POLITICS & POLICY

NAB UNDER FIRE

COLUMN

FOR THE RECORD

SOCIETY

A CONVOCATION TO REMEMBER

 
NAB UNDER FIRE
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From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI, Islamabad
Dec 20 - 26, 2004
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Throughout the first week of the 18th session of the Senate, the National Accountability Bureau, its performance and its selective approach remained under fire as the senators from both sides of the political divide sharply criticized the working of the organization. The bitter attacks from both sides reached the culmination when the acting Chairman Senate Khalilur Rehman admitted a point of privilege against NAB and referred it to the Privilege Committee of the house for decision.

In the Privilege motion, which was jointly moved by 15 Senators, NAB has been accused of placing wrong information regarding 440 days detention of Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed who, is also the Secretary General of ruling Pakistan Muslim League after the military takeover in October 1999 on the charges of misuse of authority. Chairman NAB Lt. Gen. Munir Hafeez has been directed to appear before Senate Privilege Committee on November 22 for allegedly giving wrong information to the Senate. He is to appear before the committee along with official documents, inquiry reports and files containing the secret record of investigation against the ruling party Secretary General.

This will be for the fist time since the constitution of NAB in November 1999 that its chief, a serving Lt. General and other top bosses would appear before any parliamentary committee to face questioning by parliamentarians. The NAB, during the last 5 years, has detained and presented 170 politicians and it claimed to have recover Rs. 431 million from some of them as a result of plea bargains. Some Senators who remained in the custody of NAB are also members of the Privilege Committee that would question the NAB chairman. Privilege Committee exercise judicial power and is competent to summon even the biggest functionary of the state. In the Parliamentary history of sub continent, prominent politicians including former Indian Prime Minister, Mrs Indra Gandhi, former Pakistan's Prime Minister Mrs. Benazir Bhutto & Ex-President Farooq Leghari had been summoned by Privilege Committee of the Parliament in both Pakistan and India.

It all started with a report published in The News, Islamabad putting Senators Mushahid Hussain name in the list of ruling party leaders who were investigated against by the NAB. The story was based on a written answer to a question by a senator in which NAB had informed the Senate that Senator Mushahid Hussain was included against persons probed under allegation of "misuse of authority. After many months of probing nothing was, however, found against him and the case against him was closed by the NAB on May 2002. It is almost the same time when Information Minister in Nawaz Sharif Government Mushahid Hussain Syed joined the ruling of Q Muslim League and later elected as senator on its ticket. Mr. Mushahid Hussain, however, maintained that it was wrong information, as he was never investigated against him by the NAB or any other agency. Secretary General ruling PML party insisted that he was illegally detained. He contended that his wife had challenged his illegal detention in the Lahore High Court and the then Prosecutor General of NAB, Farooq Adam Khan had deposed before justice Nawaz Abbasi that NAB had no case against him.

The accountability outfits of this "good governance" have to have some funny sides as well. More than a score of sitting legislators, for example, had been arrested, probed and tried under serious charges of corruption by the military government, after it took over five years ago. Yet their prosecution was put on a slow track, if they agreed to sit with the ruling alliance in our Parliament in the end. Some of them were even inducted as the federal and state ministers with all the three prime ministers; launched, removed and placed since the restoration of quasi-democracy in this country through clinically managed elections of October 2002. In short, your integrity is tainted the movement accountability boys begin visiting you. And your sitting with the ruling party after such visits loudly suggests some "compromise".

 

 

In a written reply to the question of PPP Senators Farhatullah Babar, the NAB had informed that it had closed cases against Federal Minister for Industries and Production Jhangir Khan Tareen and PML Secretary General Mushahid Hussain. Minister for Water and Power Liaqat Ali Jatoi has also been cleared in two cases while one case against him is still to be decided. NAB in its report disclosed that besides Liaqat Ali Jatoi, two federal ministers, one chairman standing committee and former political advisor to former PM Jamali were still facing cases. They are Minister for Interior Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, Minister for Kashmir and Northern Affairs Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Local Government and Rural Development Sarwar Khan Kakar and the former advisor to former Prime Minister Jamali Rana Nazir Ahmed.

In reply to another question it was confirmed by the Prime Minister Secretariat that both Civil and Military Bureaucracy had committed more financial corruption then politician in Pakistan. PM Secretariat revealed that NAB had recovered Rs. 2 billion from corrupt civil and military bureaucracy against just 431 million from politicians. The upper house erupted in protest when it was disclosed that the NAB had detained, probed, and jailed 170 politicians in last five years against only 12 military officers.

The house was also informed by PM Secretariat that the amount recovered from three army men arrested on account of corruption, including Admiral Mansoor, was much higher than that recovered from all the politicians, who entered into plea bargains with the NAB. The house echoed with the slogans of shame, shame when the prime minister secretariat submitted a report of the NAB revealing that the politicians had done less corruption than the civil and military bureaucracy.

The opposition senators delivered hard-hitting speeches against the NAB when they drew a comparison between the amounts recovered from the civil military bureaucracy and the politicians. Opposition senator Sana Baloch said the Musharraf government had spent a massive sum of taxpayer's money on character assassination of politicians during the last five years of military rule. But, now the PM secretariat itself has admitted on the floor of the house that the civil military bureaucracy was more corrupt than the politicians and other institutions. He said the amount recovered from politicians was far less than the amount spent on character assassination of the politicians.