People of Pakistan have a very short memory pertaining to the historical political facts of the country. We suffer from selective amnesia. People can forget and forgive quickly. Two decades ago, Imran thundered over the need for accountability. After lackluster efforts, only after under pressure from the opposition, Nawaz and Benazir had introduced new laws to start accountability.
Let me take you back to 1997 when Nawaz started his second tenure as a PM. Soon after the government assumed its duties, it quashed all the proceedings against Nawaz in Islamabad High Court (IHC). The senior officials of CBR who were heading the investigations into financial dealings of ‘Itehaq foundry’ were suspended.
Nevertheless, Nawaz did start an ‘Ehtasaab cell’ in PM house in an attempt to take a stern action against the corrupt elements in the country.
Who were those corrupt elements? Have a guess?
These were the members of PPP. It conveniently ignored PML-N members.
Nawaz’s accountability bill was unacceptable itself as it was passed by the ruling PML without any debate in the parliament. It had no resemblance to the accountability bill, originally presented the previous year.
The problem which was then, as it is now is of a witch-hunt. The opposition cried foul of political victimization. Nawaz in wake of a current wave of accountability from NAB is blaming military establishment. Whenever the accountability is not targeting the political class across the board, it leads to slogans of a political witch-hunt.
Nawaz’s counsel is preparing an appeal to challenged Accountability court verdict, misjudging it as an Ehtesab Commission, where a pre-arrest bail was a norm.
Though, NAB claims of initiating the proceedings against other accused too-among the four hundred plus Pakistani who featured in Panama papers. Nawaz doesn’t become a party to such claims.
The alleged respite given to PPP politicians in Sindh did make the entire process questionable. NAB denies the allegations. But, the slow pace of cases against the two ex-PPP premieres frustrates PML-N.
The accountability process against Nawaz was the result of efforts of Imran Khan after he sniffed the chance when Panama scandal rocked the world.
After Qamar Zaman’s lackluster effort to revamp NAB, retired justice Javed Iqbal worked tirelessly to improve the anti-watchdog. There is no doubt it was a quick fix, but NAB officials did try to prepare cases meticulously and defend them with heart and soul.
The way PML had started an Accountability of PPP, and it’s affiliated cronies in 1997, but now, despite being in government PML-N has witnessed an unprecedented accountability. This has enraged the PML-N. Before launching a scathing attack on current proceedings. It must answer. What stopped PML-N government taking action against the 42,000 defaulters nominated by the State Bank of Pakistan in 1996-97.
Back then the list of targets compiled by Safiur Rehman and chief Ehtesaab Commission never had a name of any PML leader. What makes the situation different this time around? Well, this time, big-wigs of PPP, PTI, and some ex-generals are facing investigations under the NAB 1999 ordinance.
Moreover, the Nawaz government in 1997, itself was guilty of victimization. It pealed the law in such a way to only target the culprits in the PPP era and subsequently ignored the wrongdoings of Nawaz in his tenure. The beneficiaries of an unprecedented scale of patronage in Sharif’s time period as Punjab CM and PM were conveniently ignored.
During PML-N’s era, cases were not pursued against bureaucratese and businessmen allied to it. Hussain Lawai’s arrest is a prime example and cases against Sharjeel Memon and dozens of PPP leaders suggest, it is not a witch-hunt as claimed. The recommendations to put the names of Asif Ali Zardari and Farayal Talpur reflects a new dawn in the history of Pakistan’s Accountability.
Nawaz must pay for what he sowed in his term as CM and Pakistan premier in his first tenure.