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Here’s Why NAB Is A Compromised Institution

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Hamza Azhar Salam writes about the arrest of Mir Shakilur Rehman by NAB and argues that it is a case of victimisation by the accountability body which has become a tool for intimidation and coercion.

The latest victim of NAB’s victimisation is Jang editor-in-chief Mir Shakilur Rahman who has been arrested despite fully cooperating in a 34-year-old property case. While the merits of the case are for the courts to decide, it seems highly likely that the media mogul has been targeted because of his organisation’s objective stance and neutral reporting.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed severe anger and fury towards Mir Shakilur Rehman multiple times. In a recent speech, the prime minister confessed that he has prepared a case against Mir Shakil ur Rehman and will use NAB to send him behind bars.r

The honourable prime minister feels no need to hide that NAB is a partisan organisation. First NAB was used to target political opponents and now it is being used to stifle freedom of the press.

The National Accountability Bureau was formed by former military dictator General Musharraf a few weeks after taking power and arresting the democratically arrested prime minister in 1999. While the declared objectives of the newly formed NAB were to weed out corruption, it was used to politically engineer the desired framework for the dictator who wanted to stay in power for a long time.

Musharraf used NAB to build cases against politicians who refused to comply. Without any evidence, many politicians, businessmen and others were kept in NAB custody unless they agreed to support the military regime.

Using a mix of intimidation, coercion and bribery, Musharraf was able to attract a sizeable number of politicians who quit the PML-N and PPP and joined the newly formed king’s party, PML-Q which ultimately formed the government in 2002.

The political reality of PML-Q is evident from the fact that it won only five National Assembly seats in the previous general elections and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi who presently serves as Speaker of the Punjab Assembly has recently claimed that elements of the establishment shifted members from PML-Q to the PTI. Regardless of the popularity of leaders or parties, institutions like NAB are used to deliver desired results regardless of the costs to the economy and the nation as a whole.

Since the last few years, a very clear pattern of NAB’s actions has emerged signalling that only opposition members who are vocal in their critique against the government are targeted. Despite the known corruption and financial malpractices of several key governmental figures, Chairman NAB Justice (R) Javed Iqbal has been unable to take any action.

Cabinet members like Faisal Vawda and Zulfi Bukhari have billions in benaami assets outside Pakistan but NAB doesn’t invest its time in investigating the people who are currently in charge. According to a groundbreaking story by Umar Cheema, Khusro Bakhtiyar’s case, who serves as the Minister for Food Security and whose assets have ballooned to over 100 billion rupees has been mysteriously shifted from NAB Multan to NAB Lahore without any given reason.

When the NAB Chairman suggested that his organisation would take action against corrupt elements of PTI including the Peshawar BRT and Malam Jabba case which have proven mass irregularities, he was silenced by those he wished to challenge. A video in which Chairman NAB was sexually coercing and blackmailing the wife of an accused in his posh NAB office was aired by News One, a media outlet owned by a good friend in need of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Critics believe that the timing of the video coincided with Chairman NAB’s statement on also investigating PTI is proof that the present government only wants to use NAB as a tool to target perceived opponents, not to ensure accountability across the board.

It is also surprising that no action has been taken against Chairman NAB despite video evidence of him misusing his office to sexually coerce the wife of an accused. In any functional country, such a person would have to resign after being exposed so blatantly but not in Pakistan. Here, a compromised man is required to run a compromised institution.

We have to open our eyes and abolish this compromised institution once and for all.

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