ISLAMABAD: As the federal ruling party is increasingly finding itself in hot water due to the Panamagate scandal, the government is considering reviving the Ehtesab commission to replace the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Experts believe reviving the Ehtesab commission would enable the government to appoint officials through a pick-and-choose policy. This will also help close all files regarding corruption cases against the Sharif government.
In February, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had warned the top anti-corruption watchdog to act ‘responsibly’ and indicated that his administration was considering amending the law if NAB did not address his reservations.
NAB, which operates under the National Accountability Ordinance-1999, is tasked with eliminating corruption by adopting a holistic approach involving awareness, prevention and enforcement.
“NAB needs to take up cases only after thorough investigation. No one should be harassed without verification and solid proof,” Sharif had said while addressing a gathering of the PML-N’s local government’s representatives in Bahawalpur.
According to a document available with The Express Tribune, the matter of reviving Ehtesab commission was taken up during a Nov 2 cabinet meeting.
The cabinet was informed that the government was mandated to root out corruption, and for that purpose a draft bill for the establishment of Ehtesab Commission was also prepared, the document said, adding that in the wake of various challenges confronted in the efforts to combat corruption, it is high time the proposal was revived.
It has been decided that the proposal to establish Ehtesab commission may be shared with the cabinet, the document said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been unhappy with NAB for not closing the files in corruption cases launched against the Sharif family by the Musharraf regime. The PML-N’s Ehtesab Bureau was transformed into NAB by the then military government following the 1999 coup.
Former president Asif Zardari was also annoyed at NAB for not closing the file in corruption cases launched against him by the Ehtesab Bureau after the PML-N won the 1997 elections.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 26th, 2016.