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Thursday, February 15, 2024

PM Imran To ‘Limit’ NAB’s Power: Restrictions On Arresting Bureaucrats

Bureaucrats are feeling insecure due to ‘unrestrained’ powers given to the NAB. Prime Minister Imran Khan is now considering introducing new laws to ‘limit’ the NAB’s power. Will it work? Should Imran Khan limit NAB's powers?

Prime Minister Imran Khan is reportedly reviewing the National Accountability Bureau’s power to arrest any civil servant, serving or retired, in the garb of “misuse of authority” or for any “procedural lapse”. Reliable sources told GVS that the premier met the chief secretaries and federal secretaries on Tuesday to share their concerns vis-a-vis NAB.

After the meeting, the prime minister has directed the law ministry to prepare draft ordinance to amend the NAB law so that the bureaucracy could be saved from NAB’s harassment. The prime minister asked the law minister to do the job at the earliest.

According to a media report, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Establishment Muhammad Shehzad Arbab, when contacted, said that he does not know whether the premier has directed the law ministry for the issuance of an ordinance to amend the NAB law but he confirmed that the prime minister did assure the secretaries that their concerns would be addressed shortly.

Sources said that the prime minister assured the bureaucracy that the bureaucrats would be saved from NAB action for any of their decision taken in good faith. NAB could arrest the bureaucrats, serving or retired, only on the basis of incriminating evidence of corruption.

Read more: Federal Government amends the NAB law; how will it impact the bureau’s working?

There are reports which suggest that bureaucrats across the country are not feeling ‘safe’ under the PTI’s leadership. During their personal discussions with journalists, many senior civil servants talked about a state of fear created by the NAB which does not allow them to work independently.

“We are Under Undue Pressure”

GVS spoke to a senior bureaucrat who has worked in all provinces of Pakistan. He believes that many senior officers do not feel secure to work under extremely horrible settings set by the PTI government. “The NAB is like a nightmare for bureaucracy,” he said. “For all across the board,” he pointed out, “whether done something wrong or not.”

He quoted the example of Brig. Rtd. Asad Munir who allegedly committed suicide after being humiliated by the NAB officers. “You can recount the Asad Munir episode. What happened to him? It was the time that the premier should have looked into NAB laws in order to determine its scope in a way that no accused person feels humiliated during initial investigation,” he said.

Moreover, while talking about some particular incidents, the officer believes that “there have been cases where officers have been punished for procedural lapses when there wasn’t any financial loss incurred”. He also maintained that many officers now remain under constant sense of fear due to the NAB’s inability to protect the privacy of an accused persons. “You see every officer guilty or innocent once arrested has to face media trial. It tarnishes one’s dignity and self-respect,” he added.

“When a case is opened it is given so much media hype that afterward when there is nothing proven even then it becomes difficult for NAB to close … There is a Premium on closing any case whether corrupt or not,” he concluded.

While commenting on the procedural points, the officer said that “the investigators look at the transactions on files in isolation; there is no regard to context and circumstances in which any decision is taken. Therefore, even if someone just happens to mark a file with a single initials and doesn’t do anything substantive, still called and questioned.”

Read more: NAB lambasted Maryam Nawaz after Hidden Cellphone was Recovered from her Possession

Another senior civil servant, who is posted in Lahore, also shared the same opinion on the matter related to NAB. “If the government wants us to work confidently then allow us to think out of the box. Now are under pressure all the time. The NAB under PTI’s government is working mindlessly. Even the most honest officers are not safe now. They do not think of any other project due to the threat of being arrested and humiliated by the NAB,” he said.

The decision of the Prime Minister to ‘control’ the NAB to let the bureaucracy work without any sense of fear or persecution is a welcome move.