- Fresh references further support it
NAB has acted in a predictable way. Within days of being goaded by Prime Minister Imran Khan to dispose of mega corruption cases quickly, the NAB Executive Board promptly approved a fresh reference against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Another reference was approved against PML(N) leader Ahsan Iqbal who continues to irritate the government. In April the NAB had assured that it would begin a “comprehensive” investigation on all aspects of the wheat and sugar scandals. There is no sign of any move in the direction despite claims by top government leaders that they had been provided misleading figures about the reserves, leading them to permit the export of the two commodities.
There also fresh references against bureaucrats. Among those named and shamed are a former foreign secretary, a former DG FIA and a former interior secretary. There are cases against dozens of bureaucrats and technocrats from lower down the bureaucratic rung including former officials of the National Testing Service, CDA, Nespak, Sports Board Punjab and Punjab Saaf Pani Company. One hopes the NAB has learnt the right lesson from its earlier media trial and humiliation of arrested officers which affected the morale of the bureaucracy and led it to avoid taking decisions. Those who caused losses to the exchequer to benefit themselves must be punished but policy decisions taken in good faith leading to unintended results should not lead to prosecution.
The continuous delay to implement the SC decision to set up 120 new accountability courts to enable day-to-day hearings could lead to the perception that the government is taking time to ensure that only loyalists are issued appointment letters. NAB Chairman Mr Justice (rtd) Javed Iqbal has claimed that NAB has no affiliation with any political party, groups or individuals, but only with the state of Pakistan. Many think the Bureau is no more than a pliable instrument in the hands of those in power who use it to change loyalties and persecutes those who refuse to become turncoats. The Supreme Court calling the Paragon Housing Society corruption case a “classic example of trampling of fundamental rights, unlawful deprivation of freedom, and liberty and the complete disregard for human dignity as guaranteed by the Constitution” supports the more popular perceptions.