Home Views & Opinions Reforming or abolishing NAB laws

Reforming or abolishing NAB laws

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NAB has been under severe attack in recent past when they filed references against untouchables. NAB’s chairman and its officers were openly insulted, rebuked and threatened and at times were beaten by the crowd that usually accompanies the alleged accused. NAB started its journey from Ehtsab Cell (EC) that was established by Caretaker Prime Minister Maria Khalid in 1996 after the dismissal of Benazir Bhutto government by violating article 224 of the constitution, when his attention was drawn towards this violation he replied that accountability is more important than elections, he was in a way justified. When PML N came to power in 1997 instead of revoking it, was used as a tool of torture against Benazir Bhutto, Nusrat Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari by famous character Saifur Rahman a close friend of Nawaz Sharif. However due to differences between army and Nawaz Sharif that eventually led to the takeover by Gen Musharraf in Oct 1999 and Saifur Rahman was arrested on charges of using EC for party purposes.
National Accountability Ordinance was issued replacing EC in to National Accountability Bureau with a provision to tackle big Loan defaulters. This had become a practice to get huge loans due to political pressure and later get these loans written off. According to State Bank report loans worth more than 54 billion were written off from 1991 to 2009. The loan defaulters were politicians, landlords and business groups. Since they protect each other’s interest therefore we find massive corruption in Pakistan at top level. It will be interesting to note that this law was made by Gen Musharraf but Nawaz Sharif in spite of huge majority did not abolish it except few amendments in clauses suiting to own convenience. All subsequent governments kept NAB intact to use it against their opponents.
Whosoever was the Chairman NAB they all worked hard and efforts of NAB in recovering the looted money of poor nation. The NAB Chairman Justice Retd Javed Iqbal said in a statement that they had filed 3484 corruption references in various accountability courts, besides depositing Rs 303.767 billion in national exchequer till Jan 31, 2019.This can be termed as most outstanding performance by NAB. Looters say ‘HAMARAY HAATH SAAF HAIN’. Instead strengthening NAB laws were changed. Any law that is tailor made to include and exclude clauses to benefit any individual does not reflect on the institution but the makers. Selective application of law is otherwise against natural justice. As per press reports government and opposition is working on proposals to change NAB Laws. This is typical of Pakistan politics, it appears corruption is no more priority with IK, unfortunately his main slogan has been fighting against corruption and zero tolerance it is clear that he is bowing down to pressures and is ready to amend the NAB laws. What was needed that laws should have been further tightened and instead of changing NAB laws these should have been made stricter and added new clauses to tighten the neck of corrupt, but it appears to be a distant dream. The amendments sought include change in definition of public office holder, private person, exemption to bank defaulters, cases less than 500 m to be removed from NAB’s review, bureau’s arrest powers to be abolished, plea bargain only with court approval, NAB chairman appointment by parliamentary body, compensation for accused if acquitted, NAB chairman should not be judge, no ECL, no plea bargain, probe duration be fixed. With all these amendments is there any need of NAB? If above amendments are approved it shall tantamount to legalizing loot and plunder by politicians and office holders. Let us not make joke of NAB. In fact some amendments that have been overlooked may also be included. The accused will be provided full protocol keeping in view his status, moved in air conditioned vehicle, made to rest in air conditioned room with all the facilities, doctor’s presence while appearing as anything can happen, advance booking in 5 star hospital for checkups if needed, provision of family members to accompany him, provision of food from home, immediate arrangements of bail, facility to go abroad for better treatment, detention for investigation not more than 4 hours, facility of personal staff, permission for allowing minimum 500 workers while appearing in the court.
Let us briefly go through how NAB deals the case and why it takes so long to punish the culprit. 1. Anyone can make complaint to NAB about corruption but with proper evidence proof. 2. Accusations are consolidated by NAB 3.NAB collects evidence.4. Reference is filed after approval 5.Political forces start making noise.6.Government and NAB criticized.7. Hearing starts 8. Adjournments come in to action, date after date 9.Case finalized.10. Judgement Reserved time of announcement given but not adhered. 11. Punishment awarded. 12. Judges, Courts, NAB, Chairman NAB criticized. 13. Revision petition filed 14. Punishment suspended 15. Bail granted.16. Judges, Courts are praised for being very fair. 17. Heart problem develops, seriousness of disease is reported 18.Doctor’s Board Constituted. 18. Board declares the accused is fit.19. Case again resumed 20. NAB is accused being unfair. Result of whole exercise zero, recovery of money is zero. There is need to change this procedure and make it short so that it serves as deterrent.
Proposed procedure. Complaint received with evidence, call the accused show him the details of corruption gathered. If he denies, he should surrender the properties and cash to state in writing stating that these properties and money does not belong to him. After obtaining certificate he should be allowed to go. News should be flashed in the media that so and so was taken in to custody that owned so many properties and has denied therefore the government has taken possession of all such properties.
With all that procedure explained above we have to take a decision whether we need reforms or abolishment of NAB laws, but let us not make fun of laws.