Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Aftab Sultan refuses to ‘toe the line', resigns as NAB chairman

Former director-general of Intelligence Bureau and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman Aftab Sultan. — Twitter/File
Former director-general of Intelligence Bureau and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman Aftab Sultan. — Twitter/File

  • PMO confirms Sultan resigned citing personal reasons.
  • "My resignation has been accepted and it comes to an end on a positive note."
  • Fawad says resignation big step towards collapse of fascist system.

ISLAMABAD: Aftab Sultan has tendered his resignation as National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman, Geo News reported on Tuesday after reportedly refusing to "toe the line". 

He was appointed as head of the anti-graft body on July 21, 2022, for three years by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government after Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal’s tenure ended last year.

A statement by the Prime Minister's Office confirmed that Sultan had presented his resignation to PM Shehbaz citing personal reasons.

"The prime minister appreciated the services of Aftab Sultan and lauded his honesty and uprightness. Upon his insistence, the prime minister reluctantly accepted the resignation of Sultan," the PM Office said. 

Speaking to Geo News, Sultan said that he had resigned from the office a few days ago. “I was asked to do certain things which were not acceptable to me.”

"I told them that I cannot continue with the conditions. My resignation has been accepted and it comes to an end on a positive note," he said. "Prime minister expressed good wishes for me, I also have good wishes for him."

The sources revealed that Sultan had refused to make arrests of politicians on someone's orders.

“He was pressurised by the government and some other institutions in the last four months to register cases against the people of their choice and arrest them,” they further said.

Sultan, according to the source, had also withdrawn the arrest powers from NAB director-generals (DGs) to avoid misuse of authority by the officials. 

Sultan address NAB officers for last time

Later, while speaking during a farewell ceremony at the anti-graft watchdog's headquarters, Sultan said he was extremely happy and satisfied that he was able to uphold his principles and not bow down to any pressure

"Throughout my life and professional career I tried to act according to law and never compromised on my principles," said Sultan. He added that the Constitution provides solutions to all the country's problems. 

"Not following the constitution has resulted in the political and economic mess we find ourselves in today. Continuity of political process and elections is essential," said the former NAB chief. 

Sultan said he cannot initiate a false case against anyone nor can he drop an established reference against someone merely on the grounds that the culprit is a relative of some big shot

The outgoing NAB chief said that he had complete faith in the young officers of the anti-corruption watchdog to uphold the principles of high moral values and the rule of law.

PTI welcomes development

Reacting to the development that has “dented” the transparency of the current collation government, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Fawad Chaudhry said that the resignation of the NAB chairman is a big step towards the collapse of the fascist system.

“Aftab Sultan resigned against the ‘interference’ in his work,” the former federal minister said, adding those 22 officers who were appointed in Punjab for the same purpose should also step aside.

“It is in the interest of both the country and the bureaucracy.”

Aftab Sultan's profile

Considered an upright officer by his peers and colleagues, Sultan also served as Punjab Police IG and was later appointed as director general of the Intelligence Bureau (IB). He was holding the same post when the PTI staged the 2014 sit-in in Islamabad.

He had also served as director general of the IB during the tenure of then-prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

A NAB reference was also approved against him and he remained a co-accused with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif over alleged irregularity in the purchase of vehicles in the name of a Saarc conference.

However, NAB did not file the reference. 

Former foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry was also a co-accused and they were facing charges of causing a loss of Rs1.95 billion to the national exchequer.