On Monday, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) will hear a plea seeking contempt of court proceedings against the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for failing to prosecute former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf for suspected corruption during his presidency.
The case will be heard by a bench consisting of IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, according to the cause list released by the court’s registrar office.
On January 25, 2018, an IHC division bench ruled that the NAB could pursue retired generals on corruption charges.
The ruling resolved a 19-year gap in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) of 1999, which had prevented the anti-corruption watchdog from prosecuting retired army officers despite widespread allegations of misconduct.
Former military dictator should be tried for ‘corruption,’ according to the petitioner.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by retired Lt Col Inamur Rahim demanding an investigation by the National Accountability Bureau into accusations that Mr Musharraf stated assets beyond his known sources of income in his nomination papers.
Mr Rahim, who is also an advocate, filed a complaint with the NAB nine years ago, alleging that the retired general had stated assets above his known sources of income in his nomination papers. Mr Rahim was told in a 2013 letter that his complaint could not be heard due to a lack of jurisdiction because Mr Musharraf was immune from NAO proceedings as a member of the armed forces.
“The bureau is vested with the power and jurisdiction to consider the petitioner’s complaint, and if after such consideration it is of the opinion that an offence under the Ordinance of 1999 is prima facie made out, then it will become a duty of the latter to proceed to inquire, investigate, and take all other steps mandated under the Ordinance of 1999,” the court ruled in February 2018.
Mr Musharraf, as the country’s president and commander of the army staff, allegedly broke his oath of defending and protecting the country’s population, according to the petitioner.
Mr Rahim pointed out that on page 237 of Mr Musharraf’s book, In the Line of Fire, in the chapter titled ‘Man Hunt,’ the former military dictator admitted to giving over several people to the United States for financial gain.
Mr Musharraf “introduced corruption into the upper hierarchy of the military forces by allotting them plots over and above their entitlements,” according to the petitioner.
Mr Rahim claimed in the contempt case that Mr Musharraf illegally sold hundreds of acres of valuable land in several cantonments, in violation of the norms and regulations. In the Karachi cantonment alone, 2,125 acres were sold, the information of which had already been given to the National Accountability Bureau.
Mr Rahim also said that a list of properties worth billions of rupees allegedly grabbed by Mr Musharraf had been forwarded to NAB, and that those properties had never been disclosed by the retired general before because he had not filed his income tax returns or paid any tax during his tenure, according to a Federal Board of Revenue report issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan.
The petitioner pointed out that, according to the NAB’s regular operating protocols, the bureau could have concluded the inquiry in four months, followed by an investigation in another four months, and then a maximum extended term of one month by the NAB’s regional director general. As a result, the case must have been sufficiently developed to be presented to an accountability court within nine months.
He claimed that, in accordance with the court’s orders, NAB just sent the petitioner a call-up notice and made no more attempt.
The petitioner pointed out that a person who injected corruption in the senior hierarchy of the armed forces to gain their support, did political manoeuvring and engineering with the help of NAB laws, and misused his authority by making and breaking political alliances is still at large, citing recent statements by the NAB chairman that 1,194 accused people had been convicted by accountability courts.