Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar on Monday shared with journalists copies of judgements against Pakistan in the Broadsheet case, saying this was being done on orders of Prime Minister Imran Khan and was in line with the premier’s belief that “accountability can’t take place without transparency”.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Akbar said the government was making all relevant documents, judgements and awards in the Broadsheet case available in the public domain in line with its consistent and principled stance that transparency is paramount for the process of accountability.
“We represent the nation and came on this mandate [of accountability] so it is the prime minister’s stance that for transparency, everything which should be in public access, the government should do it [and make it available].”
He said two judgements were being made public, the judgement for the liability award in 2016 and the judgement for the quantum award in 2018. The first confirmed the government of Pakistan was liable to pay Broadsheet and the second determined the actual amount of the liability to be paid, according to Akbar.
He said on the prime minister’s instructions, the government had contacted Broadsheet’s lawyers to gain their written consent on making these documents public, adding that they had “no reservations” over the move.
‘Cost of NRO and deals’
Akbar elaborated on the details of the quantum award, explaining why the government had to pay $21.5 million to Broadsheet.
The PM’s adviser said that amount represented the “cost of past NROs [National Reconciliation Ordinance] and deals you [the people of Pakistan] have had to bear”.
He said out of the $21.5m paid to broadsheet, $20.5m was paid because of the Sharif family – of this $1.5m was paid against the Avenfield apartments and $19m against assets of Nawaz Sharif.
Akbar further said the quantum order mentioned details regarding PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif, such as that he paid $7.3m to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and elsewhere, he took kickbacks of $160m in highway taxes.
Broadsheet LLC, a UK company that was registered in the Isle of Man in the Pervez Musharraf era, helped the then government and the newly established NAB track down foreign assets purchased by Pakistanis through alleged ill-gotten wealth.
Broadsheet claimed that it was established to enter into an Asset Recovery Agreement dated June 20, 2000, and did so with the then president of Pakistan, through the NAB chairman, for the purposes of recovering funds and other assets fraudulently taken from the state and other institutions, including through corrupt practices, and held outside of Pakistan.
Broadsheet maintains that it was created to be a company specialising in the recovery of assets and funds, and was therefore engaged to trace, locate and transfer such items back to the state.
After NAB terminated the contact in 2003, Broadsheet and another company involved as a third party filed for damages, saying Pakistan owed them money according to the terms agreed upon since the government was taking action to confiscate some of the assets they had identified, including the Avenfield property owned by the Sharif family.
The companies’ claims against Pakistan were held valid by an arbitration court and later by a United Kingdom high court that gave an award of over $28 million against Pakistan last year.