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ISLAMABAD: Zahir Shah has been appointed acting chairman of the anti-corruption agency, who currently holds the position of deputy chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Shah will serve as the head of the NAB until the next chairman is appointed, according to a notification from the body released Friday.
“in pursuance of the proviso to Section 6 (b) (v) of amended NAO 1999, Mr. Zahir Shah, shall act as Chairman, National Accountability Bureau, with effect from 22-02-2023 and till the appointment of new chairman, under the ordinance,” said the notification issued by the Syed Izhar Shah, an Additional Director of NAB.
Zahir Shah, who has been working as the NAB deputy chairman, is already looking after the anti-corruption agency since Aftab Sultan tendered his resignation from his office as the bureau's chairman. Shah is with the NAB since more than a decade and had already served in the organisation in different capacities including the prized post of director-general of NAB Rawalpindi.
In October 2021, Shah was appointed deputy chairman of the NAB who oversees the organisation's administration.
Sources said that the NAB chairman is a constitutional position. The prime minister makes an appointment for the position after consulting the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. When a chairman is absent, the deputy chairman acts as an acting chairman, though he does not have the powers of a constitutionally appointed chairman. Only a chairman appointed under the Constitution can approve the filing of any reference in the courts etc.
The previous chairman, Sultan, resigned less than a year after his appointment as he had refused to "toe" the incumbent government's "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.
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."
Sources, following the development, informed Geo News 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 sources, had also withdrawn the arrest powers from NAB director-generals to avoid misuse of authority by the officials.
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.
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