LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Pakistan’s top anti-graft watchdog, has almost become dysfunctional after the Supreme Court dismissed the chairman, Fasih Bokhari, through its May 28 judgment.
In the absence of a chairman, most of NAB’s affairs have been halted, as inquiries and investigations are suffering due to an acute shortage of prosecutors and experts.
According to the law and justice ministry, the NAB deputy chairman cannot approve contractual extensions of lawyers and prosecutors.
Furthermore, under the current circumstances NAB cannot file any new reference(s) before the respective accountability court, while no new inquiry and investigation can be authorised or closed in the absence of a NAB chairman.
The contents of a letter issued by NAB Additional Director (CP and PM) Muhammad Younas states, “The undersigned is directed to inform the Law and Justice Division with request to clarify whether NAB Deputy Chairman can utilise powers delegated to him vide SRO 1450(I) 2012 dated November 20, 2012 by NAB Chairman regarding extension in lump sum, the contract period of lawyers and experts or otherwise, keeping in view of the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan dated May 28, 2013.”
The letter further elaborates that the law ministry vide their OM No 525/2013-Law-I informed the bureau that the notified order having been issued by the chairman by name had lost its efficacy because the delegation had gone along with the delegator (chairman) and powers stood reverted to the office of the NAB chairman.
NAB officials said that arrests of many accused culprits are currently pending because only the NAB chief is a competent authority to issue arrest warrants.
The delay in the appointment of a NAB chairman is eventually benefiting many of the accused because according to the National Accountability Ordinance 1999, as well as the Supreme Court’s orders, NAB authorities do not have legal provisions to initiate new investigations.