Editorial - Drawing a line - Thursday, March 24, 2011

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=37875&Cat=8

Once again, it is the superior judiciary that has made its mark, but whether the mark it has made in ruling on the appointment of the Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau can be made to stick to a Teflon-coated government, remains to be seen. Simply put, the ruling means that neither this nor any future government will have sole responsibility for the appointment of the NAB chairman, and that the process of making the appointment will henceforward include the chief justice. The Supreme Court recognised the incongruity in those who themselves may be corrupt and the subject of investigation, as being the ones to appoint the head of the primary body investigating corruption. The current dispensation has thus far ensured that the inquisitive eyes of NAB are averted from its own senior officers, and NAB as it stands today is both leaderless and toothless – a situation that the government is in no hurry to rectify.

The SC was in no doubt that there was a widely held perception that NAB in its current format was possibly being used as a cover for corruption rather than as a device to expose corruption and wrongdoing in high places. The battle against corruption featured nowhere in the list of achievements that the president recited to the joint session of parliament last Tuesday, indeed, you would think that corruption is nowhere on the government radar. One might think that far from being a matter of minor importance, corruption is the very large elephant in the room. But no, the elephant has had a thick coat of invisibility paint applied to it. Now whether the government will comply with the ruling of the court and speedily appoint an impartial chairman of NAB having lost the odious Deedar, or simply remove the irritation by abolishing NAB altogether, remains to be seen. A government that had an investment in probity, honesty and transparency would not have allowed matters to deteriorate to the point at which we find ourselves today. Corruption at every level has become almost our national defining characteristic, “...an unfortunate bane of our society” to quote the SC ruling. Even if this government fails to implement the ruling there will be other governments in the future that will be bound by it. No government is forever, and the life of this one, even if it goes to term, is now short. It is to be hoped that the government that follows this one has more respect for the rule of law, and is able to face squarely the corruption that so weakens us today.

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