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Editorial: Mushtaq Raisani’s Plea Bargain

The Executive Board of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in a disclosure move on Wednesday accepted the plea bargain request of more than Rs2 billion of Balochistan Finance Secretary Mushtaq Ahmad Raisani and Sohail Majeed Shah, the contractor and front man of Mir Khalid Khan Langov, ex-adviser to CM Balochistan for Finance. In line with a press release issued by NAB on Wednesday, the former civil servants, will return an amount of over Rs2 billion to NAB as part of the plea bargain. On May 06, 2016, NAB recovered more than Rs730 million from residence of Mushtaq Raisani in Quetta. Raisani has also surrendered two luxury cars including a Mercedes Benz and a Toyota Grande both of which are worth nearly Rs8m.

According to a senior NAB official that Raisani was accused of embezzling billions of rupees from local government development funds. After the arrest of Mushtaq Ahmad Raisani and the recovery of embezzled amount, the provincial finance adviser Mir Khalid Khan Langov also immediately offered his resignation from the post. The Supreme Court on Oct 24 restrained NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry from approving deals for voluntary return, a provision under the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999, that allowed people found guilty of corruption to pay a certain portion of the embezzled money and be released without any stigma. The option of accepting a plea bargain, however, remains on the cards.

Addressing a press conference, Director Operations NAB Zahir Shah said that the former finance secretary Balochistan Mushtaq Raisani surrendered two properties in Karachi’s Defense area, along with two cars and over Rs. 653.2 million, adding that 11 properties were already seized by NAB which are in DHA, valued at a purchase price of Rs1.25bn. They include two commercial plazas, three houses of minimum 500 sq yards each and six residential plots.

At a press conference, Director General (DG) operations NAB Zahir Shah said the bureau will transfer the amount to its rightful owners after the plea bargain is materialized and NAB would not keep a penny from this nor does it ever kept the recovered amount. According to Zahir Shah any amount recovered by NAB is handed over to provincial governments via their chief secretaries.

Plea deal with Mushtaq Ahmad Raisani and Sohail Majeed Shah has left many questions unanswered. Pleas bargain is not penalty for the wrongdoers but promoting the trend of corruption. It is too clear this has not been done by single-hand and it does not seem possible to get release of a huge amount of money without permission of Chief Minister, Advisor to the CM on Finance and the Chief Secretary. Bargaining with Mushtaq Ahmad Raisani and Sohail Majeed Shah, means, is not only provision of safe side to the involved elements in case of corruption but also a clear message for those who intend to embezzle public funds in future.

The main responsibility of NAB is to bring corrupt elements to book; however, it has once again provided a way to the dishonest people to strengthen the menace of corruption. It seems that NAB has also ignored the issued restraining order for accepting plea bargain. Nevertheless, it is hoped that Supreme Court will take notice and seek explanation from the NAB. In addition government and all political parties should work to pressurize the NAB to amend law of plea bargain since the plea bargain will be a sort of protection for the dishonest elements.

The Balochistan Point

Published in The Balochistan Point on December 24, 2016

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