Threats to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) made by the Prime Minister, the Punjab Chief Minister and other prominent leaders of PML-N seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. Last week, the Faisalabad DCO office was raided by NAB, with an EDO Finance Officer arrested on charges of embezzlement of public funds. The Punjab Education Minister, Rana Mashood also took part in the attempts to chagrin NAB and force it to look the other way. It seems that his words have had an effect; for while NAB has turned its head, it now seems firmly locked in Rana Mashood’s direction. LDA has been asked for information concerning Rana Mashood, and while the contents of the requested data have not been mentioned, the Education Minister might be in hot water soon.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has challenged anyone to prove allegations of corruption against him. And if, for the sake of argument, we are to believe that this fierce defence of his character is motivated by his innocence, his statement does nothing to absolve the rest of his government and party members. Given the discrepancies that have surfaced as a result of the digging done by NAB, it is naïve to state that the Punjab government is entirely fair and transparent. CM Shahbaz Sharif is known throughout the country for being the most hands on CM Punjab has ever seen. Out of 60 references uploaded by NAB on its website, the elevators and escalators installed at Metro Bus stations are also under the radar. The Metro Bus project is his brainchild from start to finish. So if there has been some form of corruption in the project, it is rational to assume that the Chief Minister should share the blame.

The leadership of NAB has given its employees up until March 31 to finish investigation of the 60 references, one of which is related to the construction of a road leading to the Sharif residence, Jati Umra in Raiwind, causing a loss of Rs125 million to the national kitty. Most of the cases on NAB’s list are extremely high-profile, leading to sleepless nights for many of the most influential leaders of the country. It is time that NAB sheds light on the truth behind these cases, and soon, or the government seems adamant on quashing the Bureau based on claims of harassment by some unknown ‘government officials’. It is now or never, and if successful, NAB will finally have turned a corner on to a new day of more accountability for the wealthy in Pakistan.