ISLAMABAD – Saying that he was facing intense pressure from the ‘criminal elements’ to step down, NAB chief Admiral (r) Fasih Bokhari has resolved not to bow down and fight them out come what may.

“I am facing pressure but I will not resign; (I will) leave my job only if I am sacked,” the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman said on a high note while addressing a press conference at NAB Headquarters here on Saturday.

“I have come to fight against corruption and I will continue” doing my job, he said. Explaining the extent of pressure, Fasih said that whenever some action would be initiated against criminals, they would resort to maligning others with an objective to secure them.

The NAB chairman understandably was pointing to allegations being levelled against him from certain quarters for some time that he and some other senior had managed to get their appointments in the bureau with the support of property tycoon Malik Riaz with whom they allegedly had close association.

The former Naval Chief said he had been criticised by some political parties and was accused of corruption by corrupt elements, but he said he would stand against dishonesty. The NAB chief said that corruption has increased due to mismanagement and ‘political pressure’ on the institutions.

He however clarified he was neither facing any pressure from the Presidency nor from military General Headquarters (GHQ) but from ‘powerful criminal elements’. He said regulatory authority failed to control the corruption because it was hard to find evidence against ‘white collar crimes’.

Fasih said he was determined to root out corruption from society, adding that 49 pieces of legislation made to prevent corruption since 1947 had failed to deliver. “I had a preventive model against corruption in my mind that NAB is now following,” he added.

As a matter of fact, NAB Chairman is a tenure post under the constitution and he could not be removed prematurely. A NAB chairman could only be removed on the reasons on which a judge of Supreme Court could be removed.

NAB Awareness and Prevention (A&P) director general during the press briefing also said that ministries and departments, or in other words bureaucracy, had not been cooperating with the bureau in prevention of corruption. He added that the situation had improved now owing to the strong stance of the judiciary against corruption and the personal efforts of the NAB chief.

The seemingly determined accountability bureau boss, along with his team, gave an overview of the NAB’s major achievements in the last six months under the ‘Prevention and Awareness Regime’. The chairman explained the new strategy and re-prioritisation in his anti-corruption efforts wherein the Prevention Regime has been given top priority in order to ensure prevention of corruption in parallel with enforcement practices.

In the past, NAB concentrated on criminalities, victimisations, and cognisance of miss-procurements already done, he said, adding that this approach had been replaced with the more comprehensive, robust anti-corruption regime based on prevention, awareness and enforcement. In this context the chairman claimed major successes in preventing corruption at mega level across the board and without discrimination or victimisation.

A&P DG thereafter gave a detailed presentation on the NAB achievements. He said that regulatory mechanism necessary to prevent corruption had collapsed in the country and they wanted to enhance this mechanism and structure discretionary powers in this regard. He said NAB was working with 11 regulators at federal level and 13 prevention committees at provincial level to fight against the menace of corruption.

“We want to focus future generation and for this purpose they (the governments) have to change curriculum to fight corruption,” he said, adding that NAB had formed a curriculum committee, besides forming character building societies. “Our chairman has encouraged us; we have hired experts from abroad to take advice on prevention regime and have taken help of NGOs, specially Transparency International,” he added.

He said that since March 2012, 173 projects at federal and provincial levels were put to scrutiny by NAB carrying financial impact for Rs1,475 billion. The projects and corresponding amounts in billions of rupees prevented from corruption include14 projects at federal level amounting Rs1,426 billion, 55 projects in Sindh amounting Rs26.3 billion, 73 projects in Punjab with the total cost of Rs11.2 billion, 12 in Balochistan amounting Rs9.6 billion, 14 projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with Rs1 billion and 5 projects in Rawalpindi with Rs1 billion outlay.

The DG said the nature of NAB diligence covered pre-procurement, ongoing projects, and post-procurement misdemeanours projects and NAB work had been varying from corrective advice, procedural review, and annulment. It covered matters ab initio wherein gross violations of PPRA Rules or departmental rules as well as procedures were observed, he said.

He giving the example said WAPDA in Neelum Jhelum Project increased cost from PC-I value for Rs84 billion to Rs321 billion. WAPDA incurred Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) Rules violations in award of contract to Chinese firm regarding procurement of Thrust Boring Machines (TBMs), costing Rs19.5 billion. Moreover, presently, the fate of the project jeopardised due to reported absence of insurance cover to the TBMs. Other classic example of PPRA Rules and Capital Development Authority (CDA) Rules violations is revealed in the LED Project by CDA, he added. This project for about Rs 8 billions is instructed for annulment including others.

He said Port Qasim Authority (PQA) and KPT have also been engaged to restrict from entering into corrupt zone on similar issues of dredging operation, 75 ton Bollard Pull Tug procurement, and allotment of plots. He said substantial corrections, revisions of draft contracts and compliance to rules had been exercised by various departments including National Highway Authority (NHA), Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Universal Service Fund Company (USFCo), SNGPL, and Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) and others.