A new security czar, retired brigadier Musaddiq Abbasi is all set to head the accountability drive after the stepping down of Accountability Adviser Shahzad Akbar and reports of poor scoring of the country in the corruption index. The accountability process in Pakistan has always been marred with controversies. Since the establishment of NAB in the Musharraf regime, the performance of the institution remained questionable. Arguably, there is poor track record of NAB in carrying out inquiries that have never been free from bias or political pressure. Questions are being raised about the partisan role of NAB in the accountability drive. It is a fact that NAB has been accused of following a “pick and choose” policy; this institution was used for political victimisation in the past.
Another challenge for new NAB chief will be the timely disposal of cases. Justice delayed is justice denied. In Pakistan, it has become a rare occurrence that an aggrieved person gets justice in his lifetime. NAB has a long way to go in removing all hurdles to timely dissemination of justice. NAB has always been considered to be under the influence of the rulers of the day. Reports clearly suggest that cases were not pursued or a deeper probe was dropped at the behest of high-ups. There is a general perception that NAB acts against only small fish. Unless and until some notable big names from all segments who are proved guilty of corruption are put behind bars, no one will be convinced of NAB’s impartiality.
To get away from its tainted past, the new NAB chief needs to take up mega corruption cases on a priority basis. While pursuing these cases, there should not be any discrimination. Another aspect of accountability in our country is the absence of across-the-board action. There are certain powerful institutions whose personnel remain unscathed. The concept that only civilians commit corruption while those holding office in the establishment and the judiciary are angels is neither reasonable nor should it be accepted without question. An accountability drive should also be launched against those corrupt persons who belong to the “powerful” institutions. Real accountability can be achieved through impartial action against all those who are found involved in corrupt practices without any discrimination.