The nation’s prime accountability body loses all credibility when it meekly accepts orders to “back off” from the same people it should be investigating. When Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif threatened to clip the powers of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) if it didn’t comply, the whole nation - or at least those outside political circles - were unanimous in condemning him for overstepping his powers and undermining independent accountability; after Thursday’s shameful capitulation the blame shifts wholly on the ‘watchdogs of the nation’.

The NAB’s first duty is to be independent; which means not accepting orders or even directions from the political powers of the time. This is not the first time the accountability body has colluded with politicians to hide corruption - nor will it be the last - but the statement by NAB spokesperson, Nawasih Ali Asim is a new low for the body. A day after the Prime Minister’s threats, without any executive order or a legal compulsion, the body not only vowed to improve itself in line with the premier’s instructions but issued an apology by saying “the organisation inherited some problems and it [is quickly] taking necessary measures to resolve them”. Does this mean the NAB thinks that all it’s previous investigations against politicians worthless? Apparently so, it took mere hours from them to drop and roll over for a belly rub by the government. The NAB did not even bother to deliberate on the Prime Minister’s demands, or even offer a token resistance in the line of their duty. It was pre-mediated capitulation, which tells you all you need to know about the “independent” body. If the past few months worth of actions were “inherited problems” then what has the body been doing, why do we continue to fund it, why do its leaders still have their jobs?

The answer is present in the question itself, because they do what the government bids them to do - not their duty.

As condemnable as the NAB is, the politicians escape no criticism either. The Leader of the Opposition and the Interior Minister, who were at each others throats over arrests in Karachi now stand hand in hand singing praises of the NAB’s decision. Only PTI has had the decency to protest this corruption. The Prime Minister said on Wednesday that “officials are too scared to do their job because of the NAB”; they should be, if they are engaging in corrupt practices.