NAB’s reopening of cases against Sharifs
The sudden change of mind on the part of Chairman NAB leading to the opening of cases against the Sharifs only months before the elections is bound to raise questions. More so in the presence of several conspiracy theories centering around the idea of a well planned upsetting of the system. The chairman had earlier announced that he was keeping the cases pending till after the elections. This was generally welcomed in political circles with the prominent exception of the PTI chief. It would be interesting to find how the special committee constituted by Admiral (rtd) Bukhari managed to convince him to take a 180 degree turn within less than a week. The Hudaibiya Paper Mills case, Assets Beyond Known Sources of Income case and the Willful Loan Default case belong to 1990’s. During the last four years, the PPP leadership had turned a blind eye to these cases despite several provocations by the PML(N), including the dragging of PPP leaders to the courts. This indicated that either there wasn’t enough solid stuff in the cases or the government was looking the other way in line with the spirit of the CoD. To revive the cases all of a sudden comes as a surprise.
The federal government is struggling hard to complete the last few months of its tenure. With one prime minister removed and the other likely to follow suit, the PPP can ill afford to open yet another front. It is surprising that the move comes at a time when the PPP and PML(N) are busy negotiating the arrangements required to hold fair and free elections. The agreement on the CEC was a big success. That even Imran Khan expressed satisfaction over the nomination of Justice (rtd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim indicates that politicians still have the capacity to resolve knotty issues if they are determined to do so. It was hoped that the two parties would now take up the question of a neutral caretaker set up which is an equally challenging issue.
A continuous confrontation between the executive and the Supreme Court does not suit the system. Things are likely to improve if a firm date for the elections is announced through consensus between the government and opposition. While the offstage players continue to be a decisive force, the democratic institutions have already started nibbling at their power. For the first time, parliamentary committees which are still in their infancy were trying to assert themselves though with little success. It was understood that an orderly transfer of power would bring into existence a more confident and hopefully more powerful civilian government. Does the prospect disturb the power brokers?