A late realisation | Pakistan Today

A late realisation

  • But similar treatment required for all categories of accused

There is yet another sign of the PTI government’s vindictiveness, double-standards and its being slow on the uptake. It has been claimed umpteen times by the PTI leadership that NAB is an independent body, free in the choice of cases it takes up and the manner it treats the accused. Further, the government has no power whatsoever to dictate to NAB. It appears now that the claim was pure flimflam.

It has suddenly dawned upon the PTI after a year in power that business activities had stopped and the economy had become crippled due to the fearsome tactics employed by NAB against the bureaucrats and businessmen. As Special Assistant to PM on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan has put it, the federal cabinet has decided to make some procedural changes in the working of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to provide a fear-free environment for business activities and investment for the revival of the crippled economy.

It has gone on too long. In a one-sided process of accountability, those supporting the government are not called upon to explain how they managed to acquire assets beyond their known resources or grossly misused office while in power. It is highly unjust to send to jail opposition leaders who have not been sentenced by any court and who continue to cooperate with NAB by appearing before it to answer the accusations against them. That the government can direct the NAB to show lenience to the businessmen and bureaucrats makes it abundantly clear that NAB’s vindictiveness against the opposition leaders was at the behest of the PTI government

The rule of law requires that every citizen be treated as equal in the application of law. Reserving one kind of treatment for businessmen and bureaucrats accused of misuse of power, corruption or money laundering, and another for politicians arrested on identical charges violates the concept of the rule of law and is practiced only under authoritarian regimes.

Only those with a despotic mindset insist on torturous punishments for opponents over-riding normal laws to satisfy their desire for revenge. This is unacceptable in a democracy where rulers’ whims do not influence accountability bodies or courts of law.