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October 12, 2018

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Special Assistant to PM’s clarification

Special Assistant to PM’s clarification

ISLAMABAD: The Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability, Shehzad Akbar, in response to The News story comprising his interview titled “Govt admits NAB officials face mindset problem” published on October 11, 2018, has sent following note:

“The headline ‘Govt admits NAB officials face mindset problem’ is misleading and not representing what I have discussed. Gist of my discussion was that NAB does need infra structural and capacity building support, which the government is willing and keen to provide. The existing capacity for investigations and prosecution need improvement, especially when the previous governments on purpose weakened NAB by reducing their budget and financial support. This improvement is also required with expanding work of NAB as so many new cases and investigations are unearthing involving billions of corruption and loss to exchequer.

To the specific question about NAB calling people for investigation and inquiry and making them sit for long hours in waiting, and if this is something that requires amendment to existing laws; I responded by saying that this is an issue with persons/individuals or mindset of some and not the organisation or issue with the law. I firmly believe that for real accountability, laws need toempower investigating agencies with stronger powers of calling for information, search and seizure as it exist in the current laws. I also mentioned that for amendment or improvement on NAB laws, the Cabinet has already formed a committee under the chairmanship of law minister and NAB is part of this committee, wherein NAB has also been asked for recommendations, and it is a consultative process.

I would also like to add that since the appointment of new NAB Chairman, Justice (R) Javed Iqbal, a clear change can be seen in NAB and its working from its previous leadership performance which was reprimanded by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Panama case. And for this reason, new government is supportive of NAB and working on providing NAB with required infra-structure and financial assistance.”

Ahmad Noorani Adds: The interview of Shehzad Akbar was reported word by word without adding or deducting any single word said by him. The interview was also reported in the same sequence as the things were discussed.

During a telephonic conversation on Monday after publication of the story, the SAPM on accountability told this scribe that the body of the story is OK, but the headline is misleading. When asked that the headline words are also written in the text of the story and headline is always the most important thing in the text.

He said that the headline gives a message without a context and that he was facing an embarrassing situation after publication of the story. The SAPM never said anything about any case of present chairman otherwise same would also have been made part of the story.

Shehzad Akbar hasn’t denied any contents of his talk with The News but insists that headline is out of context. Though, the context is given in the body of the story. The News stands by its story.

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