Chairman’s resignation and role of bureaucracy

Recently, the National Accountability Bureau Chairman Aftab Sultan tendered his resignation as the anti-graft watchdog chair. According to the bureaucrat, he always worked on merit in his professional life and was not ready to make or end corruption cases against anyone.

The bureaucracy has always been the backbone, the main driver of governance, an engine of growth as well as an agent of change in any nation in the world. The highly educated youth are picked through a stringent selection process and are trained adequately to accomplish specialized jobs in various fields of administration, accounting, finance, policing, as well as political, and foreign affairs. Bureaucratic services are normally governed by the constitution and legal frameworks designed to run the business of the state in an effective, beneficial, and impartial manner without jeopardizing the national interest, and integrity of the institution as well as of government executives. A professional bureaucrat not only serves his nation but also promotes social and professional ethics, and high moral values through his upright conduct and service delivery.

The bureaucracy in Pakistan played a lead role and attracted laudatory remarks over its adorable role in national planning, economic development, and ensuring the rule of the law in the early decades of independence of the country. Unfortunately, the bureaucracy could not maintain its professional standards and constitutional impartiality after the 1980s, because of increased political interference, nepotism, and corruption. Thus, current-day bureaucrats owe a clear political affiliation with one or the other political faction and many have sympathies with banned religious, ethnic, and sectarian groups instead of the state of Pakistan which raised them to this position. Terribly, the nation faces a scarcity of honest, professional, apolitical, and faithful government servants who believe in merit, service to the nation, and integrity of themselves and their institutions.

The former Chairman of NAB, Mr. Afrab Sultan was an honest bureaucrat who enjoys tremendous respect due to his professionalism and upright posture throughout his service in the past. His appointment in a highly sensitive and controversial position followed by sudden premature deposition on the issues relating to his official duties has caused serious concerns among the masses regarding the tall claims and conduct of the coalition government. Although, NAB Chairman is appointed by the Prime Minister in consultation with the opposition leader in the National Assembly, however, it is an independent position and legally not obliged to the Prime Minister.

Previously, there had been accusations against the NAB and its former Chairman Justice retired Javed Iqbal of political allegiance or alleged blackmail by the previous regime for misuse of the bureau for political victimization of the opponents. Meanwhile, the anti-graft watchdog also failed to implement its inquiries into successful prosecutions, so a majority of the accused got clean chits from the courts, and an embarrassment, and insult was earned by the authority. As reported, Mr. Sultan refused to budge the unlawful demands of the ruling elite and preferred to step down instead of misusing his authority for temporary gains. In fact, bureaucrats and government employees are not personal servants of the rulers and they must not demonstrate weakness in the face of unjust persuasion and intimidation from the politicians in power. Former Chairman NAB has set a heroic example for his colleagues and successors to uphold merit, rule of law, and nationalism which are the core values and mission of all government servants. Hopefully, the bureaucracy will play its role by adopting true professionalism and statesmanship in rescuing the nation through prevailing chaos and fragility.