Unjust to the innocent | Pakistan Today

Unjust to the innocent

  • Character assassins and whistleblowers inside NAB

While a premier anti-graft body like National Accountability Bureau is compelled to constantly upgrade and enhance the technical knowledge, professional skills and performance of its employees at every level to combat the wiles of the corrupt, the human aspect of their job is sometimes glossed over by over-enthusiastic officials seeking swift but not lawfully proper convictions. Some Investigation Officers have often crossed a red line by sensationally leaking the name of a public figure whose inquiry is still in initial stages, to the eager media. By this inhumane stratagem, the person concerned is unfortunately condemned as guilty at the outset, and though he may be exonerated later on, his reputation and image are soiled forever by the ‘tabloid- minded’ section of the print and electronic media. NAB was also in the cross-hairs of the parliamentary Public Affairs Committee in April 2018, for ‘media trial’ of politicians by unofficially releasing sensitive information and case documents, thereby condemning them before formal trial: a case of guilty even if found innocent. It was admitted by NAB chairman that 220 of its ‘black sheep’ had been arrested, 400 were under investigation, while daily 100 complaints were received against its officials from the general public.

On Monday, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, in effect conveyed that enough was enough, the infamous practice of leakage of private proceedings, of suspects hearing or reading about their NAB summons in the media, must end forthwith, that NAB had no right to slander and defame innocent people, and that strict action should be taken against the guilty Investigation Officers. The issue also had a crucial external repercussion, that of discouraging and driving away foreign investors, and though the NAB prosecutor general assured the court of strict ongoing internal accountability to rectify the problem, the chief Justice still summoned the chairman in his chamber on Monday next. Clearly the conversation will not be about the weather and antique coins, and certainly there is going to be no ‘plea-bargaining’ on the mean custom of leaking privileged information by a callous few, and so NAB ‘physician heal thyself, then wilt thou also heal thy patient’…