With Lahore High Court’s (LHC) granting of bail to Leader of Opposition, Hamza Shahbaz, in Ramzan Sugar Mills case, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) tastes another small victory. PML-N will exploit this to the maximum. After different courts of the country granted bails to many members of PML-N, perception against National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) references as attempts of victimising the government’s opponents strengthens further.

Whether NAB believes in political victimisation or not is a contested issue. Debating on the issue is a perpetual one. However, the grilling of the prosecutor by the justices of the LHC over questions of the law reveals one thing: prosecutor’s poor understanding of the law.

Unfortunately, the primary anti-graft body of the country cannot engage well-qualified prosecutors. Time and again, poorly trained NAB prosecutors arguing before the courts, unaware of the intricacies of and hitches in the NAB law, provide the suspect with a chance to get away with reference filed against him/her. Moreover, these prosecutors lack adequate knowledge of procedural laws as well. For instance, many amongst the prosecutors do not command grip over the most important legal documents such as Criminal procedure Code and Qanoon-e-Shahadat.

It is the lack of comprehension of these statutes on the part of the prosecutors that the case in hand becomes weak. As a result, the court has no other option but to grant bail to or set an accused free. NAB needs to establish independent external and internal oversight and accountability mechanisms, to ensure that it works to the highest professional standards. It must stop pursuing suspects before investigations are complete. These are some lessons the body needs to learn from the grilling of its prosecutor in the LHC.

The government and the anti-graft body need to reflect on their strategy to uproot the menace of corruption from the country. Clearly, the present approach is not working well, for the courts of the state are granting bails to the “corrupt” politicians. Many think of NAB’s operations as nothing short of witch-hunting and political victimisation of the government’s opponents.

There have been numerous cases where politicians, senior government officials and business people have been administered shameful treatment while still under investigation. In light of some of the arrests, allegations of selective accountability and political victimisation have a ring of truth. It is undoubtedly not coincidental that most of those targeted in recent months belong to the opposition PML-N. Under NAB laws they can be detained on mere allegations.

It is not to say that corruption is not the major challenge that the country is facing. However, the flaws in NAB’s operation severely undermine the so-called anti-corruption drive that Imran Khan’s government initiated soon after coming to power.