The opposition wants it; the government has no objection; a superior court too has issued a favourbale ruling. NAB laws thus appear set for tweaks. A parliamentary committee, comprising senior members of the government and the opposition, reviewed the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 during a recent meeting. Even though there were drastic suggestions like doing away with NAB altogether, the parliamentary panel appeared unanimous on the need for bringing amendments that could enable NAB to act independent of any influence and carry out fair accountability without misusing its powers and authority. The two sides agree that such amendments should be introduced in the light of the recommendations of the Council of Islamic Ideology and a recent judgment by the Lahore High Court whereby ‘absolute’ and ‘unchecked’ exercise of powers by NAB chairman for issuance of arrest warrants have been declared contrary to the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
The incumbent NAB chairman, on the other hand, says that the “propaganda” of political victimisation is launched by those who are involved in corruption, accumulating assets beyond means, and abusing authority for monetary gains. He insists that the accountability drive being carried out in the country is impartial and the accountability net thrown by the corruption watchdog spares none. But the fact that almost all of those involved in the NAB cases belong to the opposition belies the claims of impartial accountability. The fact is that the process of accountability in our country has always been opposition-intended and void of fairness and impartiality. To quote instances from the past, Nawaz Sharif’s Ehtesab Bureau of the nineties was solely aimed at bringing the PPP to book. The same Ehtesab Bureau, renamed NAB in the Musharraf era, invested all its energies into finding a culprit in the PML-N. And under the PTI-led incumbent government too, NAB has failed to falsify the general impression that it is merely a tool in the hands of the rulers meant for carrying out political victimisation.
There is thus all the justification to bring changes to the existing NAB laws so as to rid it of political influence.
Punishing bribe seekers