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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), Monday, directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to complete an inquiry regarding former president Pervez Musharraf’s assets within a month.

A division bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan issued the directions, while hearing a contempt of court petition against the chairman NAB for not acting against Musharraf for his alleged corruption during his tenure as the head of country.

Col (retd) Inamur Rahim Advocate had filed a petition seeking contempt of court proceedings against the chairman NAB for not initiating an inquiry into the allegations that Musharraf in his nomination papers had declared assets beyond his known sources of income.

The chief justice said every public office holder, including the anti-graft watchdog, is answerable to the public.

During the hearing, the NAB prosecutor submitted a written reply and para-wise comments.

He stated that the chairman NAB has the highest respect for this court and would not, in any way, wilfully disobey any orders passed by it or even contemplate any disregard whatsoever, with respect to the same.

He added that the NAB chairman never committed any contempt or disobeyed the orders of this court, as in accordance with the orders of this bench vide judgment dated 08.02.2018, an inquiry against Musharraf was authorized on 15.03.2018 and the petitioner was also associated with the inquiry; hence the petition merits dismissal.

The prosecutor contended that the contempt petition instituted under Article 204 of the Constitution of 1973 and the provisions of Sections 3 and 4 of Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 is not maintainable in its present form and the content of the aforesaid petition does not reveal any Constitutional contempt which may attract the provisions of Article 204 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973. “Whereof the aforesaid petition is misconceived, baseless and is liable to be dismissed summarily,” said the reply.

During the proceeding, the chief justice said the NAB has a responsibility to dispel the impression that only elected representatives are held accountable, and as a public office holder, Musharraf’s case was a test for the bureau. “The NAB is responsible to restore people’s confidence in it,” he said.

To the court query about how much time was required to complete the probe in Musharraf’s case, the NAB prosecutor, Jahanzeb Bharwana, informed that the report would be submitted within a month as an inquiry - looking into a total of 29 properties belonging to Musharraf - was under way.

Inamur Rahim argued; “If the case was pertaining to a politician, a joint investigation team would have been formed by now,” adding the NAB prosecutor’s reply is an acceptance of delay from their end.

Upon that, the IHC CJ remarked that the court will not interfere with the NAB’s investigation. “Pervez Musharraf is not a general but a politician. We will not allow political speech here [in court],” he said.

The NAB reply also stated that according to advocate Syed Muhammad Iqbal Hashmi, Musharraf’s lawyer, the former army chief is suffering from life-threatening “cardiac amyloidosis” (congestive heart failure), chronic kidney disease (high creatinine and renal system), excessive somnolence (hyper-somnia), and spinal injury and fracture.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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