National Accountability Bureau (Nab) Chairman Admiral (R) Fasih Bokhari responded very publicly to the criticism of his statement by the federal cabinet that corruption was costing the country Rs 10 to 12 billion a day, made in support of a Transparency International report making the allegation, by repeating the claim in a press conference on Thursday. However, he promised all cooperation to the four-member cabinet committee set up in Thursday’s meeting to probe the issue. Briefing the press on Wednesday, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira had said that the allegation was motivated when it was kept in mind that elections were soon to take place. Admiral Bokhari flatly denied such allegations, though it did show that the cabinet members were aware that such massive corruption did not reflect well on it, particularly as it was not made by some opposition stalwart, but an appointee of the government itself. Admiral Bokhari, sharing some of the reasoning behind the estimate, said it was based on annual direct losses, as evident from various indictors. He said the tax-to-GDP ratio, averaged 17-20 percent globally, but was only 9 percent in Pakistan, causing thus an annual loss of Rs 2.5-3 trillion. There were also losses in state enterprises due to incompetence and corruption of Rs 300-350 billion, while losses in mega projects amounted to about Rs 350 billion. He said that indirect losses had not been quantified by the Nab, such as the untaxed agricultural sector, the revenue department, land grabbing and encroachments.That corruption exists with the cooperation of legislators is no surprise, and Admiral Bokhari offered no details of how Nab intended to tackle the problem. He analysed the problem as the conversion of two pillars of state, the Executive and the Legislature, into one. That would prevent legislative oversight over the executive, and Admiral Bokhari was right in saying that this was happening at both federal and provincial levels, and that it was a longstanding issue which persisted despite 59 laws being passed against it since Independence.The miasma of corruption surrounding the government will only be strengthened by this statement. If it intended to get Admiral Bokhari’s appointment to help cover up corruption, it does not seem to have succeeded. If it wishes to escape the perception of corruption at the hustings, it must help Nab perform its task. It should not travel along the path of confrontation it seems to have chosen.