Bureaucrats Refusing To Work As NAB’s Sword Hangs Above Their Heads
ISLAMABAD: Senior and mid-career bureaucrats are unwilling to work in the current politico-legal dispensation and have either opted for leaves or low key positions to utilise to avoid using executive powers.
Several senior bureaucrats working in the federal, Punjab and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP) governments told Naya Daur that innovative and progressive thinking officers are finding it very hard to dispense their duties in the current set-up.
“The current political executives believe bureaucrats are corrupt. Now if you know that your boss has this opinion about you, you would feel discouraged to come up with innovative and progressive ideas,” a senior officer who works for the federal government said on the condition of anonymity. In fact the current set-up thrives on taking a very bleak view of the civilian bureaucracy, he added.
He said the universal law is that you are innocent till proven guilty but in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) law it is the other way round. The NAB process of arresting and keeping bureaucrats in custody is in itself a punishment as they know that cases cannot be proved, said another officer working as a consultant.
The officer said that NAB laws were draconian in every aspect. You know some officers are languishing in jails for almost two years and still no references have been filed against them, he added.
He further said that in some cases officers have filed petitions in the courts to direct NAB to file reference against them so that they can clear their names. “Where in the world does it happen that you put senior officers in jail for years and no charges are brought up against them?” he added.
It merits mention here that even in prospective mismanagement case, the anti-corruption watchdog launches inquiry against officers. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior officer who is currently on leave, said that if an officer signs a file and something goes wrong after years, an inquiry/reference would be filed against him/her. It happens mostly in Central Development Authority (CDA) and this is exactly what forced Brigadier Asad Munir to take his life, he added.
“Is it not unfair that in the murder case you get bail but not according to NAB law? What NAB does it that it creates a media hype with unsubstantiated figures and in the process when they cannot prove anything, they just sit on the files for years causing stress for the officers and their families,” said another senior officer working for the KP government.
He further said that NAB asks you questions and seeks record without context. “How can you bring all the record and prove yourself clean, say after 10 years?” he questioned.
It is important to mention here that a very competent officer in KP was not given an assignment for a year on the pretext that he was failing the provincial government.
“No officer can work in the current environment. You tell me how we can focus on current issues when every second day we receive letters from debt commission seeking details on cases that happened years ago?” a visibly upset federal government officer told Naya Daur.
We do not want that NAB should not punish the guilty civil servants but its law should be reformed so that no honest officers are targeted in the name of inquiries and reference, the officer added.
The author is an Islamabad-based freelance journalist and contributes to different national and international papers and journals.