- NAB’s impartiality, integrity, proficiency and legality are essential
The National Accountability Bureau, despite frequent allegations levelled at it by politicians, captains of industry, high-ranking bureaucrats, and spoilt brats of feudal lords, should be seen in a positive, or at least, neutral light, and appreciated for its pains. The unpleasant nature of its duties, investigating and punishing the corrupt, naturally makes it feared and disliked by those facing its intense and nerve-wracking scrutiny. Not so long ago, NAB was commonly considered to be a compromised institution, the hand-maiden of those in power and a mere tool to sort out political rivals and dissidents by implicating them in false cases in order to make them see ‘reason’.
But, especially since the Panama Papers leak, when the ‘all-highest’ and the mightiest in the land were put in the dock, NAB has become increasingly aware of its constitutionally granted autonomy in prosecuting and bringing the corrupt to justice. With great authority, however, also comes immense responsibility and the trick is to evenly balance the two, as people’s lifelong reputation and personal image are at stake. NAB success against rampant high-profile money-laundering is also considered indispensible to avoid the Financial Action Task Force’s much dreaded Black List. Also, on International Anti-Corruption Day (December 9), UN Development Programme issued the stark warning that $2.6 trillion, or more than five percent of the world’s GDP, was stolen annually by base bribes and corruption, with the biggest losers being public services, including healthcare, education, clear water, infrastructure, and ultimately the barely surviving poorest citizens.
A powerful independent NAB, operating with alacrity, efficiency and even-handedness, while remaining within the realm of basic human decency, is therefore the undisputed need of the hour. A just policy of uniform, lawful behaviour towards all, and effective strategies that produce the maximum results in the minimum time, should define the country’s premier anti-corruption watchdog. Repeated, but still barren and inconclusive remand, of suspects, perception of prolonged solitary confinement, inhuman conditions, alleged third degree methods or seeming bias, would irreversibly tarnish its public image and adversely impact meaningful, well-directed work. Concentrating on ‘the case, not the face’ is the right approach towards an accused.