ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister’s Adviser on Accountability Shahzad Akbar Mirza tendered his resignation from his seat on Monday. Prime Minister Imran Khan also accepted his resignation.

Akbar, who was pursuing corruption cases against leaders of opposition parties, confirmed this development in a tweet on Monday and hoped that the process of accountability would continue under leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan as per PTI’s manifesto. He said he will remain associated with the party and keep contributing as member of legal fraternity.

Mirza Shahzad Akbar resigned from his position days after reports emerged that Prime Minister Imran Khan was not satisfied with him over his performance on PTI government’s accountability drive. 

The decision of Akbar to resign from his position drew criticism from the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) besides generating a heated debate on the social media that put serious questions on ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s campaign on accountability. 

Senior lawyer Azhar Siddique and former deputy chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Hussain Asghar are being considered one of the potential candidates for the slot vacated by Akbar, according to official sources within PTI.  

PTI insiders were of the view that the new advisor would come up with an iron hand to pursue all cases of corruption as PM Imran Khan wants concrete results of his accountability drive, one of the key election slogans of the ruling party. Siddique avoided the question when asked whether he was being considered for the slot. Last week, Asghar had told The Nation that he would work if the federal government assigned him any task but would remain apolitical. 

 

Earlier, Akbar took to the Twitter to say that he has tendered his resignation to PM as advisor and added that he would remain associated with the ruling party and keep contributing as member of legal fraternity. “I sincerely hope the process of accountability continues under leadership of PM Imran Khan as per PTI’s manifesto.” 

PM Khan had appointed Akbar, a former deputy prosecutor for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), as his special assistant on accountability and interior in August 2018. In July 2020, he was elevated to the position of advisor with the same portfolio. Besides this, he was also heading Assets Recovery Unity at Prime Minister’s Office that was formed in September 2018 with the approval of cabinet. The unit had been established to retrieve ill-gotten of Pakistanis stashed in foreign countries. 

Akbar has remained a close aide to the premier during over last three years and used to be part of many important meetings of the federal government chaired by PM Khan. He was spearheading PM Khan’s accountability drive and looking into all corruption cases being investigated by the NAB and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) with special focus on those cases that are under investigation or under -trial against PML-N leadership.  

The official government sources informed that Akbar was in serious crisis for the past few weeks as PM is not satisfied with the pace of investigations and trials of corruption cases. They quoted PM Khan as saying this that many of these matters were open and shut cases but there was no progress on them so far. Similarly, the premier had also tasked Akbar to bring former PM and PML-N supremo back in the country through legal means but the government now feels that chances of his return appeared dim. 

PM Imran Khan had seized power on the slogan of accountability in 2018 and since then, his government has opened many alleged corruption cases mostly against politicians of opposition parties. However, the conviction rate in these cases has remained low or near to zero. 

Reacting to the development, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry in a statement said that Akbar worked under tremendous pressure. “It was never easy to take on mafias but the way you worked and handled cases is admirable. More important work is now awaiting you,” he said. 

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill talking to Twitter said that Akbar has decided to give more time to his legal profession. Besides this, he will be participating in party activities of PTI, he added. 

Meanwhile, the opposition PML-N criticised Akbar for his role as advisor on accountability. “After messing up and wasting national resources, here comes the resignation,” the party leader Mohammad Zubair said 

“We always knew he will fail. Jumping the ship at the right moment, Shahzad Akbar has proven to be a smart person. There were no open and shut cases — that was all made up so that Imran Khan could get in power,” he claimed.