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Sunday May 29, 2022

Harassment of bureaucracy, businessmen: Changes in NAB law under consideration

Sources said that some influential capitals of the Arab Islamic world expressed concerns that how could their businessmen invest in Pakistan in the presence of NAB, which has a long history of haunting and harassing businessmen, including foreign investors

May 11, 2022
The National Accountability Bureau logo. Photo: The News/File
The National Accountability Bureau logo. Photo: The News/File

ISLAMABAD: Major changes in the NAB law, based on the decisions and observations of superior judiciary, are under consideration amid reports that Pakistan has even been conveyed by some foreign capitals about their investors' reluctance to invest in Pakistan because of NAB.

Sources said that Pakistan has been conveyed at the highest levels by some influential capitals of the Arab Islamic world that how could their businessmen invest in Pakistan in the presence of NAB, which has a long history of haunting and harassing businessmen, including foreign investors. These sources said that one of the Arab rulers even took up this matter regarding NAB and its harassment with the government of Shehbaz Sharif. Earlier, another ruler of an Arab country had also complained to the government of Pakistan about NAB’s excesses when the brotherly country was approached to invest in Pakistan.

Internally, in almost every meeting that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif held with members of the civilian bureaucracy, he was told that the bureaucracy can’t work in the presence of NAB. The prime minister in his recent tweet after meeting bureaucrats said, “A team effort is a key to achieving goals. There can be no service delivery without an effective & proactive approach by civil servants. In my meeting today, I asked them to embody values of public service & go beyond the call of duty. We will also address their concerns about NAB.”

Shehbaz Sharif himself has been the victim of NAB, which during the last government made some cases against him and arrested him twice and kept him behind the bars for months. Another victim of NAB and federal minister for planning commission Ahsan Iqbal told The News that he had held at least four meetings with members of the bureaucracy and in each meeting the bureaucrats insisted that NAB is the biggest hurdle in decision making and performance of the civilian administration.

Interestingly, the former prime minister Imran Khan in recent interactions with the media has also started voicing his concern about the NAB’s working. He not only questioned the Bureau’s decision to initiate an inquiry against Farah Khan, a close friend of Bushra Bibi, but also admitted that during his government he wanted to bring experts from abroad but they were reluctant to join his government because of the fear of NAB.

During his government, Imran Khan a number of times had talked about the reservations of the bureaucracy and businessmen about the NAB harassment. He made some changes in the NAB law through presidential ordinance but because of NAB cases and several arrests of the-then opposition leaders Khan did not reform the anti-corruption body to check its massive misuse of power.

Although, NAB insists that it has allowed the inquiry against Farah Khan because her husband was holding a local government office in the late 90s, the PTI chairman pointed out that Farah Bibi had married the person years after he had left the public office.

Sources in the present government said that the Shehbaz Sharif regime has nothing to do with Farah Khan’s inquiry. It is said that it’s NAB’s own initiative. These sources instead said that the government is considering amending the NAB law to check the Bureau’s misuse of power and to save the members of bureaucracy as well as businessmen from the Bureau’s harassment.

Ahsan Iqbal said that the changes in the NAB law being considered are primarily focused on the decisions and observations of the superior judiciary. Some of the leading ruling coalition political parties were previously advocating to abolish the NAB for hurting the country instead of doing any good. However, now the government is only considering changes in the NAB law, fearing Imran Khan-led PTI’s reaction if the Bureau is abolished.

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