In defence of NAB

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AS the Senate witnessed a heated debate over role and performance of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Prime Minister Imran Khan came out in strong defence of the institution by pointing out that total recoveries by NAB in 2019 and 2020 amounted to Rs.389 billion in comparison to previous 10 years (2008-2018) recoveries of Rs.104 billion, adding that how the nation benefits when state institutions are allowed to function independently without political interference.
There can be no two opinions that accountability is the need of the hour to help get rid of the menace of corruption, which is assuming dangerous dimensions. The institution of accountability was created in response to popular demand of the people, who were fed up with the ever-increasing instance of all-pervading corruption. It is also a reality that NAB has succeeded in recovering billions of rupees and is proving as an effective check against unbridled corruption as its fear is serving as deterrence against misuse of power and amassing of ill-gotten wealth. However, the process of accountability has suffered hugely because of an impression that it is only used against political opponents of the Government in power. This unfortunate impression was there in the past and persists during tenure of the incumbent Government as well because of various reasons. Interference in the working of the NAB is the biggest hurdle in the way of an across-the-board and transparent process of accountability. The opposition alleges if the NAB is truly independent then what was the need for an advisor on accountability, why ministers keep on making different claims ahead of each and every action by NAB against politicians and why some of the high profile cases of the present government are not being touched. It is because of undue interference in the working of the NAB that it has received shocks in relations to its investigations in the United Kingdom. Similarly, the clause of plea bargain is also allegedly misused to whitewash some instances of corruption involving influential persons. Lacunas need to be removed in the light of the observations made by the highest court of the land.