ISLAMABAD: Photographing Geo/Jang Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in the lockup of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and provision of this picture to a TV channel for its airing amply reflects the vengeance of the anti-graft watchdog against the detainee and his media house.
This was done on the very first day of his arrest. NAB had done the same in the case of bureaucrat Ahad Cheema. Similarly, a picture of Hussain Nawaz, while he was waiting for questioning by the Panama Joint Investigation Team (JIT), was also released to the media.
The premises of the Lahore NAB and the venue where the JIT held its proceedings are rated as high-security areas where no unauthorised person can enter. A host of questions arise over the deliberate leak of the instant picture. Who photographed Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in the NAB cell? Was it NAB itself or ARY TV channel, which first showed it on its scree? There was none except the two or either of them. What was its purpose? If it was the channel photographer, why was he permitted?
Under the law, nobody is allowed even to go near the NAB lockup. It is NAB itself, which photographed Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman or illegally permitted some photographers to take the picture.
When the photos of Ahad Cheema and Hussain Nawaz had publicly surfaced, authorities had faced intense condemnation for committing the illegality. Same is the case now. Such tactics had been employed to make an attempt to humiliate the incarcerated persons in the public eye to satisfy sadistic pleasure.
How revengeful the perpetrators of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman are can be well noticed from the release of his picture and that too to a channel, which is constantly engaged in his character-assassination and that lost when its previous charges against him were challenged in a British court.
The primary objective behind this contemptible Machiavellian tactic is to break Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman into abandoning independent policies in his media house and toeing the dictated line.
Likewise, the purpose of degrading Hussain Nawaz was to force the Sharif family to give up its aggressive political approach and fall in line. Ahmad Cheema, still in jail, was forced to become approver against Shahbaz Sharif but in vain.
Commenting on Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s leaked picture, prominent journalist Murtaza Solangi tweeted that this may satisfy sadistic fetish of some mentally sick person somewhere, but it would most definitely embolden the resolve of all those resisting the fascist thuggery of the #selected regime. Then, he added an Urdu couplet. Its near translation is that before you, a person who was sitting on the throne has as much conviction to be God as you have.
Another journalist Saqib Bashir tweeted: What does the NAB want to achieve by releasing the picture (of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman)? [The photograph in the lockup was also posted] When the NAB has to give arguments in court, it has nothing to offer; every time court says NAB does character-assassination of people by arresting them. But NAB doesn’t budge even an inch from its attitude. Imran Khan, before coming to power, had declared multiple times to severely punish Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. When Bashir Memon resigned as the director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in protest in December last, he was taunted by the premier in a meeting for not cooperating with his government and lauded NAB for swift action a day after the arrest of Shahbaz Sharif by the anti-corruption agency.
“You see, I have made one call to him [NAB chairman], and he arrested Shahbaz Sharif the following day,” the prime minister was said to have remarked to Memon. In another similar meeting a few days later, Memon was told that NAB has started even arresting opposition politicians who are being named “next target” in talk shows by the government spokesperson. “This is called loyalty; opposition politicians are barking dogs. All of them must be in jail,” he was told.
Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is a clear violation of the very law governing the anti-corruption watchdog.Section 24(a) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999 says the NAB chairman shall have the power, at any stage of the inquiry or investigation under this law, to direct that the accused, if not already arrested, shall be arrested.
When the NAO was promulgated 21 years back by the Pervez Musharraf government, the arrest of accused was allowed only during investigation of an offence, and such detention during “inquiry” was added later. However, still the arrest by the NAB during the complaint verification was not provided.
Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was taken into custody during the stage of verification of the complaint filed against him. The incarceration thus turned out to be unprecedented apart from being unlawful under the NAO.
The complaint verification is the first stage of seizing with a case by the NAB. Arrests are not made at such a point. Only politicians whom the government comprehensively detest and wants to see them in jail can be detained at this stage. If the anti-corruption outfit finds some meat during verification process, a complaint is converted into an inquiry, which is followed by investigation. Only then, arrest is made.
After going through these stages after finding some plausible evidence against the accused, the reference is filed in an accountability court.
In the present case, it was inconceivable that the NAB was able to complete its job during just two meetings with the accused, concluding that the accused be imprisoned. However, as the NAB did it, it became clear that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was to be put behind bars in any case regardless of the case against him and the stages of the process.
Both the call up notices issued to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman by the NAB had the “Subject: Complaint verification is under this Bureau”. It showed that it was still at the stage of verification of the complaint that has not been converted into inquiry or investigation.
The first NAB notice dated 28th February said: “You are required to appear in person along with complete record/documents to record your plea pertaining to illegal exemption of 54x plots in Bloack H, Johar Town Phase-II, (Lahore) granted/allotted to you in the year 1986 being the holder of the General Power of Attorney on behalf of Hidayat Ali and Hikmat Ali, by the then chief minister, Punjab, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, in violation of the relevant laws/rules, before Ms. Nirmal Hasni, Deputy Director, Complaint Verification Cell, NAB Complex, Thokar Niaz Baig Lahore on 05th March at 10:00am, positively, without fail.”
The second call up notice was issued on 10th March, containing the similar wordings, giving just two days’ time to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman to appear before the NAB on March 12, the day on he was arrested.
Ironically, the public officeholder (Nawaz Sharif), who allegedly “favoured” Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman by giving “illegal exemption” to the accused has never been asked questions.