name='verify-v1'/>"> MediaTrial: NAB’s leadership crisis: Adm Fasih has tough choices

Monday, January 28, 2013

NAB’s leadership crisis: Adm Fasih has tough choices

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The outright rejection of Justice (R) Javed Iqbal Commission by NAB investigators and Kamran Faisal’s family as well as their demand for independent and transparent investigation has sounded justification.

Can any Commission set up by the prime minister who himself is prime accused in Rental Power Projects (RPPs) scam be expected to remain impartial or deliver justice?

Why Justice (R) Javed Iqbal is always the hot favorite to head any government sponsored Commission? If the retired justice took almost 18 months to complete Abbottabad operation inquiry and his ‘missing persons’ Commission continues merrily, there seems little hope for a speedy and conclusive investigation in Kamran Faisal’s case.

One can easily smell a rat in government’s quick announcement of Justice Javed Iqbal Commission as well as Chairman NAB’s reported decision to suspend further RPPs probe until conclusion of investigation into Kamran Faisal’s death. The indifferent attitude of NAB’s top leadership in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy gave the impression of a planned cover-up, till NAB’s internal ‘revolt’ and media’s ‘breaking’ reports caused panic in NAB’s hierarchy.

It was expected that as Chairman NAB, Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari, with his past Naval accomplishments and being the one who is respected for his impeccable integrity, would rise against corruption mafia and bring accountability in country back on track. Admiral Fasih’s lack of assertiveness and commitment to crack down on the corrupt government politicians and conniving bureaucrats is clearly visible, despite the tremendous powers that he enjoys under National Accountability Ordinance (NAO- 1999).

Instead of implementing the Supreme Court’s directive to arrest the RPPs high-profile accused, the retired Admiral obstructed rule of law by protecting them either willfully or remained powerless before invisible RPPs stakeholders. In displaying such weakness, he not only earned Supreme Court’s wrath but failed to live up to the trust that goes with this sacred public position.

Should Chairman NAB not take the high moral position to accept responsibility for the ‘rebellion’ by his investigators and resign from office? When junior NAB officers asked their Chairman to act on Supreme Court ‘s directives and arrest the RPPs culprits including the incumbent Prime Minister, then the retired Admiral should either act or lose face permanently before his subordinates.

Under provisions of UN Convention Against Corruption ( UNCAC) and international cooperation request for mutual legal assistance’ in NAO, both Admiral (R) Mansurul Haq of Augusta submarines kickbacks fame and ex-Bank of Punjab President Hamesh Khan were successfully extradited by NAB from US in recent past.

Admiral Fasih must explain the criminal failure to nab ex-OGRA Chief Tauqir Sadiq within country and later from UAE? Will NAB arrest PPP high-ups who helped OGRA chief flee abroad? Is NAB in collusion with ruling party in this affair simply because of Tauqir Sadiq’s close relationship with a PPP senator who is also party’s senior leader?

Admiral Fasih cannot absolve himself from the politically motivated inductions in NAB during his 16 months in office. A former PCO judge and controversial ex-Director General NAB Punjab, whose extension period was declared illegal by Lahore High Court in 2011 on petition lodged by NAB Punjab officers, was recently inducted as NAB’s Additional Prosecutor General.

The current Director General Financial Crimes Investigation Wing (DG FCIW) in NAB Headquarters, a fast rising banker with reported connections with powerful people managed repeated comebacks into NAB despite his suspected credentials and poor reputation within the bureau.

If Chairman NAB was aware or in any way involved in DG FCIW’s pressure tactics on Kamran to change RPPs report in favor of Prime Minister, then the Admiral may be guilty of violating NAB’s code of conduct.

For NAB to resume normal operations, the prevailing sense of insecurity and fear that gripped NAB’s upright investigators must be removed.

As an immediate step, contractual appointees on NAB’s regular Grade 21 positions need to be replaced with NAB’s permanent cadre officers. Similarly NAB prosecutors with political connections must be removed so that honest and efficient investigations yield positive results.

Like in General Musharraf’s time, NAB’s intelligence setup should be strengthened with ex-ISI/MI officers to monitor unethical practices by NAB personnel especially influential senior officials having links outside.

If a few junior NAB officers were held accountable under NAO on corruption charges and sent to jail during Musharraf’s era, similar standards of discipline need to be enforced in respect of senior lot.

The Supreme Court has no option but to enforce its writ and ensure that NAB’s top leadership implements Court’s directives in letter and spirit. The Javed Iqbal Commission should be dissolved and replaced with an independent Commission preferably under a serving Supreme Court judge.

Whether suicide or murder, the finger of suspicion in Kamran’s death points towards the evil nexus between the powerful RPPs elite and their cronies in NAB’s higher echelons.

To prevent a cover up by Islamabad police, a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) comprising ISI/ MI, IB and police experts be entrusted to probe Kamran Faisal’s death. If the suspects are handed over to Army’s dreaded SIB (Special Investigation Branch), the case may be resolved in no time. The Army Medical Corps, too, may be asked for Kamran Faisal’s fresh autopsy report.

The last five years proved how sham democracy led to sham accountability in the country.

While a neutral Chief Election Commissioner is in place and search for neutral caretaker Prime Minister is in progress, a truly impartial Chairman NAB is required for the cleansing job once the caretaker setup takes over. Coming weeks will show whether Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari submits to Court’s orders or is shown the door by Supreme Court .

The writer is a former Director NAB. Email:

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