ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal on Wednesday urged the bureaucracy to work under the purview of the Constitution, rules and regulations.
“NAB would not call any bureaucrat who works by the book and a transparent system must be devised so that the bureau could not interfere,” he said while addressing dozens of federal secretaries at a meeting held in the cabinet division.
Justice Iqbal said: “It is a propaganda that the bureaucracy has stopped working due to fear of NAB whereas cases against the bureaucracy are very few as compared to others.”
Says bureau’s working could be improved with the help of bureaucracy
NAB is also being accused of hampering development projects by harassing contractors as almost all mega projects started by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government have come to a halt.
“Government institutions must follow PPRA rules. A contractor must answer about his contract to NAB,” the chairman said.
Justice Iqbal said the bureaucracy was the backbone of the country owing to its vital role in the progress and prosperity of Pakistan. “I am well-versed with the problems being confronted by the secretaries as I served the country in various capacities,” he added.
He said NAB was established in 1999 and he had been working as its chairman for the past 13 months. “I am doing my best to transform the bureau into an independent and vibrant institution by introducing comprehensive reforms,” he added.
NAB, he said, was an institution which was working in accordance with the law to eradicate corruption. “Strengthening of institutions is tantamount to strengthening the country,” he said.
The NAB chairman said his organisation believed in resolving issues of everyone in accordance with the law and the Constitution without hurting his or her self-esteem. He claimed that NAB was a people-friendly institution and its working could be improved further in cooperation with the bureaucracy.
He said elimination of corruption was a collective responsibility.
“We are enjoying coveted positions. We owe the country and we should pay back to it for this kindness. We should work together for elimination of corruption,” he urged the federal secretaries.
Justice Iqbal said the people who did not have any means of transport 28 years ago had now become owners of properties and towers in Dubai. “If we pose a question regarding the source of their income for such huge fortunes, they become angry. Was it a sin to ask where the debt of $95 billion had been spent?” he wondered.
He said NAB and the bureaucracy did not belong to any group, faction, government or political party, but they had a strong affiliation with Pakistan, so they should think 10 times before taking a wrong action. “Governments come and go but the state always remains intact. The government makes policy but implementation rests with the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy must not succumb to political pressure and make decisions without caring about punishments or consequences. This would ensure their success,” he added. Talking about the working of NAB, he said its investigative system was being improved gradually.
Justice Iqbal said he had decided to supervise himself complaints against any secretary or additional secretary and retired bureaucrats, adding that a questionnaire would be sent to the officials if needed.
Referring to the Saaf Paani scam against former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, he said corruption worth billions of rupees was committed in Punjab by establishing various companies.
He said NAB was taking effective measures for eliminating corruption, adding that the investigation against three chief ministers of Balochistan was under progress.
Justice Iqbal assured the federal secretaries that NAB was taking indiscriminate accountability of all under the slogan of ‘accountability for all’. “Discrimination will never be done against anyone and care is needed to investigate white-collar crimes,” he added.
Commenting indirectly on the cases against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the NAB chairman said properties abroad were being detected by mutual legal assistance and the mighty of the past had already been put behind bars.
Later, Justice Iqbal answered the questions asked by various federal secretaries.
Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2019