By: Akhtar Aly Kureshy
Order passed in a suo motu case by the Chief Justice of Pakistsn, Mr Justice Gulzar Ahmad, is really a breakthrough in our judicial history as the entire judicial system has already collapsed, whereas NAB cases also disappointed the entire nation. There is no progress, as nothing coming out in NAB cases, some of which have been pending since 1999, and the index of corruption is going speedily higher, and everybody, including politicians and particularly those who are facing NAB cases, are condemning NAB for being onesided, whereas public is helpless at the dead-slow accountability.
It is an open secret that without strict accountability you can’t be a live and prosper as a nation, and Pakistan being a Muslim nation, its responsibility is more strict and wide. It is very unfortunate after 73 years of independence we still awaiting some angels from the Almighty or some type of religious leader like Khomeini (of the Iranian revolution) who orders the shooting of anyone who does the corruption of a rupee. As a result, everybody has no option except become honest and good or go underground.
Although NAB is an independent and national institution which has a heavy responsibility to clean up corruption from Pakistan, surprisingly our leaders who made the NAB law and this institution, never tried to build the credibility of this institution as independent and impartial. Rather NAB is seriously lacking its basic infrastructure and suffers from capacity building issues, even shortages of NAB courts and judges, meaning thereby our leaders are not sincere for accountability, as earlier General Musharraf misused NAB 1999-2008; then the Zardari government of 2008-13 was not interested in accountability as the majority of their leaders, MNAs & MPAs, and so on, were liable to be arrested in NAB cases. Similarly the PML(N) in 2013-18 was also the least interested in accountability. None of them ever tried to reform the NAB laws and now all of them are crying after they have fallen under the thumb of NAB and are raising question marks on the credibility and performance of NAB. Even the present PTI government too has no vision of impartial and across-the-board accountability as their two year passed hopelessly.
A nation can’t survive or make progress unless its judicial system is empowered to deliver justice instantly and inexpensively. It is the prime duty of the State to create such legislation and infrastructure. Without justice a civilized society is a dream and a blind support to create a brutal and inhuman society as will happen in the jungle. These days when the whole World has become a global village with ultra-modern devices and systems and every country is claiming to be more powerful and civilized and some even to have made atom bombs, to have no system to access instant and easy justice is an abuse for those who are leaders and ruling the nation. Unfortunately our country Pakistan is also facing such a situation and has no justification for this corrupt practice. The leaders remained busy in looting national money to buy foreign properties and comforts, leaving the poor nation without health care, Education and justice system and there is no option except to compromise and become a corrupt citizen and give a twist to NAB authorities, who are also members of the same society.
In Pakistan, it is clearly understandable that three persons can change the Pakistan. First is the PM, who is the leader and enjoys the command and confidence of public, but apparently he is too lacking accountability vision. Just quoting the Chinese example is not enough and similarly the present government or cabinet has had no meeting or agenda or funds allocation or shown any reform intention for NAB or its capacity building, at least none was ever announced, though NAB with its traditional style of dead slow speed is going on disappointing the nation. The second personality is the Army Chief who can build pressure for impartial and across-the-board accountability, but apparently he is not so inclined after the case of his extension in the Supreme Court.
Last but not least is the Chief Justice of Pakistan who has taken notice of NAB performance and passed an appreciable order and sought suggestions from the Chairman NAB and Government in the suo motu case. This is really a blessing for the system to speed up and finish its backlog and make its line and length clear to punish those who are corrupt.
On a similar question of deeprooted corruption, I asked Ijaz Hussain Batalvi, a legendary barrister and intellectual, who smiled and said, “There is need to appoint a policeman with every citizen of Pakistan.” True, to keep 220 million people honest and corruption-free, NAB requires a huge capacity building of human resource, law officers, judges, courts and infrastructure, as SC has rightly ordered completion of trials within three months and appeal time in High Court is mentioned as just 30 days in NAB laws.
It is easy to have a corruption-free society, but the schedule of NAB proceedings must be followed, like the three months fixed for inquiry, then strictly three months for investigation, three months for trial in the NAB Court and one month for appeal in the High Court. This is the secret, and rests with the present Government which claims for change and accountability. The order of making of 120 NAB Courts will begin a new era when the speedy process of NAB Courts and their judgments will generate a new atmosphere of accountability and justice. This will let us redesign our society as ordered in the Holy Quran and for those fascinated by Europe, enable us to stand in the comity of nations with sobriety and respect to pursue prosperity, eliminating poverty and corruption.
The writer is an Advocate of the Supreme Court and a former Assistant Attorney General