On Monday, Prime Minister’s Advisor on Home Affairs and Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar shared copies of judgments against Pakistan in the Broadsheet case with journalists, mentioning that this was done on orders from Prime Minister Imran Khan and was in line with the Prime Minister’s view that “accountability can’t take place without transparency”
Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad, Akbar said the government was making available in the public domain all related records, decisions and awards in the Broadsheet event, in line with its clear and principled stand that transparency is paramount to the accountability process.
“We represent the nation and came on this mandate [of accountability] so it is the prime minister’s stance that for transparency, everything which should be in public access, the government should do it [and make it available].”
He said two rulings, the judgement for the responsibility award in 2016 and the judgement for the quantum award in 2018, were made public. According to Akbar, the first confirmed that the Pakistani government was liable to pay Broadsheet and the second calculated the exact value of the debt to be paid.
He said the government had approached Broadsheet’s lawyers on the orders of the prime minister to secure their written permission to make these documents public, adding that they had “no reservations” about the change.
‘Cost of NRO and deals’
Akbar expanded on the quantum award specifics, explaining why the government had to pay Broadsheet $21.5 million.
“cost of past NROs [National Reconciliation Ordinance] and deals you [the people of Pakistan] have had to bear”cost of previous NGOs [National Reconciliation Ordinance] and deals you [Pakistani people] had to bear.
He said $20.5 million was paid out of the $21.5 million paid to broadsheet owing to the Sharif family, of which $1.5 million was paid against the Avenfield apartments and $19 million against Nawaz Sharif’s estate.
Akbar further reported that the quantum order listed information about PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, such as that he paid the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) $7.3 million, and he took $160 million in highway tax kickbacks elsewhere.
Broadsheet LLC, a UK firm incorporated in the Pervez Musharraf period on the Isle of Man, helped track down foreign assets bought by Pakistanis through suspected ill-gotten wealth by the then government and the newly formed NAB.
Broadsheet reported that it was set up to enter into an Asset Recovery Arrangement dated 20 June 2000, and did so through the chairman of the NAB with the then President of Pakistan for the purpose of retrieving funds and other properties fraudulently withdrawn from the state and other agencies, including through corrupt practises, and kept outside Pakistan.
Broadsheet maintains that it was founded as a business specialised in the retrieval of properties and funds, and was thus dedicated to monitoring, identifying and restoring those objects to the state.
Broadsheet and a third company involved sued for damages after NAB had fined its contract in 2003, arguing that Pakistan would owe them the money according to the conditions accepted, as the government was taking measures to confiscate some of the properties, which would include sherif family land.
The arguments of the firms against Pakistan were found true by an arbitration court and later by a high court in the United Kingdom, which paid more than $28 million in prizes