Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Shahzad Akbar was asked to resign for failing to deliver, it is learnt.
Shahzad tendered his resignation on Monday amid speculations that he was removed from the office by the prime minister.
However, insiders said he “failed to live up to the expectations of the prime minister who now increasingly views corruption cases against rivals, mainly Sharifs, as a centerpiece of his anti-corruption narrative.”
Contrary to the official account, insiders insist that Shahzad was in fact “sacked” after earning disappointment from none other than PM Imran who was unhappy with his inability to deliver on his “lofty claims”.
Meanwhile, the prime minister, while accepting the resignation, avoided talking about the situation but briefly said that “Shahzad Akbar was unable to deliver and his job was to do something else”.
Among other reasons, they said, the UK National Crime Agency’s (NCA) decision to unfreeze accounts of Shehbaz Sharif and his son was viewed as a major blow to the government’s corruption narrative against him.
They cited “zero recoveries” by the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) since its inception as another factor that led to him being sacked, adding that he “mislead” PM Imran during his briefings regarding accountability cases.
Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s case was cited as another reason for undoing of Shahzad.
The rumours about his possible departure had been brewing up and making rounds for the past few days but they were tamped down by none other than the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill.
But following Shahzad’s resignation, Gill struggled to defend his earlier stance, saying he was bound to follow the official line while clarifying that his personal views could be different from what he was asked to say.
Surprisingly, his tweet raised several eyebrows as it implied that the official line could be different from reality.
Insiders claimed that PM Imran was not satisfied with his performance but the officials kept denying it, saying the premier has lauded his services till the last day as he helped the government in exposing mafias.
“PM Sahib has lauded Akbar’s performance today; he did tremendous work; exposed mafias; and traced benami accounts and thousands of transactions made through them,” SAPM Ali Nawaz Awan said. “He has ended at a good note”.
Awan said that Akbar would be focusing more on his career as a lawyer while conjecturing that financial aspects of a government official and other professionals were polls apart.
In a video clip on social media, Gill also suggested that some people “burn out” while further attributing to PM Imran that he has always been saying that the process of accountability should be swift and the government wished to change the judicial system.
FAWAD CHAUDHRY: Asked whether the accountability narrative ended with Akbar’s resignation, the information minister Chaudhry Fawad said that the administrative side of corruption cases has been completed and now the cases were before the courts, suggesting that Akbar’s departure won’t affect to that extent.
“Shahzad Akbar Sahib has done wonderful work; he has exposed people under difficult circumstances, and he would continue to work as a member of the core committee,” Fawad said.
When asked if Akbar was sacked, Fawad said: “Shahzad Akbar has resigned and it was being heard for some time now that he wanted to resign.”
Fawad said that names were being considered and he would share details when the prime minister finalises a name.
Against the backdrops of murmurs of a possible deal, political observers said that PM feels threatened that PTI’s narrative of accountability was falling of its own weight and has since directed his teammates to tell people about the Sharif family’s cases.
Political pundits believe that Nawaz Sharif is already disqualified but his younger brother is seen as a real threat in the next elections considering that the younger Sharif is also seen to be acceptable for the powers that be.
Following the exit of Shahzad, names of the next candidate are already being considered but the task of ensuring immediate conclusions in the cases against Sharifs and Zardaris would loom over the requirements of the job.
To win public support back, the government’s spokesperson even urged the country’s chief justices on Monday to hear their cases on daily basis, telecast them live and let people judge.