NAB official's death 'a dark mystery', says daily

Islamabad, Jan 24 (IANS) The death of a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) official investigating a case against Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf was a dark mystery, a daily said Thursday, describing the country's anti-corruption agency as a big tool to beat opponents.

The editorial in the News International titled "A dark mystery" said the death of Kamran Faisal is proving to be exceptionally unfortunate for the senior officers of the NAB - "who are at the moment being anything but accountable".

Faisal, an assistant director with the country's anti-corruption agency National Accountability Bureau (NAB), was in the team probing the Rental Power Plants (RPP) case in which the Supreme Court has ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Ashraf. He was found hanging Jan 18.

The daily said that the emergence of a number of text messages exchanged between Faisal and his friends and colleagues "provides strong circumstantial evidence that he was being harassed into making changes to the report he was to present to the court, by his superiors".

"These included NAB Chairman Fasih Bukhari and Director-General of HR at NAB Kausar Malik. It has now been officially admitted that Faisal was summoned to see both these men on the night he died, and that there was a two-hour meeting in which he came under pressure to change the content of the report that he had written," it added.

The editorial said: "It is clear that Faisal was sending text messages to friends and colleagues saying the DG of HR wanted him to '...backdate regarding change from case'. There is little possibility of misunderstanding what was being talked of."

Within hours of sending that message, Faisal was dead.

The daily went on to say that if it transpires that NAB was being "coerced - or merely asked - to dance to a political master in order to protect a powerful 'influential' then its entire raison-d'etre disappears".

It stressed that a body charged with holding accountable to public scrutiny the highest in the land has to be firewalled against political interference.

"But if it proves to be umbilically connected to the seats of power, and a willing tool complicit in the misdeeds of the high and mighty, then NAB is about as much use or value as a square wheel.

"A big tool to beat the opponents at best. There is much we still do not know about these murky matters..."

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