NAB Chairman under the microscope

  • The hunter turns into quarry


The possibility of the video that compromises NAB Chairman Mr Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal being fake cannot be ruled out. During his nearly three-year-long tenure, the NAB chief has ordered the opening of corruption enquiries against hundreds of people comprising common criminals, land mafia, bureaucrats, retired army officers and politicians. Throughout his tenure, he has played a proactive role to make those found involved in financial crimes get their comeuppance. In March, the Chairman NAB claimed that the Bureau had filed 3,484 corruption references in various accountability courts besides depositing Rs303.767 billion in the national exchequer. In April NAB reportedly recovered property worth Rs600 million from a politician’s business partner. Extra-harsh methods were employed to collect evidence. Obviously, this must have created scores of enemies who would like to seek revenge or try to discredit the Bureau chief. The story about a group of blackmailers, with a married couple, as kingpins is currently going the rounds.

What further raises concerns is that both a video and an audio naming and shaming the NAB chief were screened with great fanfare by a news channel owned by one of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s advisers. The plot thickens as the charges were levelled within days of Mr Justice Javed Iqbal telling a journalist that the PTI government would fall within 10 minutes if NAB was to take up cases against the PM’s allies.

This said, since the voice of the man exchanging lewd remarks with a woman resembles that of the NAB chief, an investigation is required so that it can exonerate him, in case the video and the audio are found to be photoshopped or otherwise fake. This requires a forensic audit as well as a forensic voice identification.

With the NAB chief’s moral authority compromised, it would be appropriate on his part to voluntarily detach himself from NAB’s day-to-day affairs during the enquiry being demanded by various quarters. After the involvement of a government adviser in the affair, any probe ordered by the PM would be suspect. The best way is for Parliament to form a bipartisan committee to thoroughly investigate the affair seeking, if necessary, the help of any government agency it needs.