Confusion about role, fate of NAB

DARK clouds have been surrounding National Accountability Bureau (NAB) with its fate hanging in balance since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his serious reservations on the functioning of the bureau. More leaders from the PML (N) continue to add their voices against the modus operandi of NAB while Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf, which itself made its Ehtesab Commission ineffective in KP, is turning up in defence of the federal anti-graft institution.
On Saturday, Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif reminded the accountability bureau to remain confine to its goals as a responsible watchdog, adding the government would not allow any institution to influence projects having national importance. Imran Khan, whose Pakistan Tehreek-i- Insaaf government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recently reformed its own accountability law in an apparent move to curtail the powers of Ehtesab Commission, said his party would resist any attempt by the PML (N) to clip the wings of NAB. He also condemned the PM and CM Punjab for hurling threats to the accountability bureau. If one looks at the performance of the NAB, it is crystal clear that the anti-graft institution could not act proactively to check the menace of corruption and some of its procedures rather dented the image of institution. Its plea bargain provided a legal tool to offenders accused of corruption or misuse of authority to officially indulge in corruption and get them cleared of all charges by returning some portion of the plundered amount. In many cases, the defaulters even have failed to complete plea bargain payments. This speaks volume of the inefficiencies and incompetence on the part of NAB officials. Apart from government, the Supreme Court has time and again voiced dissatisfaction over the performance of the institution. The government’s concerns vis-à-vis modus operandi of NAB appears to be genuine and legitimate yet at the same time it should undertake immediate steps to remove the current confusion and uncertainty surrounding functioning of the Bureau. The process of reforms in the institution should be undertaken by evolving consensus amongst all the political parties in order to avoid any controversies. There should be such an effective accountability institution that not only delivers but also enjoys trust of all people.

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