ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal on Sunday halted the proceeding of the fake bank accounts case against Senate Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwala immediately after the latter lashed out at the anti-corruption watchdog for allegedly committing serious human rights violations and extorting money from people through blackmailing and using the name of the army.
“It is a blackmailing organisation. It is an extortion organisation. It is an organisation which violates human rights. I have decided to highlight NAB’s human rights violations at every international forum,” Mr Mandviwala declared while speaking at a news conference at National Press Club five days after NAB informed an accountability court that it had frozen 3.1 million shares of different companies registered in the name of Mr Mandviwala with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) in connection with the fake accounts case.
“I will take NAB before European Union, United Nations and every private entity and human rights body of the world,” said Mr Mandviwala, who belongs to the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
“We talk about human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, but we do not talk about what is happening in Pakistan and what such institutions are doing,” he said, adding that whosoever talks about it gets a notice from NAB or receives a telephone call from its officials threatening the arrest.
Mr Mandviwala particularly targeted NAB Rawalpindi director general Irfan Naeem Mangi and Muddassir, the investigation officer in his case. He alleged that Mr Mangi openly claimed that he had complete backing of the army and no one could remove him from this position.
“I appeal to Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, for God’s sake, do not support such people who defame the army and if someone in the army is supporting them then do not do it because eventually these people malign the army,” he said, disclosing that he had already written letters to the army chief and Prime Minister Imran Khan, informing them about the NAB actions which, according to him, were destroying the country’s economy.
“They [NAB officials] say that they receive instructions from Pindi [an apparent reference to the army’s General Headquarters in the city]. Who are those who give them instructions?” he asked, urging the army chief to seriously look into the matter.
Mr Mandviwala said he had now decided to investigate the appointments of all those sitting in NAB Rawalpindi through the Senate committees. He said he had asked the chairmen of the Senate committees on law and justice, privilege, and human rights to summon all these NAB officials and investigate their appointments.
He said that even the Supreme Court had sought a reply from NAB on the appointment of Mr Mangi, but so far there had been no response. “What is his agenda? What is his task?” he asked, alleging that the officials of NAB Rawalpindi were threatening people and insulting them while taking the names of the army officers.
Mr Mandviwala alleged that the NAB officials were extorting money from the people, particularly the businessmen, after threatening them and forcing them to do plea bargain after putting them in NAB cells.
He alleged that the NAB officials were pressurising him and his family members, asking them to force former managing director of Pakistan International Airlines Ijaz Haroon, also an accused in the case, to make a plea bargain deal with them. He said that even the NAB officials had asked him to pursue Mr Haroon to opt for the plea bargain. He challenged the NAB chairman to release the audio or video recording of his interrogation to the media.
Mr Mandviwala, whose three-year term as Senate deputy chairman is about to end in March 2021, vowed to bring details of the assets of all NAB officers before the parliament and the nation.
He was of the view that it was because of NAB activities that no businessman wanted to make investment in Pakistan. He said NAB was bent upon destroying the country’s economy and in the presence of NAB there was no need for anyone to have a war with Pakistan. “I will request (COAS) Gen Bajwa and the prime minister to save the country from NAB.”
Responding to a question, Mr Mandviwala said he was ready to meet the army chief, the prime minister and even the NAB chairman on the issue. He also released a number of letters which he had previously written to the army chief, the prime minister and the NAB chairman in the past couple of years complaining about NAB actions.
Replying to a question, he said the army had contacted him and told him that they were looking into the matter.
About his case, Mr Mandviwala said he had made money transactions with the army on a project which was being carried out at the land of Mangla Corps. He alleged that the NAB officials were not disclosing before the court that he had made transactions with the army.
He rejected a perception that he was using the Senate for his personal case, saying that he was doing all this to save the country and its common people. He said he had the resources and could hire a costly lawyer to fight his case, which he would do, but added that he wanted to protect the ordinary people from NAB. He said he had already submitted a privilege motion to the Senate against NAB which was his right as a senator.
Mr Mandviwala alleged that 99 per cent people who had entered into plea bargain deal with NAB had done so to save their honour and businesses. He said he would call each and every person who had done plea bargain with NAB before the Senate committees so that the media could be apprised of their stories. “It is more than raping women what they [NAB officials] have done. Hear the stories of all the people,” he added.
Mr Mandviwala said NAB claimed that it had recovered Rs150 billion, but no one was telling it that how much loss the country had suffered because of its activities.
Hours after the Senate deputy chairman’s presser, NAB issued a handout stating that the NAB chairman had taken notice of Mr Mandviwala’s accusations and immediately sought complete record of the case from NAB Rawalpindi.
“The NAB chairman has said he profoundly respects all parliamentarians. He [has] ordered impeding the proceedings of the case against Mandviwala till further orders,” it says, adding that the NAB chairman “will decide about further proceedings after examination of the record of the case in accordance with law and after getting the version of Saleem Mandviwala so that justice could be done as per law”.