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January 21, 2021

A new dimension to accountability

Editorial

 
January 21, 2021

The question of accountability, and how it is conducted is a familiar one for most Pakistanis. The debate has been continuing for decades, and some argue this has indeed been the case since the early years of Pakistan's history. However, things have become more convoluted at the present time after the entry into the story of Broadsheet, a company allegedly hired by Pakistan and NAB to recover assets owned illegally by Pakistanis. After the Pakistan government failed to pay Broadsheet the dues it claims, the company owned by Kaveh Moussavi of Iran took the matter to a London court, which ordered huge damages against Pakistan, amounting to over $28 million. But while the Broadsheet affair continues, more issues of corruption have also emerged. In the first place, the opposition is asking why the PTI appears to be immune from accountability proceedings, while other parties are pressurised and harassed in various ways by NAB.

At the Tuesday PDM protest outside the offices of the Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad, there were demands that illegal money given to Imran Khan and the PTI from overseas sources be investigated. Since 2014, when the case was moved by Akbar Babar, a former member of the PTI, the opposition has demanded an audit of PTI accounts and details of the funding withheld from the State Bank. The PTI has twice moved the Islamabad High Court to stop the proceedings on the basis of secrecy of accounts, and on other occasions sought other reasons to bring the case to a halt.

If anything, the matter shows how difficult it is to deal with corruption and all that it involves in Pakistan. The foreign funding case has been going on for an inordinately long time, and has faced consistent accusations. We will need to see what happens next. The Broadsheet affair and the involvement of courts of law based outside the country has made things a little more difficult for the current government. It is now under more pressure than ever before to reveal its own sources of funding and explain them to the people of Pakistan. Certainly, funding needs to be transparent and open. The PTI must set the example by going through with this in the first place, so that the right pattern is set for all.