Whither prosecution

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The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday suspended the life sentence handed to Hanif Abbasi in the ephedrine quota case. The PML-N leader was handed punishment whereas seven other accused were acquitted in the case.

The National Accountability Bureau is known for having a weak prosecution unit. That is obvious from Abbasi’s case as well as the previous such cases that it filed against the politicians.  A PML-N leader who had announced to contest elections against his disgruntled colleague Chaudhry Nisar was arrested weeks before the elections only to be released later on bail. The Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif was not only released on bail after over four months of incarceration but was also allowed to be off the no-fly list.

The NAB has filed another reference against Shehbaz and his two sons in Ramzan Sugar Millis case. There was also a ruckus outside the Sharif’s house in the Model Town last week to arrest his son but the two NAB attempts proved abortive. Interestingly, the NAB official, when asked by journalists for the charge sheet against the accused, was found fumbling as apparently he had no clear answer.

Yet again the prime minister was heard saying that fresh evidence of corruption by the Sharif family has been unearthed. That is perplexing, to say the least. Does anyone know what happened to the proverbial 300 thousand billion that the former prime minister allegedly siphoned off abroad?

At the risk of sounding trite, we have been saying that the watchdog needs a serious review of how it functions. In particular, its prosecution wing is abysmally weak and invariably cannot prove the charges it produces in the reference.

The NAB has taken numerous decisions that were later proven to be taken in haste and without much preparation. The Sindh High Court lately chastised the NAB for failing to properly prosecute the people. A significant amount of taxpayer’s money is being spent to keep the NAB well oiled, it should realise its responsibility so that the country could finally be set to the rights.