News Analysis |
In the latest development, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has arrested Mr. Kamran Michael, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former federal minister for Ports and Shipping, for misuse of powers as a federal minister during his party’s last tenure and pocketing over Rs1 billion in bribes.
According to sources, Mr. Michael was apprehended by the NAB’s Karachi chapter. Mr. Michael has reportedly been charged with illegally getting three commercial plots on prime locations of Karachi Port Trust Cooperative Housing Society in Mai Kolachi area of Karachi to his accomplices against which he allegedly received a huge bribe. The former minister allegedly abused his authority by influencing the officials to carry out illegal orders to make allotments in 2013.
Opposition parties generally allege the anti-corruption watchdog for being a political pawn of the ruling party but after the arrest of Senior Minister of Punjab Mr. Aleem Khan such criticism has lost its relevance and impact.
A corruption reference with respect to 16 such plots was already filed by NAB Karachi in which evidence against Michael for receiving bribe was unearthed during the further investigation in the case, reports claimed and added that the plots are worth Rs1.05 billion. He will be presented before an accountability court in Karachi on Saturday (today) to obtain judicial remand and initiate further proceedings.
Who is Kamran Michael?
Mr. Michael was elected as a member of the Senate on minority’s seat in 2012 and then re-elected to the Senate on a reserved seat for non-Muslims from Punjab in the 2018 Senate election. He has served as a minister for statistics in former PM Abbasi’s cabinet from August 2017 to May 2018. He has also served as the minister for human rights in the third tenure of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from 2013 to 2017. Michael held the portfolio of minister for ports and shipping from 2013 to 2016.
Read more: Is NAB working independently?
In May 2018, the NAB had reportedly launched a probe against Michael for allegedly accumulating assets beyond his known sources of income during his stint as the ports and shipping minister. The accountability watchdog’s Karachi and Lahore bureaus had gathered evidence against the PML-N leader, according to reports. It is also learned that now the bureau has a sufficient amount of evidence which led to the arrest of the former minister.
In January 2016, the Lahore High Court had ordered the police to register a case against Michael for allegedly embezzling money on the pretext of selling the Holy Trinity Church in Murree.
Accountability Across the Board?
NAB has repeatedly said that it will continue to bring everyone who has misused authority or bribed money before the law. Opposition parties generally allege the anti-corruption watchdog for being a political pawn of the ruling party but after the arrest of Senior Minister of Punjab Mr. Aleem Khan such criticism has lost its relevance and impact. PTI has made it clear after the arrest of its senior provincial minister that that law will take its own course and the party will not interfere into legal matters.
It is believed unless these political leaders prove themselves honest in the courts in cases file against them as per laws, their verbosity on media is not going to save them.
Moreover, Mr. Khan has resigned from his post immediately after he was taken into custody. For many analysts, it also set a new precedent in Pakistan that those found guilty of misuse of authority or possessing assets beyond means should no longer hold public offices. But such example has apparently failed to impress the opposition parties so far.
It is in the news that some more arrests are also expected. Sources claim that the NAB is about to arrest some leaders from the opposition parties and also some serving ministers as well. Political commentators believe that such independence shown by the NAB has confirmed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s claim of accountability across the board.
The very same political leaders of opposition that lambast the media for media trail launch media campaigns as soon as any of their leaders get arrested. The accountability cases and investigations launched against them are all based on evidence and proofs unlike their accusations during their media campaigns. It is believed unless these political leaders prove themselves honest in the courts in cases file against them as per laws, their verbosity on media is not going to save them.