NAB’s knee-jerk reaction

NATIONAL Accountability Bureau (NAB) has triggered an unnecessary controversy by deciding to initiate an inquiry into media reports regarding $4.9 billion money-laundering to India allegedly involving former Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, which proved mere conjectures and were instantly rejected not only by State Bank of Pakistan but also the World Bank. Media publicity to NAB decision was understandably quite embarrassing for Mr Nawaz, who is already under great pressure due to multitudes of other factors.
The party rightly claims that damage has been done to its Quaid on the basis of NAB move and that is why addressing the National Assembly on Wednesday, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi proposed that a Parliamentary Committee should be formed to probe the allegations against the former Prime Minister. He also described it as pre-poll rigging and sought opposition’s cooperation to amend the accountability law. Irrespective of whether a Parliamentary Committee would be formed or not and what would be the fate of his suggestion to amend accountability law at this stage when the government has only three weeks to rule, the fact remains that NAB showed knee-jerk reaction to the media reports, which should not be the case with a reputable institution. Of course, it is responsibility and duty of the Bureau to take cognisance of any wrong-doing vis-à-vis corruption and corrupt practices but it should also be kept in mind that its moves and decisions should not cause undue embarrassment to other people. What was the urgency to issue a statement about probe without sufficient homework to meet demands of justice and fair play? NAB should exercise extra-care and caution in view of the fact that elections are due in two and a half months and nothing should be done that could be construed as pre-polls rigging against any particular party or individual or in favour of political opponents. We have been proposing in these columns that both the NAB as well as judiciary might consider exercising restraint at least till the time general election is held with a view to giving level-playing fields to all candidates and parties as per dictates of the Constitution and the law. This incident has once again underlined the need to bring to a halt all moves considered as one-sided or lopsided till the conduct of general election. Apart from ensuring transparency and credibility of the elections, this would also help preserve prestige and neutrality of national institutions.

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