PTI’s promise of across the board accountability and making NAB independent stands broken


The Promise

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran repeatedly promised that after coming to power, fair and across-the-board accountability would be the most important salient feature of his government’s agenda and he would ensure across the board accountability without showing any leniency and would also make the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) a completely independent institution.

Background

Before coming to power, thee PTI always stressed that the biggest menace faced by Pakistan was none other than corruption and flawed accountability system and that after coming to power it would overhaul accountability and make NAB an independent body free from any sort of political pressures because in the past we have seen NAB and accountability was only used as a tool for political victimisation.

Promise Tracking

Since the PTI government gained power, NAB arrested leading political figures like former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, former federal minister for railways Khawaja Saad Rafique, and his younger brother former health minister Punjab Khawaja Salman Rafique. So, somewhat Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah is justified in criticising the raid at Speaker Sindh Assembly Agha Siraj Durrani’s house after he was arrested at a hotel in Islamabad a few days back.

In such circumstances, one cannot blame the opposition for continuously blaming the ruling PTI government in the centre for using the accountability watchdog as a tool for political victimisation just like the 90s.

Although, it also cannot be ruled out that their own leader Aleem Khan was also arrested by NAB, the gross imbalance in numbers of arrests of opposition and treasury benches is quite apparent.

Interior Minister Pervez Khattak, Speaker Punjab Assembly Pervaiz Elahi and Chief Minister Mehmood Khan are not being arrested by NAB despite multiple probes against them.

PTI’s viewpoint

Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan told Truth Tracker that both the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan People’s Party are ‘maligning’ NAB to go scot-free from accountability.

“As promised, we made the corruption watchdog completely independent body which is working freely to curb corruption in the country,” said Mr Chohan.

The information minister added that NAB was not being used for political victimisation. “We believe in across the board accountability and we are ensuring it,” he added.

Mr Chohan added the PTI government was not interfering in the matters of NAB as they could arrest anyone they wanted even from the treasury benches.

Talking to Truth Tracker, Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that unfortunately in our country accountability is labelled as political victimisation. “Political victimisation is not PTI’s objective,” said Mr Qureshi.

The foreign minister added that the people of the entire country wanted the accountability process to move in a transparent manner and that’s why they elected us because they believe that we could ensure across the board accountability.

Although Mr Qureshi admitted that in the past institutions were used for political victimisation. “The state institutions were always used for political victimisation in the past but now we are here to change this culture,” Mr Qureshi said in a confident tone.

Opposition’s opinion

PPP leader Murtaza Wahab while speaking to Truth Tracker said that it was for the first time in the history of Pakistan that a sitting speaker of a provincial assembly has been arrested by NAB.

“I strongly condemn the arrest of Agha Siraj Durrani. Are there two different laws in Pakistan?” he asked.

Mr Wahab added that many politicians from treasury benches, including Speaker of the Punjab Assembly Pervaiz Elahi, Federal Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mehmood Khan are facing NAB inquires but they are treated in completely different way.

“Why these leaders are not arrested,” he asked.

Mr Wahab said that he is not against accountability but it should be carried out across the board without any discrimination.

To a question that if the government is not carrying out across the board accountability, how come Aleem Khan was arrested, senior PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah replied that if they (NAB) are going to arrest 50 people from the opposition they have to arrest at least five from the government.

“So, that it gives the impression that PTI is carrying out across the board accountability and NAB is completely independent which in reality is nothing more than eyewash,” he said.

Independent viewpoint

Talking to Truth Tracker, senior journalist and political analyst Nazir Leghari said that since the day the PTI has been in power, NAB’s role has been questioned time and again. Its historic inefficiencies and alleged political bias has been a subject of public debate. Instead of improving its performance and devising rules whereby it appears as a neutral, capable public body, NAB perhaps unwittingly is turning into an instrument of political engineering.

Ruling

After, taking into account the statements of leaders from treasury benches as well as the leaders from the opposition and independent analyst, Truth Tracker rules that PTI led federal government has failed to fulfill its promise of ensuring across the board accountability and making NAB an independent institution.

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