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Steps against corruption

Steps against corruption

At a time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is holding power show on Lahore-Rawalpindi road, the National Accountability Bureau has dropped investigations into 14 high profile cases. Earlier, NAB had informed the Supreme Court that it was investigating into 175 mega corruption cases which also involved top public representatives of the country. However, the new understanding will vindicate them of corruption charges. NAB and several other government departments were set up at the federal and provincial levels to fight corruption, but during the course of time, they themselves became white elephants. The agencies, which were mandated to curb corruption, started using and misusing all their discretionary powers not only to witch-hunt the political opponents but blackmail bureaucrats, businessmen and individuals whosoever came across them. On another note, taking advantage of a section of the anti-corruption law, NAB struck various out of court settlements with the suspects and let them walk free despite they had engorged billions of rupees national wealth. NAB has already dropped cases against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Aftab Sherpao, former ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani, former PPP minister and current PTI leader Firdous Ashiq Awan and Mehrangate-linked Younis Habib.

Meanwhile, the government has brought a new procedure to act against suspects within a specified timeframe. It fixed a ten-month deadline to convert complaint against a suspect into a reference or drop it in the first place for lack of evidence. The NAB officials were allowed two months to complete the verification process of a complaint. In case a complaint holds grounds, it would be converted into inquiry to be completed in four months. In the case of inadequate incrementing evidence, the inquiry would be dropped, but in practical terms NAB failed to meet most of deadlines in high profile cases.

On the orders from the Supreme Court, NAB is now all set to file references against Mr Sharif, three of his children, son-in-law, as well Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. The references would be filed in Rawalpindi office of the bureau, covering alleged corruption in setting up offshore companies, holding properties worth billions of rupees beyond their sources of income and establishing businesses at home and abroad in violation of the country’s laws. Had the premier accountability agency worked honestly in the first place, there would have been significant reduction in corruption cases. However, sooner or later, every corrupt will have to face the due course of law.