- It has just increased its credibility problem
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has greeted the recent amendments in the Ordinance governing by doing what it is accused of: going after opposition leaders, while whitewashing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) figures who have fallen foul of it. At its latest executive board meeting, NAB dropped its enquiry into PM’s Overseas Pakistanis Adviser Zulfi Bukhari, while opening an inquiry into ex-PMs Nawaz Sharif and Yousaf Raza Gilani, and ex-President Asif Ali Zardari, for misusing the Toshakhana.
Mr Bukhari was exonerated because there was insufficient evidence against him. He was investigated because he too appeared in the Panama Papers. Mian Nawaz was disqualified from the National Assembly, and removed as PM, in connection with the Panama Papers. NAB claims to be an impartial organisation, but it is worth noting that this impartiality has operated in one direction only. It has been heard that there was not enough effort put into gathering the evidence against Mr Bukhari which would have been available in the UK.
Another interesting thing has been that while Mr Bukhari has been let off, the same absence of evidence has not meant freedom for many Opposition stalwarts who have been languishing in jail without having their cases sent to court. Under the new changes in the NAB Ordinance, they could be freed because prosecutors would have their cases dismissed by the courts.
The plea that the cases were filed under the previous law makes it essential for the law to include an explicit provision for existing cases, so that NAB is put out of its misery, and not forced to take to court cases for which it has no evidence. The purpose of NAB is the pursuit and prosecution of corruption, not the persecution of any group, such as businessmen or civil servants. Or opposition politicians. The whole matter reflects the problems of having amendments made by ordinance, rather than following normal parliamentary procedure. The government does have an opportunity coming up, as the NAB Ordinance amendments are due, which are to be made with opposition input. While the government got its required Army Act amendment through all right, it should not expect the opposition to cooperate like that on any NAB related legislation unless they too are fairly afforded the same relief the latter is currently enjoying.