Why does Shahid Khaqan Abbasi want NAB to be abolished?

Former prime minister and senior PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Friday said that "the sooner Pakistan decides to do away with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the better".

Former prime minister and senior PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Friday said that “the sooner Pakistan decides to do away with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the better”. He was addressing a press conference along with senior PML-N leaders Ahsan Iqbal and Khurram Dastgir Khan in the federal capital on Friday.

Referring to the Broadsheet LLC scandal and criticizing the country’s accountability watchdog for the “corruption therein” Abbasi said that the sooner the state decides to abolish the bureau, the better it would be for the country.

“Many other people are going to be exposed in the Broadsheet scandal,” he said, adding that at present, Pakistan has the “most corrupt government in power”.

“Those appointed to track down corruption turned out to be the most corrupt in the country themselves,” he said. “Every job is being sold in the Punjab government today. How will corrupt people stop corruption?”

SC slams NAB in its judgment

In the detailed, 87-page ruling, penned by Justice Maqbool Baqar, the court 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 recognise 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.

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According to the judge, it was unfortunate that “even after 72 years since the creation of our country, and despite 47 years since the adoption of the Constitution, we have not been able to realize the spirit and essence of the ideals set out therein”.

“Nobody can dictate NAB”

In 2019, Justice (Retd) Javed Iqbal, Chairman NAB, made it clear 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.”

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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.

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