Getting into the thick of things | Pakistan Today

Getting into the thick of things

  • Why is the NAB chairman making political statements?

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), due to its hyperactivity, perpetually remains in the headlines, for launching high-profile investigations that usually progress quickly towards politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen having to visit the bureau’s head offices, not knowing if they will be arrested on the spot or at a later date. That fear, in addition to the draconian laws set out in its Ordinance of 1999 make NAB a very powerful institution that is fuelled by the PTI government’s ‘corruption’ mantra. It is no wonder therefore why a disproportionately large number of those behind bars in yet-to-be decided corruption cases, are from opposition parties. The perception therefore is that NAB works on the direction of the PTI government. This is consistently denied by the NAB chairman who insists that he runs an independent institution that picks cases on the basis of merit. In an address on International Corruption Day, the NAB chairman said, “The winds have started blowing from a different direction”. This is a purely political statement that Mr Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal had no business making. Does he mean to say that the tilt towards opposition party leaders is about to shift towards the PTI government? It would make sense since he followed up his ‘changing winds’ statement with a commitment to take up the BRT Peshawar and Malam Jabba resort cases very soon, both PTI-centric cases.

On one hand, the NAB chairman wants the institution he leads to be free from politics and do its job of fighting corruption diligently and effectively, yet on the other he deliberately makes statements that drag the Bureau into the political discourse. It would be best if NAB does its mandated job quietly, free from controversy and scandal in order to improve on its unimpressive conviction rate as well. Short of that; the accountability watchdog will remain in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.