Hooking the Leviathan

Hopes of reducing NAB's powers 

Over the last three years NAB has charged prominent politicians and senior bureaucrats with corruption and kept them in custody in cases for over a year without proving the charges, leading the courts to bail them out. As the cases filed against the politicians were seen by their fans as vengeful acts those released on bail were warmly greeted by crowds scattering rose petals on their cars. The bureaucrats had no such consolation. They lost their prestigious jobs besides being humiliated through media trial and prolonged incarceration.

The PTI government meanwhile encouraged NAB to continue taking anyone suspected to be corrupt to task. The treatment created panic among the bureaucracy. Fearful of NAB senior government officers showed unwillingness to put their signatures on important files. The government machinery slowed down both at the federal level and the provinces. So strong was the desire for revenge that the federal government failed to rein in NAB.

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Despite the higher judiciary bailing out those arraigned without sufficient proof, and passing strictures against the shoddy cases, there is still no end to fresh cases and unwarranted arrests by NAB. Early this week a NAB board recommended the filing of references against former Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh along with two ex-chairmen of FBR . Earlier this year NAB had also gone into appeal against Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin’s ’s acquittal in the Rental Power references. Before joining the cabinet Mr Tarin had wanted that NAB’s case against him be decided at the earliest. However he agreed to take over the responsibilities while the decision on NAB’s appeal against his acquittal was still pending before the IHC. On Tuesday Mr Tarin complained that the bureaucracy was not performing well on account of the fear of NAB. He said that earlier LNG was imported from Qatar at 13.7 percent above the Brent rate while later on at 10.4 percent above the Brent rate. Despite such a lower import rate, NAB had summoned the files of the agreement. Mr Tarin believes NAB law will have to be amended. One has heard this so many times before also. By the time this happens, a lot of harm would already have been done to the morale of the business community and the bureaucracy.

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

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