The chairman asked until when would we prefer personal interests over national interests?

LAHORE (Dunya News) – National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman retired justice Javed Iqbal on Thursday announced to hand over all tax-related cases to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

While addressing the traders’ community in Lahore, the NAB chief refuted speculations on certain section of the media that there was any nexus between the government and the accountability watchdog in the filings and proceedings of the corruption cases.

“Those, who were once seen on bicycles, could be seen [building] towers in Dubai […] until my approval, there couldn’t be any plea bargain,” he said.

The chairman asked until when would we prefer personal interests over national interests? "I am presenting myself to you for my own accountability. Review the last two years and point out at what stage and what mistakes we made," he said.

“The supreme court has handed over many cases of money laundering to us [the bureau] … the NAB doesn’t exceed its jurisdictions and we haven’t undertaken any of the tax cases […] saving taxes and committing money laundering are two different matters,” he said, adding other cases of Panama were still being heard. “We will transfer all cases pertaining to taxes to the FBR.”

The NAB chief termed the bureau as “human-friendly” institution and called it a responsibility of courts to convict or acquit someone in accordance with the state’s Constitution.

“There’s a lot of difference between conducting a business and money laundering,” he added, while urging the traders and businessmen to give priority to national interests over personal gains.

“Your identification is based on Pakistan,” he mentioned, while pointing out reasons of financial crisis that affected economical growth of the country. “The country is under the burden of $100 billion debt […] where the amount was spent?” he asked further.

“With a begging bowl in our hands, we cannot talk with other countries on equality […] even a small country has refuted to provide us evidence and when it was contacted again, that country’s court issued a stay order,” he said regretfully.

Justice (rtd) Javed Iqbal termed it “unfair” that a much less amount could be paid back [as plea bargain] after plundering massive amount of money.

"Do you think that after 35 years of judicial service, I would take any step that is for anyone’s pleasure?" he asked. He said his first loyalty was to God, and then towards Pakistan and its people.

"If anyone of you thinks that NAB is affiliated with the current government, this is one hundred per cent an incorrect impression." "NAB should be given the credit it deserves," he said. He stated that he decides when an individual is allowed to turn into an approver.

“Either the approvers come to Islamabad or he goes to them.” They are first questioned if there was any force or illegal incentive for them to be made an approver, and then they are examined if they were in their senses when they made the statement, which is then is read out to them.

“I have been affiliated with justice all my life, I respect the dignity and honour everybody […] the era of mughals and kings is over,” he added.