The much required action to reactivate and rejuvenate the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Ehtesab Commission (EC) was eventually taken when the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) decided to empower Chief Justice Peshawar High Court (CJPHC) to appoint Director General (DG) of the commission which has been under shadows for quite some times owing to many factors.
The step has been taken to effectively curb the menace of corruption with PTI Chairman Imran Khan making announcement to this effect on Thursday in his twitter post. He stated that the KP government will be introducing bill in the provincial assembly that the DG EC should be appointed by the CJPHC. Furthermore, he said that according to the proposed bill DG EC should report to the CJPHC to make the accountability body independent from the provincial government’s influence.
The much orchestrated KP EC that was formed a few years back with sincere intentions to effectively curb the menace of corruption without succumbing to any pressure had to face some hurdles when provincial cabinet proposed certain amendments in the Ehstesab Act.
After the amendments, it had become mandatory for the commission to take prior permission from speakers/chairmen of the national assembly, senate and provincial assembly for arresting any member of the parliament while the commission was also required to inform the chief secretary in advance in case of arrest of any government official. Hence the commission that had held big fishes including a sitting minister of the provincial government under the charges of corruption, faced threats of being stripped off the powers to arrest the culprits and corrupt element especially the big shots through amendments enacted in the accountability act.
In fact taking bold stance the commission had expressed its displeasure over the amendments made in accountability act apprehending it was destined to weaken the PTI led coalition government ‘s efforts to conduct transparent inquiry against the corrupts.
The commission headed by a retired army general, has also asked the PTI chief to intervene in the matter if he seriously wanted to deal with corrupts with iron hands under his agenda of change. The DG of the KP EC, Lt-General® Hamid Khan, who had expressed serious reservations over the amendment in the accountability act saying the process, would be at the mercy of bureaucracy, later resigned from his position creating a vacuum in the accountability body.
While serious circles and those wanting to see PTI’s agenda of change succeed and noose tightened around the real culprits, apprehended that the act had been passed in time when inquiries against ministers, advisers and top officials of the provincial government are underway in the commission ,the opposition parties have also been criticizing the establishment of EC and alleged that Chief Minister Pervez Khattak was using the commission against his political rivals.
The cold war between the KP EC and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), already under fire from certain quarters including the Judiciary and Media, and internal differences within the EC has further hampered the performance of the commission.
The commission which has initiated inquiries against many corrupt officials is said to be facing hurdles in proceeding against those elements as before putting hand on them it (EC) is required to discuss the issue with NAB. This was another blow to the commission.
Speaking up his mind about running the affairs of KP EC under the supervision of PHC, Imran Khan in his recent tweet further said that the PTI was also considering to come up a similar bill for the appointment of the chairman NAB whose serving Chairman, Imran said, has failed to deliver.
Even the CM Pervez Khattak during his chat with the media persons on Thursday said his government was bringing amendment to the existing Ehtesab Act empowering the CJPHC in the committee under him for the search and scrutiny and subsequent nomination and appointment of the DG EC. The nomination of the CJPHC and the four judges committee would be binding and final that would remove all the doubts, speculations of influences on the commission and its proceedings, Khattak said.
Now when the PTI chief has made up his mind to make the commission a highly effective body holding the corrupts accountable without succumbing to any pressure and supervised by the August court, we hope that misgivings about the commission, that had literally gone dormant in the recent period, would be removed and it will be in a commanding position to perform its job without fear of any force and in the best interest of the People of KP.