NAB Ordinance instrument of surrender to corruption
In the presence of parliament promulgation of ordinances is negation of much trumpeted democracy. There has been lot of hue and cry against NAB by public office holders and business community of their interference alleged to be involved in corruption. Politicians are having the same feeling about NAB. Special Assistant to PM on Accountability Shahzad Akbar says even if a reference had been filed but evidence could not be presented about corruption or taking commission then the accused would get relief from the courts. Question arises how a reference could be filed if there is no evidence? Collecting evidence after filing reference is ridiculous. That has been the problem with the NAB and getting bad name in spite of doing very good work. Corruption is not restricted to public office holders, businessman, bureaucrats it has roots in all segments of society. Nothing moves in any office until and unless palm is not greased. Bigger the case bigger the volume of corruption
No one would like being called by NAB on alleged corruption and malpractices. It is true everyone was ganged up against NAB as they would not compromise on corruption. They used it as a tool that they cannot work under fear from NAB and government should do something about it. After series of meetings by businessmen and bureaucrats with the Prime Minister they succeeded in convincing him about the excesses of NAB that directly affected their businesses that ultimately results in loss of revenue when country is bleeding under heavy domestic and foreign debt. Likewise growing fear in bureaucracy has resulted in delay in the approval of projects financed by the government. Prime Minister succumbed to pressure and his 22 years struggle against corruption fell flat due to NAB ordinance bringing changes suiting to certain category of people. This new ordinance has removed all type of hurdles and NAB has been forbidden to take any action against above categories by amending the NAB laws thus allowing them free hand to indulge in loot ,plunder evade taxes through manipulating rules and regulations without any fear of law and accountability. So much so pending cases, fresh cases probed stand transferred to courts. What a fantastic relief on the past sins and now they have official permission to do anything and play with the destiny of the country. This ordinance shall be remembered as instrument of surrender against corruption.
Let us briefly explain as to why National Accountability Bureau was established in 1999.It was established mainly to curb the corruption rampant in public office holders and government servants that ran in to billions of rupees. Naturally this corruption money is shared at all levels. Lot of cases of corruption were instituted against corrupt officers that ran into billions, when their cases were opened they retaliated and stopped working under the plea that they cannot work under fear and Damocles sword(NAB) hanging over their heads. During investigations and inquiries conducted massive mega corruption and tax evasion cases of businessman and politicians were detected and were under the pipelines awaiting investigations with one stroke of pen the NAB has been deprived to take any action due to this ordinance. This tantamount to legitimising corruption. It will be of interest to quote case of New Islamabad Airport in which former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry while annulling the appointment of Air Marshal Khalid Chaudhry has mentioned that there has been corruption of over Rs 42 Billion and directed FIA to conduct inquiry but nothing happened. The project was estimated to be with in Rs 36 Billion where as it escalated over Rs 73 Billion and finally completed over Rs 100 Billion
Let us be very clear that corruption starts from Competent Authority and ends up in the accounts department from where the cheques are released. The corruption starts from public office holders and passes through the hands of government servants who by virtue of their position and nuisance value make money. Some businessmen indulge in under invoicing, wrong declaration of goods, wrong quantities, of course with the connivance of custom authorities thus depriving state of legitimate revenue. It will be worthwhile to quote Prime Minister speech delivered recently in which he said there is collector customs who was making Rs 70 crore per day.It would have been more appropriate to give his name and the wealth amassed through illegal means. Question arises who offers bribe to public office holders and government servants? The answer is businessman and the contractors. Since amount runs in to millions and billions therefore such cases were dealt by NAB, under this ordinance NAB has been relieved of this task without realising that they have recovered over Rs 300 billion from all categories of people, giving them exemption through ordinance is not all understandable when Pakistan is facing financial crisis.
FBR is fountain head of corruption as it is the only department that collects revenue for national exchequer. Rules regulations are made amended suiting to individual convenience. NAB shall now try cases involving corruption cases over Rs 500 million, to escape the action by NAB the mega projects will be divided in many parts and kept under Rs 500 million to escape NAB. The fact remains the changes in NAB has not been welcomed by the nation and there is great disappointment and frustration amongst the supporters of government who were happy that IK was chasing the corrupt. Surrendering before corruption and being selective in corruption and accountability has lowered the graph of PTI government, anyone who has advised him to agree to changes in NAB laws is not sincere to party. Let new year brings some changes as promised, the year 2019 has brought no change except burdening the poor people with zero recovery of looted money. In the words of Rigoberta Menchu Noble Prize laureate ” Without strong watchdog institutions, impunity becomes the very foundation upon which systems of corruption are built. And if impunity is not demolished, all efforts to ring an end to corruption are in vain.”