The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has arrested Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shahbaz Sharif in the Rs14 billion Ashiyana-i-Iqbal housing project scam, causing a blow to the party ahead of by-elections. Over the last few months NAB has been under mounting pressure from the SC for its failure to deliver. The apex court had been expressing dissatisfaction with NAB’s performance in various cases. Last month it threw out as ‘frivolous’ NAB’s petition which challenged the Islamabad High Court’s decision to hear an appeal by the Sharif family against the Avenfield verdict. The apex court fined the anti-graft watchdog Rs20,000. Last week the SC wondered if there was a single case that NAB had wound up.
The IHC granted bail to Nawz Sharif, Maryam and Safdar on the ground that the conviction and sentences handed to the former prime minister and others in the Avenfield case “may not be ultimately sustainable”. In other words, the judgment by the accountability court might not stand. A judgment based on inadequate evidence provided by NAB can do irreparable loss to the reputation of a major political leader besides sending him to jail. Even if the faulty judgment is ultimately turned down by a higher court, the damage cannot be undone. Yes, those who have done wrong should be put behind the bars, but a solid case should be made as well. Nonetheless, this is Pakistan and most of high-level dealings are done behind closed doors, so no one can really comment on what really happened in the case.
However, the reckless way the NAB has at times moved against the PML-N has been considered an outcome of malice by many. In May NAB turned itself into a laughing stock when it announced at a press conference that DG NAB had ordered a probe against Nawaz Sharif for laundering $4.9 billion to India. The enquiry was based on a column published in a little known paper three months back. Such an allegation sounds absurd on its face only. However, NAB launched a probe regarding the money laundry allegations against Nawaz Sharif. Later, the World Bank issued a statement in this regard hours after the Nation Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) announced to start investigate the money laundering of Nawaz. World Bank rejected the rumors that it’s Remittances and Migration Report of 2016 leveled $4.9 billion money laundering accusation against the former premier. Hence, the local media made fun of the probe. Questions were raised about motives behind the enquiry. In case the NAB fails to prove the case against Shehbaz Sharif its credibility would nosedive. This means that people shouldn’t really get their hopes high regarding this arrest. NAB has a tendency of promising a lot and then failing to deliver. Yet, culprits that have done wrong to the country should face the music.