LAHORE - After about half a dozen fruitless meetings, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and opposition leader in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah have ultimately ‘discovered’ the man who is supposed to launch a crusade against corruption, which has become a way of life in Pakistan.
He is incumbent Interior Secretary Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, a Grade- 22 officer, who also held the same position during the PPP-led government. He also served as Education Secretary, Commissioner Lahore and Rawalpindi and Executive Director, Higher Education Commission.
The name was proposed by the prime minister and the PPP leadership approved it.
The Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, who have also sizeable presence in the legislature, have not been taken into confidence, because of which the new NAB chief is the choice of the major two parties whose leaders face cases.
A bureaucrat who spent all his life in pleasing his seniors to get promoted to next grades is decidedly an experienced ‘yes man’ who will never like to do anything that could annoy the very people he is supposed to proceed against. Therefore, it will not be wrong to assume that Mr Chaudhry being a ‘spineless’ bureaucrat cannot be expected to perform the duties of the NAB chairman honestly and efficiently. Thus, the battle against corruption has been lost before it is launched. And the menace will remain as widespread and deep-rooted as ever.
There was a time when the prime minister and the opposition leader discussed the name of Justice (retd) Rana Bhagwandas, a man respected for his integrity. However, under the law he could not be appointed on the post because of being a former chairman of the Federal Public Service Commission. The only way to waive his ‘ineligibility’ was to amend the relevant law. But the former judge did not like the government to do that for the sake of an individual, a position which only an honest person can take.
About half a dozen other names also came under discussions between the prime minister and the opposition leader during meetings on various occasions. However, no agreement could be reached because of the personal interests of the two sides. Those considered for the post were Justice Mian Muhammad Ajmal, Justice Ijaz Chaudhry, two retired bureaucrats Chaudhry Abdul Rauf and Shaukat Durrani.
Justice (retd) Rehmat Hussain Jaffri and former bureaucrat Khwaja Zaheer and Justice Sardar Raza were also considered for the job. However, no consensus was reached on any of them.
To be able to come up to the expectations of the nation, the new NAB chairman will have to prove that he has no soft corner for anyone. He will have to bring all corrupt to justice without any discrimination. For this purpose, he will have to revive the cases pending against the PPP and the PML-N leaders.
According to a report published in this newspaper, there are about six references pending against former president Asif Ali Zardari and three against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members.
The cases pending against Mr Zardari were ‘frozen’ by a Rawalpindi accountability court on January 28, 2010, as the principal accused being the head of state enjoyed constitutional immunity from prosecution.
These cases include Grant of licence to M/S ARY Traders for import of Gold/Silver, alleged kickbacks and commissions received by him from SGS and PSI companies, and kickbacks in pre-shipment (Cotechna Case). The fourth pending case concerns Green Tractor Scheme.
The cases pending against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif include Ittefaq Foundries’ wilful loan default, Hudaibiya Paper Mills case and a case of assets beyond known means.
These cases were sent to the NAB which filed three references in an accountability court in 2001. The accountability court, in April 2001, adjourned the cases sine die as the accused were not present in the country. The NAB moved the court in 2007 for reopening these cases when the Supreme Court had allowed Mr Sharif to return to Pakistan from exile.
Again in 2008 and 2010, the NAB moved the accountability court to have the cases reopened. But the request was not entertained as it was not duly signed by NAB chief, which was a legal requirement. In October last year, the Sharif brothers filed a writ petition in the Lahore High Court seeking dismissal of these cases. The court stayed the proceedings.