The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) seems to be in an awkward position. While on one side, there is controversy over the National Assembly’s plans to limit the powers of the body, on the other hand it is dealing with cases that just may exceed the limits of its jurisdiction. Perhaps the two are interrelated – a suspicion that becomes deeper considering recent developments. On February 22, a former official from the Defence Housing Authority (DHA), retired Lt Col Tariq Kamal – who had been arrested in relation to the case – asked NAB to investigate whether General Kayani was involved in “irregularities/misappropriation” related to DHA Valley contracts or whether “his name was used by the decision makers just to benefit Bahria Town”.

General Kiyani has always been in the periphery of the investigation – his brothers are being soundly interrogated – but this may be the first time his name has come up in an official complaint. Logic dictates that the former chief be investigated if his brothers are involved, but under present law there seems to be confusion over whether NAB can pursue the case or not. One panel of opinion – composed almost exclusively of embattled politicians and retired army officers – believe that NAB cannot investigate cases which involve the armed forces. There is authority behind this; financial corruption in the armed forces is dealt under the army acts of 1958. However, there is strong precedent for exceptions, and considering that NAB curtailment is on the card, it is imperative that the NAB gets to investigate this highly damaging case.

Firstly, DHA is a body created by the legislature, therefore anything related to it comes under NAB jurisdiction – under this logic, Tariq Kamal and others were arrested. Secondly, the armed forces themselves have been investigated in the past, albeit with the support of the armed forces. And that is the bottom-line; does the military support investigation into its affairs or will they handle it themselves? These are bleak state of affairs for complete accountability, but that is how the law stands. Ultimately, in this case, that support is apparently present; the present COAS Raheel Sharif has publicly asked the NAB to investigate, and assured the public that the scam will be resolved. The NAB has all the right to investigate this case to its fullest extent, even if it takes them all the way to GHQ.