Pakistan

New NAB Chief

Oct 11, 2017
Due to the accountability cases going on against some of the most prominent politicians, the post of the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was one that all mainstream parties were closely following – and hoping to influence. The NAB chief serves for four years, and that means that if the person is in line with the party agenda; it is easier to have and input in the body’s functioning. As the term of the previous NAB chief attests – the post brings a host of challenges and controversies by default.
 
After several disagreements, Justice Javed Iqbal has been appointed the new chief. On Sunday – as his appointment was being announced – NAB officials took Captain (retired) Mohammad Safdar in custody as soon as he and Maryam Nawaz landed in Islamabad; prompting a showdown at the airport between Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) supporters and NAB. Justice Iqbal has become head of NAB in a critical period; he will have to hit the ground running.
 
He certainly has the ability to do so. In terms of his professional experience, he has served as the senior justice of Supreme Court from 2004 to 2011. He led the Abbottabad Commission, which was looking into the infamous Osama Bin Laden raid, and is also known for taking up high profile cases - such as the missing person’s case in 2012 and the suspension of former Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. He would need to bring all that legal acumen and discipline to bear for the challenges that await him.
 
He is faced with an unprecedented scenario; a file that the Supreme Court has instructed be wrapped up in six months, and thousands of others that also wait his department’s attention. Will he be equally aggressive for both? Will he investigate other politicians will off-shore companies and inexplicable wealth? What will he do if Sharif and co shot appearing at the accountability court?
 
Beyond Panama and its aftermath, the NAB too needs fixing. Justice Iqbal needs to fix the ridiculous and much maligned “voluntary return” and “amnesty” polices, which have allowed corrupt officials to go free for returning a fraction of the embezzled wealth. He needs to firmly try and convict officials from NAB that have been implicated in corrupt practices – as in Balochistan. If that was not enough, he also has to resolve the tiff over jurisdiction with the Sindh government and reassert the body’s presence in the province.
 
All eyes will be on Justice Javed Iqbal and how he handles the coming months, it is hoped that he rises to the challenge.
 
Nation, October 11, 2017

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