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Election 2018: NAB decides not to arrest election candidates till polling day

ISLAMABAD: Several election candidates have breathed a sigh of relief as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday decided to put off the arrests in graft probes after polling day of July 25.

A meeting of the executive board of the accountability watchdog, presided by NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal, decided to defer the arrests. However, those who have already been arrested will not be released.

“NAB has … no link with the election or politics” said a press release issued by the headquarters of the bureau after the meeting.

The corruption probe against former foreign minister Khawaja Asif, former minister of state Rana Afzal,  Rana Mashhood and former MNA Rai Mansab Ali will be put on hold till the elections to enable them to participate in the polls, the press release said. “Further investigations would be conducted after the election.”

The bureau has decided not to arrest the election candidates facing corruption cases as no new case was mature enough to require arrests said a senior NAB official.

Although the candidates that have been already arrested including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Qamarul Islam and Muttahida Qaumi Movement candidate Javed Hanif, would remain under custody.

If a court-ordered arrest of any accused, NAB would have to follow the orders, even before the polls, the official further stated.

The bureau, since the appointment of retired Justice Iqbal as NAB chairman in October 2017 has launched probes against many leaders of the PML-N and its allies. They include ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his son-in-law retired Capt Safdar, former chief minister of Punjab Shehbaz Sharif, former federal ministers Khawaja Saad Rafique, Ahsan Iqbal, Saira Afzal Tarar, Akram Durrani and Riaz Hussain Pirzada, former secretary to the Prime Minister Fawad Hassan Fawad and PML-N leader Ameer Muqam.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has stood up against the decision stating that how can the law allow such candidates who have a corruption case pending contest in the upcoming elections and asked what law permitted the anti-graft watchdog to avoid arrest of the accused.

In a statement, PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said the NAB decision to not arrest the accused was against the logic and the law of the land. “Anarchy prevails when the law comes under any political expediency,” he said.

He urged NAB authorities to reconsider their decision and not to allow such persons to contest the elections.

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