Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan’s Adviser on Accountability and Interior Mirza Shahzad Akbar has told a reporter, who attempted to equate the decision to allow former premier Nawaz Sharif to travel abroad with an NRO [National Reconciliation Ordinance], to ask the “Agriculture Department” instead, implying the involvement of a secret agency.
NRO is a controversial ordinance issued by then president Pervez Musharraf in 2007 to grant amnesty to politicians facing corruption, money laundering and murder cases.
Akbar’s response, an open secret in power circles, came during a press conference held Saturday to announce that the federal government had approached the United Kingdom (UK) government for Nawaz’s extradition.
The government in November last year had allowed the former premier to travel abroad for medical treatment after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) suspended his sentence in Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference for eight weeks. He has been residing in London ever since.
“Ask the Agriculture Department,” Akbar said when asked about the former premier’s London departure.
Akbar, however, later clarified that his statement did not refer to any state institution, adding that he had referred to “adept” PML-N leadership that “fooled the entire nation into believing Nawaz’s forged medical reports”.
Independent observers claim the decision to allow Nawaz to leave the country was a result of a silent agreement reached between the establishment and the PML-N as the alleged deal had come on the heal of Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan’s vow to not give NRO to those facing corruption probes.
The term “agriculture department” for secret agencies was coined in 2018 when a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate for Punjab Assembly alleged that he was manhandled by the security personnel of a secret agency over his refusal to withdraw from the upcoming elections.
In a statement to media, Rana Iqbal Siraj had said the personnel raided his godown and threatened to destroy his business in case of non-compliance.
However, Siraj had later backtracked his statement, saying it was the officials of the agriculture department who raided his godown and not the security personnel.