ISLAMABAD: From call up notice of NAB’s “Complaint Verification Cell” to the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, the Editor-in-Chief of the Jang/Geo Group, the entire handling of the case by the Bureau’s Lahore office was both unusual and fishy.
Following is the account of the events that raises serious questions about the conduct of the NAB:
1. On February 28, Binish Nauman, Deputy Director (Coord) of “Complaints Verification Cell”, NAB Lahore, issued a call up notice to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for his appearance before Ms Nirmal Hasni, Deputy Director, Complaint Verication Cell NAB, Lahore on March 5th at 10:00am. The subject of the notice read “Complaint Verification is under process with this Bureau”.
2. No questionnaire was attached with that call up notice.
3 On 5th March, as required, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman appeared at NAB office, Lahore and handed them (NAB officials) a two page signed explanation. But the NAB officials refused to receive it.
4. NAB officials asked him questions about the complaint the Bureau had received. Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman told the NAB officials it was a 34-year-old matter so give him a week to go through old record. He told them that he would come back with all answers backed by documentary evidence.
5. Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman asked them to provide him with written questionnaire but the NAB officials refused to give any question in writing.
6. Later on Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman requested them at least let him note down their questions. First, they refused this request as well but later they agreed to it when Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman while pointing towards the CCTV camera installed there told them that it was being recorded that he was asking for even verbal questions but the NAB officials were refusing.
7. It was then that NAB officials dictated 13 questions that he had noted down on a piece of paper. Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman told them that he would bring answers to these 13 questions on 12 March.
8. Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman spent a week to collect all documents, reviewed them, and then prepared a written answer to all those 13 questions along with supporting documents.
9. A night before his second appearance at NAB office, someone from Bureau, for the first time, left at his Lahore residence 26 questions. This was odd. He had prepared his answers to 13 NAB questions but the Bureau just a night before his appearance had dropped for him 26 questions. Bureau, which had refused to give him any questionnaire, now wanted from him to appear before the NAB next morning along with answers to 26 questions. There was no explanation given for this hurry at the complaint verification stage.
10. So on March 12, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman entered into the NAB Lahore office with answers to those 13 questions that NAB officials had themselves dictated to him. With his answers, the Jang Group’s Editor-in-Chief also took with him all the relevant documentary evidence.
11. Just 20 minutes after his entry into NAB Lahore office, ARY ran the news that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman had been arrested.
12. There is no explanation available as to when did the NAB officials examine Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s answers and when did Chairman NAB sign warrants for his arrest. Warrants are generally issued at an advanced stage of inquiry or investigation, which in Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s case had not yet even begun. Mir Shakil was also cooperating with the NAB at the complaint verification stage where in most cases the accused are not even called up.
13. It is obvious from the account of the events that NAB chairman had signed Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest warrants before even he had arrived at the NAB Lahore office. It shows that the NAB chairman had already decided to arrest Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman without giving him fair chance to prove his innocence. Under the law, the NAB has no power to arrest anyone unless warrants of arrest are directly signed by chairman NAB himself.
14. As per NAB policy, issued in October 2019, it has to first send a questionnaire and upon receipt of answers, if it is unsatisfied, it should issue another questionnaire, upon receipt of which, if it is still dissatisfied, it can then and only then call that person for direct questioning. It has not been done in Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s case.
15. NAB follows four stages in every case. These stages are i) Complaint Verification, ii) Inquiry, iii) Investigation, and iv) Filing of Reference. In the case of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, the NAB was in such a rush that it bulldozed its own procedures and arrested the Jang Group’s Editor-in-Chief at the very first stage of Complaint Verification and before even any inquiry.