A mini-revolt appears to be brewing in the National Accountability Bureau as some high-ranking officials on the government’s ‘hit-list’ have decided to resist Islamabad’s efforts to take control of the bureau so that cases against the ruling party leaders, including President Asif Ali Zardari, could be withdrawn, informed sources told Dawn on Wednesday.

About 35 officials of the bureau, some of whom are working on key posts and dealing with cases reopened after the scrapping of the NRO and President Zardari’s Swiss cases, are said to be in a difficult situation because 10 of them have received their transfer letters and the rest are likely to face the same fate.

But all 35 officials have decided to resist the move and not to leave their present offices. “They are ready to face consequences, but not to leave their present positions,” the sources said.

The decision to remove them from their present positions has been taken by the new management of NAB which is believed to be ‘loyal’ to rulers and is reportedly working on withdrawal of cases against the ruling party leaders.

Some of these top-ranking officials working on NAB’s important assignments but facing the wrath of the new management include NAB’s Director General in Punjab, Shahnawaz Badar, its chief in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Musaddiq Abbasi, Director General of (Administration Headquarters) Khursheed Alam, Director of Finance Shahzad Anwar Bhatti, Director of National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) Alia Rashid, Additional Director Zahir Shah, Brig (retd) Ashfaq Ashraf and Director (Administration) Shahzad Saleem.

Finance Director Shahzad Anwar Bhatti, a long-serving official of NAB, was demoted from the post of Director General of (Operations) last year when he refused to obey orders of the Presidency.

The sources said he was reportedly called to the presidency thrice and asked to help in withdrawal of cases against the president, but he refused and was demoted to the post of finance director.

Additional Director Zahir Shah is the custodian of the record of President Zardari’s Swiss cases. He had brought 12 boxes loaded with NAB record to the country from the United Kingdom after a strategy was formulated under which three keys of the locker that contained record of the Swiss cases were given to present acting chairman of NAB, Javed Qazi, Chief of Staff (COS) Brig (retd) Ashfaq Ashraf and Zahir Shah. The three were authorised to operate the locker together, but not alone.

Of the 35 officials, 10 have received transfer letters. They were served with transfer letters the day when NAB spokesman Ghazni Khan was removed for telling media that “NAB has solid evidence against President Asif Ali Zardari and the bureau is not seeking withdrawal of his cases”.

It has been learnt that following the resignation of its last chairman Nawid Ahsan, the bureau decided to withdraw cases against the ruling party leaders.

Dawn News