News Analysis |
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has started a preliminary inquiry against the former chief minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and incumbent defense minister Pervaiz Khattak. NAB Chairman Javed Iqbal chaired the meeting of the executive board—which approved the 14 inquiries against various personalities including former CM KP Pervaiz Khattak and Former Speaker Sindh Assembly Agha Siraj Durrani.
Inquiries Against Corrupt Elements in KP
NAB has initiated the inquiries against the number of KP officials including, former Additional Chief Secretary (P&D) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Khalid Pervaiz, Managing Director Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mushtaq Khan, Dr Ahsan Ali, former Vice-Chancellor, Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan and Nawabzada Mehmood Zaib, former provincial minister for Technical Education, Manpower, Industries, Mineral Development Development , Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
While, on the other hand, Chairman NAB also faced severe criticism for not ensuring the accountability across the board. PML-N accused NAB of a witch-hunt and termed the NAB ordinance as a black law enacted by the General retired Pervez Musharraf
NAB did not specify the nature of inquiry and exact charges against the Pervaiz Khattak, Mushtaq Khan, and Khalid Pervaiz. However, Dr. Ahsan Ali along with others is accused of inflicting the losses of Rs 328.366 million in the awarding contract of purchasing IT equipment to favorite companies on higher rates. Similarly, Nawabzada Mehmood Zaib has allegedly inflicted the losses of Rs 350.52 million to the national exchequer by awarding phosphate exploration contract of 498.96-acre land at cheaper rates of Rs 14,980 by abusing authority.
Elimination of Corruption, Khan’s Top Priority
It’s an interesting and significant development especially after the meeting of Prime Minister Imran Khan with NAB chairman on August 29—where PM Khan expressed satisfaction with the performance of the Bureau and ensured that his government’s top priority was to conduct and facilitate the indiscriminate accountability across the board.
PM Khan, during his election campaign, and many years in opposition raised slogans to eradicate corruption and promote the transparency in the country. Khan’s whole campaign revolved around the accountability and to end the widespread graft in one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
He reemphasized on this pledge in his party’s 100-day agenda. PTI has promised to ensure full autonomy for NAB. After winning the 25 August elections, PM Khan reiterated his desire to empower NAB in his maiden speech as PM of the country. Even, as a PM-elect, Khan vowed that he won’t spare on one who looted the tax-payers money and promised strict accountability.
NAB’s Unjustified Criticism
While, on the other hand, Chairman NAB also faced severe criticism for not ensuring the accountability across the board. PML-N accused NAB of a witch-hunt and termed the NAB ordinance as a black law enacted by the General retired Pervez Musharraf. Its leaders accused the bureau of political victimization at the behest of the military establishment. Even, media bashed the NAB chief over an apparent foul play in Sindh, where it had closed down the corruption inquiries against several influential individuals PPP leaders. PML-N accused NAB of favoring PTI.
PM Khan’s First Major Test and Risk of Rebellion
However, NAB’s decision to launch inquiries against the powerful defense minister and adviser to the PM on parliamentary affairs Babar Awan speaks volumes of its commitment to eliminate corruption without caring about any duress. PM Khan had promised in his much-lauded maiden address to the nation that accountability would start from his government and its ministers. PTI must alienate itself from corrupt elements in its ranks to avoid political victimization from the opposition.
PM Imran seems content with the NAB’s performance and with more autonomy, it [NAB] would be more equipped to investigate and prosecute the corrupt individuals across Pakistan without hurdles.
However, PTI also risks a rebellion from inside. It is only a start of inquiry against Khattak, if NAB goes on to file a corruption reference against him, he should also resign from his post. Opposition in KP had raised concerns over Khattak’s dealings in the province. Moreover, after establishing a political clout in the province and extending tickets to his close family members, defense minister has formed a strong group—which may create hurdles for PM Khan and may trigger a wave of disintegration, if NAB continues its proceedings against him.
NAB has opened up cases across the board, against the political parties, and military personnel over their alleged involvement in corruption cases. It is sticking to its policy of accountability for all as the country’s prosperity lies in eliminating corruption. PM Imran seems content with the NAB’s performance and with more autonomy, it [NAB] would be more equipped to investigate and prosecute the corrupt individuals across Pakistan without hurdles.