ISLAMABAD  -   Chairman National Accountability Bureau Justice (r) Javed Iqbal has said that politicising NAB for taking action against corrupt elements is not in the national interest and the Bureau would make extraneous efforts to exclude the country’s name from the grey list of Financial Action Task Force.

Addressing a news conference at the NAB headquarters yesterday, he said the anti-graft body will take all steps required in national interest without taking any external pressure.

The NAB chief said that a baseless propaganda is being made that business community is being harassed by the Bureau.

He said that the NAB cannot be blamed for country’s economic woes as over 59 percent people reposed confidence over NAB as per the Gallup survey. He said that two leading businessmen of the country Arif Habib and Mian Mansha in writing had appreciated NAB due to its performance.

He reiterated that the Bureau would do utmost to improve the country’s image which had been damaged badly by the money  launderers. He expressed the resolve that such elements would not be spared rather punished at every cost.

He said that NAB, which was apolitical organisation and working to eradicate corruption from the country, would take the cases of money laundering to their logical conclusion without bowing to any pressure.

The chairman said that Bureau strongly believed in respect of people and never disgraced any individual.

NAB is not intimidating the business community, he said, adding the Bureau never intervened into telegraphic transfers (TTs) of any businessman. He, however, explained that the Bureau had the right to ask any person having assets beyond the known sources of income especially from a public office holder.

Javed Iqbal said that NAB was a people-friendly institution and committed to protect the business community, for which it had set up special desks at all bureaus across the country within a period of 24 to 48 hours with a mandate to redress grievances of entrepreneurs.

He said that NAB had already been directed to immediately address complaints of the business community, however, no complaint had so far been received in this regard.

The chairman reiterated that the Bureau had never harassed any leading businessmen.

However, questions would have to be raised when a project worth Rs5000 is completed with Rs500,000. NAB could not keep silent if billions of rupees were deposited in the account of a ‘Faloodha Wala’ (icecream vendor), he added.

He said that NAB and corruption could not go together, adding that Pakistan was a poor country and indebted $100 billion, the debts would have to be paid by the people of the country.

Extraordinary foreign debts are a national crisis and people should make joint efforts to address the issue, he said, adding NAB always welcomed constructive criticism.

He said NAB had decided to avoid summoning businessmen. Only questionnaire would be sent to the suspects and on receiving unsatisfactory answer the suspects would be summoned.

Javed Iqbal said NAB had recovered and returned over Rs2.5 billion of small investors after recovering from the looters.

Admitting some lapses in NAB, he said efforts were being made to remove the flaws identified to improve its working.

About the allegations that NAB arrests suspects despite lack of evidence, he said Accountability Court had granted remand to NAB after evaluating incriminating evidences.

He said that NAB had concrete evidence against some suspects who already fled the country after smelling that the bureau had sufficient evidences against them.

Justice Javed said that NAB was strengthening its prosecution team, regretting that NAB prosecutors were getting insufficient fee as compared to those of the opponents who received fee in millions. NAB should not be blamed for delay in cases as only 25 judges were hearing 1,250 corruption references.

He said that NAB was being blamed that bureaucracy had stopped working due to the Bureau’s alleged harassment.

Justice Javed said he himself visited across the country to remove apprehensions of public servants in this regard.

He, however, said that NAB would have to question a bureaucrat if millions of rupees are recovered from his home.

He urged the government to avoid giving top positions to suspects who are already on the NAB radar.