The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has come under fire for the pictures of the death of Professor Javed Ahmad. He was the head of the Lahore Campus of the University of Sarghoda. The problem with the picture, as pointed out by many, is that even after his death, he was handcuffed. The message that many took away from that image was that those on judicial remand are treated in an inhumane manner and that is a problem, among many, which needs to be addressed. The first issue at hand is the sheer publicity with which cases are handled now. Investigations which are carried out by governmental bodies need to be done in a manner which not only prevents excessive information to be forwarded without verification but also creates a pathway for the body to pass on information to the media.

The problem with the leakage of the professor’s dead body was also due to the lack of an information channel. At this point, NAB has distanced itself away from what happened and commented that Professor Javed was in the custody of the jail authorities and whatever happened was in their presence. This sparks the debate regarding the power extended to NAB and the space for physical remand. The debate is already going on in the parliament to reduce the number of days for physical remand and also allow the space for a bail. Often at times, the jail authorities use torture as a means to get relevant information from the suspects. While it is a largely accepted tool of investigation, inflicting unnecessary torture on anyone should be closely monitored. A person going to jail in perfect health, despite whatever crime he or she may be suspected of committing, should not lose their life due to the torture being inflicted on them.

While NAB must be appreciated for taking on the accountability challenge heads on, a framework needs to be devised which will ensure the limitations of the powers extended to them and also ensure that no one is coerced in any manner and the organisation also does take advantage of their position. In the matter regarding the death of the Professor, instead of involving themselves in a blame game and making people guess whether it was the jail authorities or the NAB itself, the body should realise that the sentiments of the masses were hurt and it is better to offer an apology and collectively make amends.