Of an appointment
Yesterday the National Accountability Bureau made a controversial decision by appointing a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Naeem Bukhari as its special prosecutor.
It was immediately made clear that Bukhari was being hired for the cases against Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, the ex-principal staff officer of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif Fawad Hassan Fawad and former director general of the Lahore Development Authority Ahad Cheema. All the more reason for the opposition benches and the NAB bashers to be up in arms.
Interestingly, a NAB spokesperson revealed that Bukhari would neither draw any salary nor other perks and privileges. For a glib-talker who is known to have made a fortune out of this profession, this sounds too good to be true.
Bukhari had represented Prime Minister Imran Khan and Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid in the Panama Papers case against then PM Nawaz Sharif. He, a competent lawyer in his own right and a TV personality of yore, joined the PTI in June 2016.
The criticism on the induction of Bukhari into the already well-staffed team of prosecutors in NAB is valid. Why a lawyer with an open association with a ruling party is being hired to prosecute its political opponents?
The PTI that has been under fire already for being hand-in-glove with the anti-graft watchdog has not paid any heed to the criticism. The party members have been vociferously acting as a spokesperson for the NAB in cases against its political rivals – Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party.
In the fake accounts case against the latter, the whole coterie of ministers and advisors were at the forefront of revealing details about purported corruption that at times even the NAB itself was not aware of. The government ministers were found hitting the roof even when the NAB was making abortive attempts at arresting Hamza Shehbaz at his Lahore residence. Such an attitude belies claims made by the government quarters of being impartial.
This appointment alone if nothing else shall give the necessary material to the opposition parties to prove the ‘nexus’ between the government and the NAB which the former apparently is using to exact revenge upon its political opponents. The government would do well to prevail upon the NAB to rescind this decision in the interest of impartiality – even if for the appearances’ sake.