All hail the chief. NAB has a new chairman, finally appointed after a laborious consultation process between the prime minister and the leader of opposition. Many a session ended at a draw, until the name of Mr Chaudhry Qamar Zaman, a career bureaucrat, was finalized for the post vacated by Fasih Bokhari following a Supreme Court decision.
The fact that NAB has a new chief is nothing to celebrate in and of itself. It has had at its helm many, who despite tall claims have been able to achieve little in the way of ensuring accountability, and recovering funds stolen from the kitty. The reason a new chief has been sought for so long, and campaigned for so diligently by the media, pursued by the courts, and followed with interest by the general public, is that it is no small secret that quite a few among Pakistan’s high-and-mighty have made a quick buck at the expense of the taxpayer. This tradition has continued for years, and is likely to remain unbroken, unless a NAB supremo with real power, and an iron-cast intention to root out rotten elements from among the cadres of the powerful takes the reigns.
Is Mr Chaudhry that man? It remains to be seen. Reported as having ‘excellent’ relations with both the PPP and PML-N – indeed his name having been agreed to after half a dozen failed meetings would indicate so also – Mr Chaudhry will have to prove that his ‘excellent’ relations are no more than cordiality and politeness, and in the position of the NAB chief, both parties will find him unshakably fair and neutral. He has till February 20, 2014 to make a mark; at which time he is up for retirement. As many NAB cases languish for lack of a chairman to sign off on the files, Mr Chaudhry’s choice of cases will be under close scrutiny for evidence of any undue favours to either PML-N or PPP leaders. Any leaning one way or the other will not escape note. Mr Chaudhry has inherited an unenviable job; one can only wish him luck.