While the politicians can be heard complaining about victimisation by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the fact of the matter is that while NAB has been hard on government employees, it has been very soft on the politicians.
NAB has claimed that it has recovered a total amount of Rs 264 billion since its inception in 1999. However, there is little evidence to suggest that it has been very effective in countering corruption in the country.
In 2014, the then chairman NAB Fasih Bukhari said that the starting figure of corruption hovered at around Rs 12 billion every day. Thus, the annual corruption figure touches Rs 4,000 billion to Rs 5,000 billion. Most of this amount was swallowed up by a nexus of politicians and bureaucrats.
Documents available with Pakistan Today show that while the NAB officials have been hard at work holding the government employees of the smaller provinces accountable, they have been ‘very friendly’ with the government employees of Punjab.
The data of the past five years from 2011 to 2016 shows that 233 cases of embezzlement and corruption were referred to the NAB from Rawalpindi. Out of the total, 78 cases were finalised. It is interesting to note that out of the 78 finalised cases, only two received a sentence from by the NAB courts while the others were allowed to walk free.
Similarly, NAB Lahore was referred 366 embezzlement cases. It completed 619 cases, including 253 that were carried forwarded from previous years. Only 26 officials were punished while the rest were set free.
In contrast, NAB Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) was referred 323 cases. The regional office completed 378 cases, including 55 carry forward ones. A total of 91 officials were accorded punishment.
NAB Balochistan was referred 700 cases, out of which, 414 were finalised. Out of the total finalised cases, 50 officials were punished.
In Karachi, NAB was referred 545 cases. Of the referred cases, 490 were finalised while 41 officials were punished.
Meanwhile, the NAB recovered Rs 1.855 billion in eight high profile cases between 2013 and 2015 under plea bargain deals.
POLITICIANS MAKE HAY:
This Rs 264 billion figure also includes the Rs181 billion that have been recovered only from loan defaulters. Therefore, the net amount recovered from those involved in corrupt practices is around Rs 82 billion which is by no means an impressive figure.
In fact, NAB has only recovered proceeds of corruption that roughly cover the period of just one week in the last 15 years.
The ‘plea bargain’ provision in the NAB Ordinance has been criticised roundly from all quarters of the society.
ANTI-CORRUPTION DRIVE SINCE 2013:
NAB claims to have recovered over Rs 7.5 billion in corruption cases between July 2013 and November 2015.
The documents say that NAB initiated 1,674 inquiries in corruption cases during the above-mentioned period. As many as 2,113 inquiries were authorised in cases of mismanagement, irregularity and corruption during the last five years while 2,250 cases are still pending in various high courts.