Blatant injustice

Published March 3, 2022

NAB HAS often been criticised — and rightly so — for hounding opponents of the government of the day and bringing them to heel rather than delivering any accountability worth the name. The tragic case of retired Brig Asad Munir highlights the flaws in NAB’s system of accountability, and how this institution is often used to target innocent individuals.

As reported, Asad Munir, who committed suicide in 2019 after NAB had booked him in a corruption case, has been acquitted of the charges against him. The accountability court judge ruled that the case was not fit for trial. It is simply a travesty of justice that an innocent man was hounded to the point where he took his own life due to the persecution and humiliation he faced at the hands of the investigating agencies. While constantly proclaiming his innocence, he had been paraded in handcuffs and subjected to a media trial, which proved too much to bear.

This case is not the only one of its kind. Another civil servant, Khurram Humayun, also reportedly took his own life after facing questionable corruption charges. These tragedies illustrate the dire need to change the method of investigating corruption cases in Pakistan. Whether it is politicians, civil servants or ordinary citizens, no one can be presumed guilty before being proven so in a court of law.

Read more: Suicide or murder?

Meanwhile, media trials and character assassination campaigns can have a devastating effect on law-abiding citizens accused of financial impropriety. NAB must not be used as a tool to target opposition figures or bureaucrats who refuse to toe the line. The state cannot compensate Asad Munir’s family for the gross miscarriage of justice. But it can take steps to ensure that no more innocent people’s lives are destroyed due to dubious corruption allegations. By all means the state needs to punish the corrupt, but fighting graft and hunting down political opponents are two very different matters. An urgent and thorough overhaul of NAB is, therefore, the need of the hour.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2022

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