Senior leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has categorically said that Pakistan cannot be run if the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is there. “I have told the ministers that the NAB will never allow this country get prosperous,” he said.
While speaking with a host on private TV channel, Abbasi maintained that “the NAB law is black and must be abolished at the earliest”.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also called on Pakistan to stop using the NAB as a tool for political witch-hunt in the light of a recent Supreme Court decision which termed the anti-graft agency’s conduct as a manifestation of “utter disregard to the law, fair play, equity and propriety”. The opposition parties have already demanded the government to abolish NAB.
SC slams NAB
In the detailed, 87-page ruling, penned by Justice Maqbool Baqar, the Supreme Court of Pakistan highlighted severe lapses in the NAB’s due process and legal procedure, the definition and purpose of bail, and due processes in criminal cases. This judgment is the reason behind demanding to abolish the NAB.
The court noted about the NAB that its “conduct throughout this case is a clear manifestation of their utter disregard for law, fair play, equity, and propriety”.
“In this country, it would be quite contrary to the concept of personal liberty enshrined in the Constitution that any person should be punished in respect of any matter, upon which, he has not been convicted or that in any circumstances, he should be deprived of his liberty upon only the belief that he will tamper with the witnesses if left at liberty, save in the most extraordinary circumstances.
Justice Baqar further underlined that “all civilized societies recognize the principle that punishment comes only after conviction, and the presumption of innocence subsist with the accused, till he is handed down the punishment after trial”. “It hardly needs any reiteration that the detention either pre-trial or during trial causes great hardship,” the judgment added.
“Nobody can dictate NAB”
In 2019, Justice (Retd) Javed Iqbal, Chairman NAB, made it cleat that the NAB law was not a black law. “Many Socrates and Platos have come to life who have never read the NAB law but still criticize and call it a black law,” said the NAB chairman.
While addressing the gathering, the chairman categorically rejected what he termed as “malicious propaganda” against the watchdog, while vowing to continue work according to the Constitution of Pakistan.
The NAB chairman said, “If NAB was a black law, the Supreme Court would have abolished it.” “This is a black law for those who are still involved in stealing,” the chairman stressed.
He said that he has always welcomed criticism, but it should be logical and conceivable. The NAB chairman warned that the accountability watchdog would act against those taking part in corruption. “If there wasn’t corruption, Pakistan would not need to take loans.”
Justice (Retd) Iqbal further said there was no person who could dictate NAB, adding there was propaganda being done against the bureau. “The time when corruption was overlooked has passed,” the NAB chairman warned. “If anyone commits corruption, then he/she will have to confront NAB.”
Experts believe that the government should not abolish the NAB rather it needs to be thoroughly reformed in order to make it effective and in line with the basic values as prescribed in the constitution of Pakistan.