Missing ‘Sherlock Holmes’ surfaces


Shafaqna Pakistan:The government’s Sherlock Holmes arrister Shahzad Akbar – who has been conspicuous by his absence from his high-profile media interactions for the past two months, is back at least on social networking website, Twitter.

On Thursday, he wrote three posts on his personal Twitter handle in a bid to quash the impression that he is out of action or has stepped down after his absence was pointed out.

In his response, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar quoted a tweet of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Deputy Secretary General Ataullah Tarar, advocate, who also represents the Sharif family in court cases, and tagged leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif.

Last time, he used the networking site on Sept 28 when he had re-tweeted a post. After that he took to the Twitter on Thursday to show that he is functioning and has not quit. His tweets made it clear that he is abroad but they did not name the foreign country.

“Also let on this, where is my legal notice?” Shahzad Akbar wrote. In the second tweet, he said: You present yourself having LLB so act like having earned it. If I take your logic n someone hasn’t replied to your so called legal notice, next step is to go to court, as I am sure notice period has expired. What’s stopping you? More lies? Btw it’s substantial not substantiate”.

Tarar’s tweet said: I would like to enlighten Shahzad Akbar regarding legal notice served to Daily Mail by us. Despite serving legal notice and writing a subsequent letter, substantiate [sic] reply from Daily Mail is still awaited. May like to check facts before representing Daily Mail.

Tagging Tarar again, the special assistant commented on a tweet of Daily Mail correspondent David Rose, saying: Just to add, I am waiting too, you promised to drag me in streets of London like you use to say about your newfound friend Asif Zardari. It’s been months and not taking a defamation route simply confirms every bit of this story!

Rose tweet said: Hello Pakistani friends. A lot of you have been asking if Shahbaz Sharif has commenced a lawsuit against me and my newspaper yet.

Also, Shahzad Akbar tweeted an earlier story of July 29, based on his remarks: Shahbaz Sharif wouldn’t dare sue me: Shahzad This was in July this year and I was right, not even sent me a letter before action!

In another tweet, the special assistant expressed his displeasure over The News story headlined: ‘Where is govt’s Sherlock Holmes?’ Tauntingly, he wrote in Urdu: Outstanding journalism, what is the news in this front page story. Is it news not to attend his phone call? In my view, this news is an example of lack of editorial control. Submission for my detractors is I am returning home soon to torture them. Till that time, request is do hard work and find out, and don’t concoct, your stories.

However, the story written by Ansar Abbasi said that otherwise fond of addressing news conferences and attending TV talk shows quite frequently, the barrister has not held any presser for the last several weeks, and is rarely seen even in TV current affairs programmes.

It said the man leading the Assets Recovery Unit (ASU), which was created to bring back $200 billion stashed by Pakistanis in banks abroad, in the Prime Minister’s Secretariat is also not attending mobile calls. He does not respond to messages either. His staff when approached said that the barrister has gone outstation, and is busy in meetings.

According to the story, in his absence, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Shabbar Zaidi has stated more than once that it is hard to bring home, what he quoted, $190 billion illegally gotten money of Pakistanis stashed abroad. There is no explanation coming from the barrister side to justify the very existence of the ARU after the government has admitted that it can’t bring back Pakistanis’ billions of dollars from abroad.

Soon after coming into power, the present government established ARU to retrieve assets hidden overseas. The ARU comprises officials from the State Bank of Pakistan, FBR, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and intelligence agencies.

In one of his initial press conferences, Shahzad Akbar had said that the ARU members have already got details of over 10,000 properties in Dubai and England. He had complained that details of at least half of the 10,000 properties were previously available but no action was taken. But now the government is also found realising that it can’t bring money back from foreign countries.

Till a few months back, the barrister was also seen keenly digging out cases against the opposition leaders in close coordination with the NAB. He used to hold pressers quite frequently to talk about the alleged corruption of Sharif and Zardari families.

It is said that Shahzad Akbar held his last press conference in August and issued a complete charge sheet against Maryam Nawaz and her cousin Yousaf Abbas in alleged Chaudhry Sugar Mills (CSM) money laundering case. The very next day, the NAB arrested both.

He had alleged that the CSM had been the hub of money laundering for the Sharif family. He said that in the year 2008, the mills shares were transferred to Maryam Nawaz, who transferred Rs7 million to Yousaf Abbas Sharif in 2010. He added that an important document has been recovered from Nasir Lootha, who was shown to have shares in CSM.

As per the official claims, the ARU has so far recovered an amount of Rs530 million, which was illegally sent abroad. Only a few days back, the FBR chairman said that $6 billion was remitted out of Pakistan per annum in last 20 years out of which 85 percent was sent out legally so it could not be brought back. “The practice of sending out money abroad is still continuing as almost every wealthy Pakistani possessed assets and property abroad and a house in Dubai.”