”.

“He [Asif] has been arrested because he failed to present a money trail before the court,” the foreign minister said.

Qureshi underscored that no one was above the law and if a state institution summons any one they are obliged to appear before it.

Adding to this, Faraz stated that, unfortunately, state institutions were used for political gains in the past.

He further said that a Senate session has been called on the requisition of the opposition.

“We will ask them the same questions in the Senate tomorrow, and the nation can see their response through the live session,” he said.

Babar Awan also reiterated that no one was above the law and stated that the opposition leaders were running away from resignations.

(This story has been published from The Express Tribune feed, without modifications to the text)