Accountability in docks

WITH growing awareness and national debate on menace of corruption, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is understandably under focus especially in respect of its overall performance and its powers to strike plea bargain with the corrupt. Both Government and Opposition are expressing dissatisfaction over the role so far played by the NAB in checking corruption and malpractices.
There can be no two opinions about presence of an effective body to probe rampant corruption and bring culprits to book. Therefore, no one can dispute the existence of a strong NAB but it is the lacklustre performance of the institution as well as question of its autonomy that attract criticism from different circles. NAB Chairman himself had admitted recently that the country is robbed of Rs 15b per day due to unbridled corruption but some experts believe the figure could be as high as Rs 22b. With this in view, we need a well-built, vibrant and effective anti-corruption institution but unfortunately both Opposition and Government are not willing to take practical measures to translate this desire of the nation into reality. NAB has inherent weakness and these must be removed through a comprehensive set of reforms. There is point in the proposal made by Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan to place the institution under the direct control of Supreme Court and that its chief too should be appointed by the apex court. PTI Chairman Imran Khan too has supported the idea and hopefully this would gain greater acceptance and steps would be taken to give total autonomy and independence to the institution. However, things are unlikely to change merely with placing the NAB under the Supreme Court, as the judiciary itself has no enviable record of delivering justice. NAB recruitment process should be completely transparent, fair and inductions should be made only on merit. Similarly, proper and comprehensive training of its officers and staff both at home and abroad is also need of the hour so that employees are capable of carrying out fair investigations. Again, Chairman NAB is strangely defending the power of plea bargain when the entire nation is against this unfair power of the Bureau. This needs to be done away with instantly.

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