NAB and the general

$753 million cannot be ignored

Former WAPDA Chairman Lt Gen (retd) Muzammil Hussain’s woes at the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) illustrate the problems that arise when a member of an institution priding itself on being rules-based, a military officer in short, goes into a civilian institution, particularly one with such a poor reputation for honesty as WAPDA. NAB is seized of a complaint about WAPDA’s Tarbela Hydropower Project-IV, which involves $753 million. Naturally, the process of investigation involves the WAPDA Chairman of the time, who happens to be General Muzammil. However, when it summoned him on June 6, he filed a written reply through his lawyers. NAB still had some queries, and asked him to appear again on June 20.

When accepting the WAPDA Chairmanship, General Muzammil should have known that there would be mud flung at him, and that some of it might stick. It would be impossible to ignore any complaint involving such a large sum, and the only way to counter the damage to his reputation would be to cooperate fully with the authorities, and not stand upon his dignity. It is that lack of cooperation that would raise doubts about his conduct.

There may be good and valid reasons for General Muzammil not to appear, but this has led to the creation of an unfortunate image. This is perhaps unavoidable when an official of one institution moves to another, and tries to behave as if he still belongs to the first. All those moving from one organization to another should expect to be treated according to their second organization’s reputation, not that of their first. Further, it should be remembered that NAB is under a process of change, what with its governing law amended and its head about to be changed. Therefore, it is within the realm of possibility that it may be over-enthusiastic in the investigation of such a large case.

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


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