ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau chairman Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari has said President Asif Ali Zardari enjoys immunity abroad and no case can be tried against him.
“Being incumbent head of the state, Mr Zardari has complete immunity,” the NAB chief said at a press conference here on Wednesday. It was his first interaction with the media since his appointment as NAB chairman in October last year.
Although Admiral Bokhari held the press conference because he wanted to discuss the plot being granted to him as a public servant, he was asked a number of tough questions by the media personnel.
In reply to a question, he said: “In my observation the president enjoys complete immunity, but the Supreme Court may have its own point of view and verdict.”
He could not answer when asked if a money-laundering case made by his department against President Zardari fit for trial. Asked if his department had written a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen cases against the president, he said the NAB had written a letter in 2010, but the Supreme Court did not accept it and ordered that it should have been written by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, and not by the bureau. Admiral Bokhari said 12 boxes containing documents of the president’s case were still lying with the NAB and were in safe hands.
He rejected a perception that he was appointed head of the country’s premier accountability department only to provide cover to PPP leaders in their cases. “I will do across-the-board accountability and try to control corruption by different regulators at all levels, and not only by big fish.”
He said there was a trend in the NAB that it went after big fish and ignored corruption in lower levels. “NAB usually ignore big gush of corruption by putting its concentration only on big fish,” he added.
About the issue of plot, Admiral Bokhari said being a government servant he was eligible to get one plot as a onetime opportunity in life, but some elements were trying to give a negative angle that he was given this facility to stop taking action against the ruling elite.
RPPS: The NAB chief said the interior ministry had placed on the exit control list (ECL) the names of all important people, including four former federal ministers, alleged involved in corruption and mismanagement in rental power projects’ deals.
He rejected media reports that the names of these people were still not on the ECL. “Please check it again with the interior ministry; you will find their names on the ECL,” he said.
Interestingly, the NAB chairman and his deputy Javed Kazi told reporters that the bureau could go for a plea bargain with the accused to recover the amount siphoned off in the RPP
This is contrary to the Supreme Court’s directives issued this month. The court had ordered the NAB to recover the entire amount given to RPPs as mobilisation advance, along with interest.
“Under rule 25 of the NAB Ordinance, we can go for plea bargain in any case,” Admiral Bokhari said. He said the NAB was working on cases relating to Pakistan Railways and accused in two cases of sale of scarp had been arrested. Three army officers were also involved in these cases, he added.
ISAF CONTAINER CASE: The NAB chief said his department was following inquiry report of the federal tax ombudsman to ascertain facts regarding tax evasion in supply of goods to Isaf forces through Pakistan.
The NAB chairman said his department was currently working with 25 per cent strength and 300 more officers were being inducted into the bureau. “We also wish to bring back to the NAB two wings of the Federal Investigation Agency which were repatriated to the agency,” he added.