THE PTI government has taken a welcome move in making public the Broadsheet-Pakistan/National Accountability Bureau arbitration judgement handed down in 2016. On public platforms, Kaveh Moussavi, the head of Broadsheet, an asset recovery firm, claimed that he gave the government of Pakistan permission to make the document public and that the judgement would explain uncertainty about the problem at hand.
In a press conference on Monday, Prime Minister’s Accountability Advisor Shahzad Akbar said that the government had obtained written permission from Mr. Moussavi to make the decision public and that Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed it to be shared without delay with the people of Pakistan. The advisor said the judgement clearly demonstrated the cost that Pakistan had to pay to those who had indulged in unethical practises for offering an NRO.
Sir Anthony Evans’ verdict spells out in great depth the folly committed by NAB and its attorneys after 2000. It simply illustrates how shoddy contracts and shady decision-making lead to a sad figure being cut in court by Pakistan. In addition to losing face, this incompetence related to political expediency has cost the Pakistani taxpayer $28 million.
According to the judgement, the arrangement signed by NAB with Broadsheet in 2000 contained a provision allowing Broadsheet to demand a commission of 20 pc on all NAB recoveries both outside Pakistan and at home, even cases in which Broadsheet may not have been interested. A former NAB chairman was cited at the hearing as saying that he thought the deal was just for work outside Pakistan for Broadsheet. Such was the stupidity degree.
As listed in the judgement, this pattern persisted and later it happened that Pakistan decided to settle with Broadsheet but ended up offering the wrong individual $1.5 m. The judgement notes that the blame was evidently that of NAB and its lawyers who were expected to know that the person to whom they were making the payment was not the legitimate receiver of the money.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has done well to appoint a committee to propose a course of action, including former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, on the conclusions of the judgement. It is important to recognise, prosecute and take to task those responsible for decisions and acts that have cost Pakistan dearly.
At the same time, this committee should also look at the revelations rendered by Mr. Moussavi after the verdict, including the claim that he had been asked for bribery by certain persons during the stint of this administration. In the Broadsheet cupboard, there are lots of skeletons and they must be carried out into the open. The government of the PTI must promise complete accountability in the matter so that no evidence can be obscured at the altar of political expediency.