NAB laws, and myth of Mahmood-o-Ayaz

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday sent back-references against politicians to Accountability Courts after the Supreme Court struck down some sections of the amendments made to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) by the PDM coalition government last year. Previously, the PTI Chairman Iman Khan filed a petition in the apex court against the amendments introduced by the coalition partners to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), which provided significant relief to various senior politicians including former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Yousuf Raza Gilani, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, former president Asif Zardari and former finance minister Ishaq Dar whom under trails cases were withdrawn by the NAB authorities few months back.

The accountability of public office holders and government officials is of great importance for the promotion of democracy and consolidation of political, social and economic gains in any society. The successive governments had made recurrent attempts to curb corruption and promote a responsive and transparent accountability system in the country. For the first time in the country’s history, former President General Pervaiz Musharraf introduced the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), which calls for nationwide accountability of public office holders, politicians, government servants and business leaders and common citizens presumably involved in malpractices and damage to the national exchequer. After approval of the legal code, the powerful anti-corruption watchdog launched a nationwide accountability campaign and put a large number of people spent years in prison over mere allegations of corruption and misconduct.

Things moved on with staunch criticism of NAB’s aggressive investigations and pretrial and unceasing arrests of accused that mostly ended up in plea-bargains or release of the individuals because of faulty investigations and insufficient evidence of crimes. Previously, the PTI government exempted businessmen and bureaucrats from NAB’s trail to encourage trade and motivate public employees on service delivery. The PDM coalition government brought some relaxation in NAB’s laws in a bid to extend some relief to senior politicians, which was challenged by the PTI Chairman when he was not well versed with the highhandedness of wardens and untidy living conditions in prison. The reversal of NAB amendments had brought a majority of the past rulers in a single rank and one file. As of now, Sharif to Makhdoom and Zardari to Niazi all have to equally face court hearings and summary trials. The similarity of pain might prompt some tolerance and accord among the worst foes and that phenomenon can bring some positivity in national politics in the future.