Hunting season or witch hunt?
The new NAB chairman seems to have breathed fresh life into the Bureau. But since hyperactivity, especially in matters of accountability, almost always invites immediate blowback, Justice (r) Javed Iqbal’s frenzy has quickly made NAB the centre of yet another controversy. First, when it went after the Sharifs, it was dubbed a ‘conspiracy’ against one family. Then, when it drew in Ishaq Dar – and later his sons – it was a crusade against one party. Then, after the Chaudharys were served notices the Bureau was accused of focusing its anti-corruption energies on Punjab only. But after Sindh Assembly passed a resolution, accusing NAB of double standards – since Sharjeel Memon was arrested and the Sharifs were not – it seems the political hierarchy is finding rare common cause against the Bureau.
Other things remaining constant, a spirited accountability bureau is just what the doctor ordered for corruption-ridden countries like Pakistan. It is, however, the Bureau’s own track record that begs the proverbial pinch of salt whenever its so called crusade against corruption is brought under the spotlight. Traditionally, nobody at the top has even bothered for plausible deniability as year after year NAB, and the Ehtisab Bureau before it, has been blatantly used for political maneuvering and score settling.
Politicians, now pointing fingers at NAB, have only themselves to blame for not being able to debate such matters properly in parliament. The ruling party, unfortunately, has led the effort of making the House irrelevant. Now, we have a bunch of the political elite running around like headless chicken and a determined, though repeatedly discredited, Bureau chasing them. The anti-corruption drive, which began with the Panama case, will go many steps further if NAB has, indeed, declared a clean and transparent hunting season. But we will be back to square one if, as usual, somebody is pulling the strings and this is just another witch hunt.
Strings are being pulled indeed. Even Judiciary appears to be on “steroids”! Our politics are selfish and totally against national interest. This is the culture Nawaz created and he is cashing on it. He and his cronies can be defeated using his own uncouth tactics.
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