Islamabad: The Chairman of Pakistan’s anti-graft watchdog National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Justice Javed Iqbal, has assured the country’s business community that their concerns will be addressed and no NAB officer will harass them in the name of an inquiry or investigation in tax evasion or other matters that fall under the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
He has, however, dismissed some of their reservations against NAB calling them completely “baseless”.
Addressing an urgently called press conference on Sunday, the NAB chairman referred to some noted business tycoons’ meeting with Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on October 3 and expressed his surprise that one of them had expressed his reservations about NAB in the meeting.
Iqbal said he would not name the person who spoke against NAB but said that a few days prior to that meeting the same person had written him a letter in which he had spoken highly of the Bureau and its operation against money launderers.
Iqbal said that not only the said businessman but two others who were also present in the meeting with the army chief.
However, the chairman said “if need be I can furnish the letters written by these gentlemen.”
About various administrative and operational lapses being referred to by the business community in the meeting with the COAS, the NAB chief said every person or institution can make lapses. However, he added there was a strict system of checks and balances in place in NAB and if something is done inadvertently it is rectified immediately.
Iqbal added that a four-member committee was constituted to look into the complaints of the business community. After the committee’s mandate is determined it would start its work soon.
However, he made it clear that NAB is an independent institution and would continue with its work.
“We are being watched by some as an institution that is solely responsible for the current economic crisis in the country. We have our limitations and try to work within it. Positive criticism is always welcome but targeting without any reason merits a reply. We are working against corruption and those who get involved in scams,” he said.
“Some of the traders’ opinions regarding NAB are unreasonable and I refute some of the business community’s concerns about the bureau,” he asserted.
“Instead we are trying to provide the business community a better environment to work in, where they won’t have to worry about giving kickbacks or ransom to anyone official for their projects,” he also said.
Last week after the meeting between the business community and the Army Chief, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) issued a statement saying the army chief had told a group of businessmen that the country’s “improved internal security environment” had “created space for increased economic activity”.