News Analysis |
The Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice, headed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Javed Abbasi, has called the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman with complete record and data of the cases currently being investigated and disposed of by the bureau since its inception about 19 years ago, particularly in the last three years.
The NAB has been under severe criticism by the opposition for its alleged pro-government stance. The opposition leader, Mr. Shahbaz Sharif, has categorically stated in the National Assembly that the PTI and NAB are the two sides of the same coin. PM Imran Khan has made it clear several times that the NAB is an independent institution and the corrupt politicians and officials will not be spared at any cost. Cases are being investigated and filed by the watchdog which is worrisome for many politicians and bureaucrats in the country.
Among the 179 cases of mega corruption, 22 are related to financial corruption, 27 to housing societies and 71 pertained to corruption and misuse of authority by high-ranking public officials.
According to the agenda issued by the Senate Secretariat for the Nov 16 meeting of the standing committee, the NAB chairman is scheduled to brief the members on the “procedure for taking cognizance of cases, inquiry and prosecution, details of pending cases at various stages with current status and reasons for pendency in each case, details of recoveries made during the last three years, details of cases disposed of with percentages of acquittal and conviction, and mechanism regarding recommendations for placing a person on the Exit Control List with the details of such recommendations made in the last three years with the reasons thereof”.
The call by the standing committee to the watchdog chairman is being perceived by the analysts as a new tactic to pressurizer the NAB Chairman. Recently, DG NAB appeared on a TV channel and talked about some ongoing inquiries; the opposition stormed in the NA and moved a motion of privilege against the concerned officer. Since the Oppositions leader has been arrested by the NAB and former President Asif Ali Zardari is expected to be arrested very soon in an alleged corruption case, the watchdog is being continuously threatened by the opposition parties.
Read more: NAB vs corrupt elite: Who will prevail?
The government, on the other hand, is firm on its stance and not letting anyone compromise on the rule of law. PM Khan has repeatedly maintained that there is zero tolerance for corruption and misuse of authority. For many political commentators, it is going to very interesting to see how the NAB deals with the pressure being exerted by the opposition in the NA.
NAB after Powerful Ben in Pakistan
NAB is currently probing various cases of corruption and misuse of authority. The matter started when the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the NAB, to conclude all investigations into these mega cases by Dec 31, 2015 on July 7, 2015. The court also expressed displeasure over the cases pending for over a decade with no real progress. Later on, the NAB had sought an extension of three months.
PM Imran Khan has made it clear several times that the NAB is an independent institution and the corrupt politicians and officials will not be spared at any cost.
The SC, however, instructed to present a final report to the court by the termination of the requested extension on March 31, 2016. As the new Chairman assumed the office, the prosecution division of the bureau was immediately ordered to finalize all 179 mega corruption investigations as soon as possible.
It was revealed during a performance review meeting of NAB chaired by Justice Iqbal that investigations into 101 cases had been concluded, and references had been filed in the respective accountability courts, where the corruption cases would be adjudicated in accordance with the law. Moreover, currently, the NAB is working on 19 inquiries and 23 investigations, while 36 cases have already been disposed of.
The 179 mega corruption cases were lodged against the industrialists, traders, senior bureaucrats, and prominent politicians, including the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif (case under investigation), Punjab Chief Minster Shahbaz Sharif (case under investigation), ex-president Asif Ali Zardari (case under trial), former prime ministers Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf (cases under trial), former federal minister Dr Asim Hussain (a case under trial and two others under investigation), former prime minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain (case under investigation), ex-CM Punjab Chaudhry Pervez Elahi (case under investigation), former chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Amir Haider Khan Hoti (case under investigation), former chief minister of Balochistan Aslam Raisani, (inquiry under progress) former communication minister Arbab Jahangir and his wife Begum Asma Arbab (case under investigation), MPA Asif Nakai (case under investigation), MNA Syed Iftikhar Shah (case under investigation), former minister Murid Kazim (case under investigation), former chairmen of NICL Ayaz Khan and Javed Akram (case under trail) and former chairman of Evacuee Trust Property Asif Hashim (case under inquiry).
Interestingly, among the 179 cases of mega corruption, 22 are related to financial corruption, 27 to housing societies and 71 pertained to corruption and misuse of authority by high-ranking public officials.