- Is the ongoing accountability even-handed and across-the-board?
Within a week of an accountability court sentencing former prime mnister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam and Safdar, the other major political family of the country has come under investigation for corruption. Former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, his two sisters as well as PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his two sisters are being probed for suspicious money transactions. In a mind-boggling display of efficiency, the FIA arrested a banker and stock exchange chief along with another banker while the SC has summoned the CEOs of three banks and others connected with the case. A media report, denied by interior ministry, tells of Zadari and sister Faryal’s names having been put on a previously unheard of “stop list” barring them from traveling abroad. Cutting short the tour of South Punjab, Bilawal rushed to Lahore to attend a PPP high level meeting convened to discuss, among other items, what was termed as political vendetta against the PPP
One would readily agree that politicians who lead the nation must be financially honest. The party in power wields immense authority including formulating the country’s economic policies. The nation would be the loser if the government lacks integrity. One cannot therefore object to the political elite being held accountable.
People will however lose faith in accountability if it is only specific to a group of people or parties. State institutions like judiciary and government departments like the army too have power which has acted in the past as a corrupting factor. There is a tendency among them to keep things under wraps by insisting on accountability only by their own institutions and departments.
As happened under Musharraf the NAB continues to ignore a section of corrupt politicians who have changed political affiliations. To have credibility, it must not allow itself to be turned into a machine to dry clean the corrupt who join the King’s party and target only the opposition. Again, no section of society should be immune from accountability which has to be conducted under rules, regulations and with punishments that have to be uniform and applicable to all. There is no concept of holy cows in democracy.