After a period of what seemed like absolute dormancy, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has suddenly sprung into action initiating an inquiry against the Sharif brothers in a money laundering case, worth $32 million, dating back to the 1990s. The brothers will also be investigated for a case in which they allegedly took bank loans worth some Rs4.9 billion for the same period. This is not the only spurt of hyperactivity from the Bureau. After a meeting with General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, NAB Chief Admiral (Retd) Fasih Bokhari has ordered a probe into the National Logistic Cell (NLC) scandal, while simultaneously setting up investigation charges against two sitting federal ministers from Balochistan.
No doubt, it is good news that corruption, which has plagued deep into the system, is finally being investigated. However, one wonders why these cases were not taken up earlier, especially since the Bureau was aware of their existence. Given the present strained relations between the PPP and the PML-N, the latter will certainly sound out the familiar cry of victimisation, which has been heard multiple times before; both in the context of NAB and other accountability bodies, such as the Ehtehsab Bureau which ran under the Sharif brothers. In fact, this has been an important reason why previous attempts to investigate corruption cases have failed repeatedly and as a result, accountability bodies have earned little or no credibility.
Comments made by President Asif Ali Zardari to practise total impartiality in the NLC scandal, further strengthens belief that this will most likely not be the case this time around. This is rather unfortunate since there is no denying that we need accountability. Corruption and money laundering by officials has corroded the system and brought our nation on the brink of collapse. We also need able bodies that can stand above politics and victimisation. This is where we have failed repeatedly on previous occasions. The sudden spurt of activity by NAB is already under scrutiny. For this reason it is vital that it be carried out in a manner which is transparent and impartial so there is no finger-pointing.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2012.
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