Shahid Khakan Abbassi miserably failed to persuade the National Assembly Speaker, Asad Qaiser, to act fast. The former Prime Minister desperately wanted him to summon the Regional Director of NAB Lahore and explain his conduct before the Privileges’ Committee of a House that feels no shame in continue pretending as “supreme,” if weighed against rest of “the pillars of state” in our quasi-democracy.

Even a well-articulated and firmly legalistic support, furnished by a parliamentary veteran from PPP benches, Syed Naveed Qamar, didn’t help. The Speaker cunningly bought time to look deep into the legal sides of the question put before him. And this will certainly let the Regional Director get away with audacious appearances on various talk shows. First a few words to explain the background, though.

For the past two days, the Regional Director NAB, had suddenly been making himself available to celebrity hosts of top ratings talk shows. He seemed too eager and willing to tell the world that his Bureau had finally collected a huge pile of data. It clearly shows that while ruling Punjab with a firm hand for ten long years, Shehbaz Sharif has been indulging in reckless corruption.

Most of high-sounding mega projects that the former Chief Minister of Punjab had introduced were in effect used to patronise a peculiar set of top bureaucrats and political cronies. Some of them rather “looked as front men” to help Shehbaz in collecting tons of ill-gotten money.

 

Mian Shehbaz Sharif was even accused of showing no shame to order certain development scheme, with the obvious intent of facilitating businesses run by his sons and a son in law.

Often with obnoxious looking smirk, the said Regional Director kept ensuring the talk show hosts that “maximum by the end of November,” Shehbaz, his close relatives and known cronies would find themselves in jails and facing charges before courts. Being too sure of his investigating skills, the Regional Director also ruled out the possibility that cases furnished, thanks to his diligence, might not survive the judicial scrutiny.

Employing the self-righteous contempt, the same Director continued to elude questions, sincerely trying to know as to why the NAB did not appear employing the same diligence to chase those charges of corruption that the same institution had been airing against a different set of politicians. Most of these politicians are, of course, currently enjoying high-profile ministries both in Punjab and the Federal Government.

The piety pretending Director also had no convincing answer, when Shahzeb Khanzada of Geo, questioned the validity of a degree that he acquired from a “University”, unlisted by Higher Education Commission. The question did not sound “relevant” to him.

The PML-N legislators were justified to feel that the said Director opted to act like a star on TV shows, instead of discreetly focusing on his assignment, with a purpose. After appropriate wink and nod from his masters and handlers, he made himself available to talk show hosts, primarily to malign their leader, Shehbaz Sharif, via a deliberately generated blitz in ratings-driven media.

Some weeks ago, the Supreme Court had clearly instructed NAB to refrain from such maligning. Recalling that direction, the PML-N tried to check the well-designed media trial of their leader by pushing a privilege motion Friday but failed to get a respite. The proverbial damage had surely been done.

The PML-N should now feel relax for a different reason, though. After failing to provide a convincing defence to his degree on camera, the said Director appeared to have turned into an embarrassing baggage for his institution. He is no more available to media and keeps conveying to eager anchorpersons through his staff that Chairman NAB does not want him to appear on TV screens.

Fawad Chaudhry, the information minister, did try to protect him in the National Assembly, however. Although not assigned to defend the doings of NAB, he took the floor to ask the opposition to “look into the genesis” of this issue.

He insisted that Shehbaz Sharif had used his privilege of being present in National Assembly proceedings, in spite of being in NAB custody, “only” to invent and tell the maligning stories against the people interrogating him. Perhaps his conduct compelled the NAB to tell its side of the story via media appearances of its Regional Director. For sure, this spin had some validity.

The information minister sounded protesting too much, however, while vending the plea that as per Article 4 of the Constitution of Pakistan, all citizens are equal before the law in this country and no one is immune to or above it.

Claiming this, an otherwise brilliant spin master in my dear Fawad Chaudhry conveniently forgot that only the last week there surfaced a definite set of “religious leaders.” They audaciously reacted to a Supreme Court decision and incited people to murder and arson.

Responding to their call, hordes of rioting youth blocked highways and main roads all across Pakistan. Chaudhry Sahib’s colleagues in the Federal and the Punjab Government did not care remembering the loudly expressed but hypocritical love for the supremacy of law in PTI-led Pakistan.  The calm was eventually restored after signing an appeasing agreement with arson inciting group of “religious leaders.”

The National Assembly is now finished with a session that was enforced on the government, primarily by the PML-N. Thanks to it, Mian Shehbaz Sharif could spend a week of relative comfort in Islamabad and speak to the world from an elected forum. He is now set to endure long sessions in interrogation cells of the NAB, which looked set to ensure long jail terms for him by furnishing a string of multiple cases of serious corruption. His party can hardly furnish any relief for him.

 

 

Shielding the

ambitious director