NAB soul-searching

  • It needs to do things differently


The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) needs to take account of itself a little more deeply than it did during a meeting on Saturday presided over by NAB Chairman Mr Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal, to review the overall performance of the Bureau, when it seems that it focused on self-congratulation, with forays into extolling the Chairman’s wisdom and reviewing his slogans. However, the official handout of the meeting did offer some nuggets of information that would indicate both that the Bureau needs to do things differently, and how it could so.

That the number of complaints, enquiries and investigations has almost doubled since the same period last year was perhaps only to be expected, as NAB in this period has been used as a political tool by the government against the opposition, with a number of opposition figures under arrest because of how vocal they were against the government, not how corrupt they might have been. Another problem NAB faces is that when these persons might be declared innocent in one case, there has to be another case instituted against them, so that they can be kept locked up.

Apart from the issue of focus, NAB also finds that it does not obtain as many convictions as it would wish. This is the perennial problem for prosecutors, that they are pitted against the best defence lawyers that money can buy. And NAB should not forget that the lawyers are often paid from the proceeds of corruption. It is also a problem that NAB investigators very often do not prepare the lawyers properly because they lack the capacity to investigate white-collar crime properly. NAB needs to work out a means of building that capacity quickly, so that if results are to be obtained in a genuine case, the task of the defence attorney is not made laughably easy. However, more than any raising of slogans, NAB must stop itself being used against the political opponents of the government, for nothing has been more destructive of its credibility than this very use. With this loss of credibility, much good work, good because not political, has gone down the drain as far as its building a reputation goes.