The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), has opened up a Pandora’s box of apparent scintillating “mega corruption” cases - five inquiries, two investigations and four complaint verifications. The first inquiry was authorized against Dr. Arbab Alamgir Khan, ex-federal minister for communication and Asma Alamgir, former PPP MNA regarding accumulation of assets beyond the known sources of income. The second inquiry was authorised against Pir Mazhar ul Haq former minister for education Sindh for illegal appointment, the third inquiry was authorised against Muhammad Amin Umrani, ex-provincial minister for excise & taxation Balochistan. The fourth inquiry was authorized against Muhammad Ismail Gujjar, Chairman Quetta Development Authority (CDA), accused for illegal transfer of government land and the fifth was authorized against Dr. Iftikhar Ahmed, Chairman PARC.

This news has made headlines because of the use of terms: mega, corruption and scandal... yet there is nothing to report, just like the time they made the front pages with their list of 150 mega-corruption cases back in July. Before the PPP can cry victimisation, the former list also contained the names of two former premiers, an ex-president, ministers and top bureaucrats, so all these politicos are in it together.

These are old faces and old cases, which the NAB has not been able to pursue - just like the other cases it hasn’t in over three decades.

From such a huge report, one thing can be said to hold consistent: NAB investigations are often heard of when launched, but never seen completed. In between a bit of a hullabaloo is made to make it seem like the NAB has game.

NAB has been under constant scrutiny for a long time, where despite having a sum of 6 billion allotted to it, it failed to arrest its long lists of proclaimed offenders. Mega-corruption scandals do exist, but with our track record of following investigations, the worst offenders have been on the NAB list for decades. NAB is either incompetent, scared or has no proof, yet it needs to tout these lists, to give itself an aura of legitimacy.

The regulation part of NAB will only be conducted effectively if the people chosen for doing that part are capable and empowered enough to take tough decisions of going against the tide. That unfortunately will only happen when the real checks and balances in government are in place, and a real opposition makes the government dance on its toes. It is the state of mind as well as the state of regulation that needs repair.