The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of parliament on Tuesday summoned ex-chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar for an explanation on the Diamer-Bhasha Dam Fund that was set up during his tenure.

The parliamentary body also issued an arrest warrant for former principal secretary Azam Khan for his absence from the meeting over the Malam Jabba and Billion Tree Tsunami cases. It ordered the interior ministry and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) not to allow Azam to leave the country from any airport.

The PAC session, presided over by Noor Alam Khan, also summoned the Supreme Court registrar to provide details of the fund.

The fund was set up by then CJP Nisar in July 2018 to collect money for the Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams, and the website of the Supreme Court had specifically solicited donations for the construction of these reservoirs.

Later, then prime minister Imran Khan had also thrown weight behind Justice Nisar’s call for donations.

He had urged overseas Pakistanis to contribute to the effort to raise funds via voluntary donations.

PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal had maintained in 2019 that it was his party, which revitalised the dead projects of Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams.

He had claimed that the fund had reached Rs10 billion in collections by March 2019 while a sum of Rs13 billion was spent on its advertisements.

During the PAC huddle, the body’s member and PML-N MNA, Barjees Tahir, maintained that a sum of Rs14 billion was spent on advertisements for the fund against a collection of Rs9 billion.

He called for an explanation on why the funds were not spent on the construction of the dams.

The committee chairman described Nisar as a “controversial” figure and said he too was answerable in the dam fund case.

Noor also asked NAB Chairman Aftab Sultan why the Malam Jabba case was closed.

The NAB chief replied that it was closed during the tenure of former head of the anti-graft body Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal.

Claiming that Iqbal was “blackmailed”, the PAC chief ordered reviewing of all the cases closed by the former NAB chief.

Briefing the committee on the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), the NAB chief said a loss of Rs32.86 billion was shown as a profit of Rs26 billion.

He added that the cost of the project was Rs49 billion and it increased to Rs69 billion. “Irregularities have been found during the award of contracts for the construction of Peshawar BRT,” he maintained.

He said the Peshawar High Court had also ordered an investigation into the case. While the NAB investigation was under way, the Supreme Court issued an injunction, he added.

The NAB chief said ex-PM Imran had spent Rs70 million on using the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government’s helicopter.

Sultan told the PAC that NAB was taking steps for the recovery of this amount.

The PAC chairman said the recovery should not be from the K-P government but from those using the helicopter.

He told the NAB chief to approach the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for this purpose.

The Broadsheet case also came under discussion during the PAC meeting.

The NAB chairman told the panel that the Broadsheet case was registered in 2010 involving an amount of $3.7 million.

He added that in April 2021, the case was referred to the FIA.

The FIA officials present at the meeting told the committee that NAB had refused to appear before the agency, saying the investigation of the case was not within its jurisdiction.

They added that progress in the case stopped after that.

The PAC sought a report from the FIA within a month on the case.

Pakistan made a payment of $28.706 million to Broadsheet LLC after losing litigation in the London High Court.

The amount was transferred from the Pakistan High Commission on behalf of NAB to the assets recovery firm — 21 years after it was hired to trace the alleged foreign assets of dozens of Pakistanis which it failed to find.

Earlier, the PAC chief said asset declaration details of NAB officers had been sought.

Sultan replied that NAB rules were being amended. The assets of the anti-graft body’s officers would also be declared under the new rules, he added.

Noor pointed out that all officers submitted their asset declarations to the Establishment Division.

The NAB chief said the same method was under way on asset declaration. He added that assets were opened only on an inquiry or court order.

This resulted in a heated exchange of words between Noor and Sultan.

The new NAB chief also refused to reveal the assets of his department’s officers.

The committee chairman inquired if you will give the documents or not.

To this the NAB chairman asked him which documents he wanted.

Noor expressed his indignation and summoned the cabinet, Establishment Division, law secretary and Islamabad IGP to the PAC immediately.

Later, the NAB chief said the details of the reports the officers of the anti-graft body gave to the Federal Board of

Revenue (FBR) would be submitted to the PAC as well after which the matter was dismissed.