As many as 62 investigators from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) have been removed from high-profile corruption cases, allegedly due to their integrity and unwillingness to follow unlawful orders, sources familiar with the matter told The Express Tribune. Most of the officers have been transferred to other provinces.
This is the first time in the 12-year existence of the country’s top anti-graft watchdog that 62 officers —37 deputy directors and 25 assistant directors — have been transferred without being given any reasons in their notifications.
“Officers from NAB Punjab, Sindh and Rawalpindi shall actualise their posting/transfer within 10 days and officers of the NAB Khyber-Pakhtukhawa and Balochistan shall actualise their posting/transfer within 20 days. Director generals shall ensure that all officers are relieved in time. This issue is with the approval of the competent authority,” stated the two-page notification obtained by The Express Tribune.
Most of the high-profile investigations have been conducted by the NAB Punjab chapter, including the Haris Steel Mills scam, the Double Shah scandal, the Pakistan Railways scandal, and the hajj corruption scandal, among many cases that are still pending.
Instead of hiring more investigators, the NAB headquarters has transferred 22 officers from Punjab.
According to sources, the officers had refused to obey unlawful orders of superiors, particularly the NAB deputy chairman, who despite retiring in 2011, is still in office.
The purpose of this large-scale reshuffle is to ensure results according to the wishes of the present regime, as the process of recruitment of new staff is said to be on a political basis, sources added.
After being served notices, some officers told The Express Tribune that they sent representations to the chairman on Friday, while the others plan on doing so on Monday and have also contacted lawyers to challenge before the Supreme Court what they called ‘politically-motivated’ and ‘unjustified’ orders.
They said that following the orders, significant resentment spread among the affected officers, who are ready to expose the ‘dirty faces’ of NAB authorities to the media as well as before the Supreme Court.
The disgruntled officers alleged that under the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government, NAB is nearly dysfunctional since its budget was cut and anti-corruption powers were clipped. They added that the government did not appoint a Prosecutor General Accountability (PGA) or a chairman for a long time to purposely obstruct the affairs of NAB.
They demanded the chief justice of Pakistan take a suo motu notice on the matter immediately.
Despite repeated attempts, the NAB chairman could not be contacted.
However, NAB officials told The Express Tribune, on condition of anonymity, that the reshuffle and transfers are a routine practice and that the inquiries and investigations would not be affected as substitutes have been provided.
They added that the process of recruitment of 317 more officers from grade 16 to grade 21 will be initiated from March 15, 2012 and completed by June.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2012.