Bilawal Bhutto renames NAB as “Bureau of Political Engineering”

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KARACHI: Lashing at National Accountability Bureau for what he called a very discriminate body, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Wednesday said the move by the National Accountability Bureau, — which he referred to as the “bureau of political engineering” — to arrest the speaker of the Sindh Assembly on “trumped-up charges” was highly condemnable.

“I object

[and]

I condemn [it] in the strongest possible words,” said Bilawal while addressing a press conference at the Sindh Assembly in Karachi. He said it was known that NAB’s allegation of assets beyond means can be placed on anyone and added that “there is no one law for every Pakistani”.

He said the allegation could be levelled in a manner similar to when a police officer plants drugs or alcohol on an innocent person and jails them. Bilawal said in the case of Durrani, he was taken into custody based on an allegation and there was no evidence of any corruption having been committed. He said if there had been evidence it would have been presented “but raiding his [Durrani’s] house after the arrest gives the message that there was no evidence”.

He said a raid could be carried out to find evidence, but also to falsify and plant it.”You’re giving a message like you did before,” the PPP chairman said, without explaining.

He said the PPP could not tolerate the way Durrani’s house was entered into following his arrest and added that it was against their human rights and religious beliefs.

Bilawal said the PPP and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had previously condemned the way the women in Durrani’s family had been allegedly misbehaved with.”I am sad to say that the chairman NAB has till today not taken any action against this very serious accusation, on this violation of human rights, on this violence against women … no action was taken. This silence gives us the message that the chairman NAB condones such actions,” the PPP chairman said.

He demanded that the NAB chairman conduct an investigation and hold his officers accountable otherwise “we [ourselves] will have to take action”. Bilawal said actions allegedly conducted by NAB do not take place in any democracy or society with a rule of law. “Once again let me emphasise that the NAB should not be used for political engineering,” the PPP chairman said.

He alleged that NAB was “founded” for the purpose of political engineering and termed the legislation which governs the bureau’s functioning as a “black law”. Bilawal said this was why his mother, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, had said in the Charter of Democracy (CoD) that NAB needed to be done away with. However, he conceded that it was partly his party’s failure that it did not bring any reform to NAB while it was in power.

He remarked that NAB was such an institution that even if “an angel was made its chairman”, only political engineering would take place there. The PPP chairman alleged that the ‘benami’ or fake bank accounts case was also a form of political engineering and questioned the rationale behind the Supreme Court taking suo motu notice of such a case during the elections last year.

He recalled that the suo motu was taken due to violation of human rights because of slackness in the investigation, but added that in his perspective the case did not fall into the domain of suo motu or the violation of human rights. “Even if it did, this case was not slack,” Bilawal claimed, adding that a First Information Report was registered in the case, a preliminary report was presented and the case was ongoing in the banking courts.

“How can you say it is slack?” he asked, and said that if this case from 2016 was seen to be not progressing, “then what about the cases regarding the murder of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the murder of Benazir Bhutto as well as the Asghar Khan case?”

He said alleged that the slackness in the investigation was all of a sudden turned into a human rights case, in what he claimed was a response to a press conference he held in Ghotki during the elections. “But you don’t see the worst rigging in the history, you don’t see the violation of human rights, the ending of freedom of press and freedom of speech,” he said, without naming his addressee. He alleged that the taking of a suo motu notice in the case sent the message that it is “all being done for political engineering”.