The prosecutions of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), despite their claims of following protocol, have become quite controversial. There is significant evidence pointing towards the uncertainty in the bureaucracy due to fear of arrests at the hands of NAB, which is preventing any initiatives and work which might bring claims of working beyond their jurisdiction. Head of NAB Javed Iqbal on Tuesday addressed senior public servants in Lahore and asked them to follow rules. He was of the opinion that NAB will continue their inquiries, only a few of which are bureaucracy related, and the bureaucracy should work without any fear.

This fear in the bureaucracy has been highlighted time and again since the new government took charge because many inducted within the bureaucracy have worked closely with the previous parties and often that is held against them. It is the task of the government to win over these employees and provide them the autonomy to work within their jurisdiction, understanding the social and bureaucratic situation at hand. However several arrests at the hands of the NAB have been made and that too, unannounced. Such arrests are counterproductive to the narrative of autonomy and highlight the need for a protocol. NAB Head Javed Iqbal has promised to not engage in surprise arrests and personally overlook the cases of bureaucracy but the government together with NAB needs to identify practices of NAB to create a more efficient and trustworthy system.

In the last couple of months, we have witnessed several cases which point towards mistreatment. A school principal also passed away a few months back while he was arrested by NAB and undergoing a physical remand. There was a lot of outcry on social media after which an inquiry was launch. However, the reporting of such incidents only point towards the fact that there is a need to reform the institution of NAB for several reasons. The first is to ensure that no one misuses the granted authority, the second is to ensure no innocent persons are arrested without due legal course and subjected to any violence in the process, and third that NAB inquiries do not translate to media trials because NAB trials have been occurring quite publicly and they build a narrative against individuals before the inquiry reaches a decision. Without resolving these matters, establishing trust in NAB will be a fruitless effort.