NAB on trial

  • More professionalism, please!

It’s one thing for leading newspaper editorials to question NAB’s (National Accountability Bureau) neutrality in the so-called anti-corruption drive that is all the rage at the moment. It’s quite another when the most senior Supreme Court judges routinely chastise the watchdog. Only last month Justice Qazi Faez Isa asked why NAB was becoming “politicised,” since its policy to investigate corruption cases was not uniform at all. Not long before that Justice Gulzar Ahmad wondered if the Bureau had ever achieved anything except plea bargains. And in September CJ Saqib Nisar himself observed how NAB was creating lacunae in cases, besides misbehaving with accused persons during interrogations.

Now Justice Sheikh Azmat has had to take strong notice, during bail applications of suspects in the Rs170m Bank of Punjab fraud case, of NAB’s haphazard arrest policy. All this means that the Bureau is in urgent need of a comprehensive overhaul. How strange that it is whipping up corruption cases one after another, which are of a clearly selective nature, yet it has still not quite ironed out its arrest and investigation policies. Stranger still that those running the watchdog seem bent upon not improving its functioning, and outlook, at all.

Such trends ought to seriously worry the sitting government. It’s not just that it made a big deal about accountability, etc, on the campaign trail. It’s also that it has got little else working for it. In fact, some who feel that the government has already lost its way still believe that accountability might just be its one good gift to the nation. Compromising the accountability process, especially at this point, would throw the government completely off track. Yet the only thing Imran Khan has had to say about the matter is that NAB is independent and 50 more people would have been arrested if he had pulled any strings. Hopefully relevant authorities will need no more rebukes to begin putting NAB right.