The NAB loses credibility

  • Cases being instituted at PM’s directions?

PM Imran Khan repeats, almost compulsively, that he would not give an NRO to opposition leaders facing corruption cases. The mechanism Mr Khan is relying upon to end corruption is however highly partisan, defective and against legal and constitutional norms.

On Friday, opposition senators rejected the ongoing process of accountability as one-sided and accused the government of using it for a witch-hunt of its opponents. It was claimed that the NAB chief was being blackmailed to target the opposition after the leak of his “immoral audio and video clips” and he was now compelled to obey all orders “he receives through WhatsApp”. A Senator maintained that the accountability body had turned into a PTI wing. Another member of the Upper House accused NAB of indulging in unprecedented political victimization.

Never before had NAB come so severely under criticism from superior courts as in preceding months. Last month SC judge Umar Ata Bandial remarked that the controversial provision empowering NAB to detain an accused for 90 days on physical remand in every reference is “cruel and an injustice”. In another case the same judge slammed NAB for ‘selectively applying its law on individuals’. The 87-page judgment by SC Justice Baqar  granting bail to PML(N) leader Kh Saad Rafique makes damaging observations about NAB’s capricious exercise of the power to arrest in utter disregard to law, fair play, equity and propriety. The NAB, said the judgment, shows reluctance in proceeding against people on one side of the political divide, even in respect of financial scams of massive proportion, while it arrests and incarcerates for months and years those on the other side without providing any sufficient cause.

In October, retired FIA director general Bashir Memon accused PM Imran Khan in a video interview of pressuring him to prosecute opposition leaders on serious charges despite there being no evidence. He also said that Mr Khan wanted the recently arrested senior PML(N) leader Khawaja Asif to be tried for treason under Article 6 of the Constitution. This exposes the hollowness of the slogan of sparing no corrupt politician.

The ongoing accountability drama has to end. The rotten system has to be improved in consultation with the opposition. There is a likelihood otherwise of opposition leaders refusing to appear before it.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].
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