The first parliamentary accountability of the
National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was launched in the National
Assembly on the first day of its current session. Members from both
the ruling party and the opposition spear headed an onslaught
demanding the political government to tell the people of Pakistan who
were more corrupt — politicians or military and civil officers.
Coincidentally it happened only a week after the
Chairman NAB Lt. Gen. Muneer Hafiz released the new National
Anti-corruption Strategy (NACS) for dealing with the pervasive
corruption from our society in a more effective way.
The opportunity was provided for the unrelenting
attack from the politician on a written answer received from the NAB
to a question asked by PPPP MNA Syed Naveed Qamar revealing that a
massive sum of Rs.1.5 billion was recovered from officers of armed
forces and civil bureaucrats while only Rs.266 million were recovered
from the politicians which was doubbed by the Military rulers as the
most corrupt class.
The enthusiastic opposition benches could not
believe, after going through the official papers, that they were not
as corrupt as they were painted by the previous military government
and the "honour" of this lies with some one else. They
jointly shouted in the House and demanded of the chairman NAB to step
PPPP MNA Syed Naveed Qamar had earlier asked for
details of the amount deposited in the Consolidated Fund or the Public
Accounts of the Federation, recovered by the NAB as a result of plea
bargains or court recoveries from politicians, military officials,
bureaucrats and others.
The NA was informed that a total of Rs.2.5 billion
had been recovered from the accused and Rs.2.3 billion transferred to
the AGPR, Rs.34 million to CBR, Broadsheet (legal fee) Rs.90 million,
WWF 38 million, Co-operatives Rs.8 million, NAB Misce A/c No.209-C 07
The NA was also informed that as far as the amount
recovered as a result of plea bargain/voluntary payments by the
accused was concerned, the politicians returned Rs.269 million,
military officials Rs.451 million, bureaucrats Rs.1.05 billion, and
other Rs.771 million.
Upon this Naveed Qamar stood up and told the House
that the politicians had been wronged during the three years military
regime as they were painted as the most corrupt lot in the country,
but the official figures produced by none else than the NAB clearly
proves that the civil and military bureaucracy was the most corrupt in
He said according to theses figures out of total
amount Rs.1.5 billion recovered after plea bargain, only 10 per cent
of the amount was recovered from the politicians, which "only
proves that they were not as corrupt as people were made to believe by
the military rulers."
Pakhtoon nationalist Mahmood Khan Achakzai also
lashed out at the NAB saying that since the sacking of a
constitutional government of Nawaz Sharif on October 12, 1999, the
entire nation was constantly told that politicians were the most
corrupt class in the country. And for this purpose, he said, the
national media was used by the military authority to convince the
people that politicians were the greatest sinners. But, he said, the
NAB list has now proved that the politicians were not corrupt.
Earlier, the Chairman NAB also came under fire when
PPPP members protested against the holding of press conference by Lt.
General Muneer Hafiz against Benazir Bhutto and her husband. Naheed
Khan was of the view that the Chairman NAB had no authority to hold a
press conference on his own to propagate against a party leader like
Benazir Bhutto. She was of the view that the Chairman NAB had
committed contempt of court as the case about which he spoke to the
press was in a court of law.
She sought the resignation of the NAB Chairman and
appointment of a judge in his place. PML(N) parliamentary leader in
the house, Javed Hashmi pointed out that in the light of Supreme Court
decision, only a judge could be appointed Chairman of the NAB.
Responding to a supplementary question, Minister
In-charge PM Secretariat Raza Hayat Hirraj said, "there is no
denying the fact that less amount had been recovered from politicians
than from any other despite severe allegations and defamation".
He, however, said the Jamali government was not answerable for
whatever had happened prior to their assumption of office. "We
cannot apologies for something we never did", he remarked. The
minister in-charge, however, categorically clarified and stated,
"the politicians have not looted the country rather they have
Still, he could elude the embarrassment by
admitting a simple fact. That is, National Accountability Bureau is
beyond the administrative control of the civilian façade, erected
through election of October 2002. Its head is a serving general in
uniform, who is only answerable to General Musharraf. The leader of
our "sovereign parliament", Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, had
no control over him. It rather was generous of the NAB to furnish
answers to questions, legislators had put regarding its function.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) with its
enhanced powers has come up with a new National Anti-corruption
Strategy, (NACS) and proposes to focus on the basic causes of
corruption. Real political will is needed to make a success of the
Strategy, says Lt. Gen. Muneer Hafeez, Chairman of NAB, launching a
new awareness campaign to make the people familiar with the strategy
and seeking their cooperation.
To make the NACS more popular and less
controversial it is essential that no exception is made in this area,
whether in terms of sections of people in the government or
individuals. When earlier the armed forces and the judiciary were
exempted from the purview of the NAB there were protests in the
country and widespread dissatisfaction. And now that formal army rule
has ended that exemption has become all the more untenable. And the
judges who judge all others should not hesitate to be judged when
their turn comes, so to keep their ranks clean and their performance
There cannot be exceptions in respect of
politicians either Gen. Hafeez says politicians cannot be barred from
contesting elections until they are convicted of charges against them.
He may be right. But the issue here is not only letting them contest
the elections but also making them ministers, including the key
portfolio of interior ministry.
If the rule of laws has to be universal there can
be no exceptions in terms of groups or individuals, however, useful or
expedient they are to the ruling system.
The new strategy was drafted as early as last
February and has since then been fine-tuned. It has since then
received the approval of the President and the Prime Minister and is
now to be forwarded to the federal and provincial cabinets, says Gen.
Hafeez. That is the small part of the story of part one of the
campaign what matters is its full and sustained implementation. And
for that real political will is needed.
The opposition parties in the National Assembly,
Senate and Provincial Assemblies will be in favour of strong action
against corruption. But will the ruling coalition led by the PML (Q)
be in favour of such strong action because of the compromises and
clandestine deals it has been accused of indulging in. And will the
PML (Q) leaders be firm in taking action against senior corrupt