ISLAMABAD - National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has virtually become dysfunctional in the absence of its chairman, while ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and main opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) seem least interested in the proper functioning of the department in its current mould.

Uncertainty and despondency among the staff is at its peak, particularly the young officers in the department are worried about their fate and future, as ruling PML-N has given no clear-cut policy on it.

Sources in the government informed that legal wizards in Mian Nawaz Sharif’s team wanted to replace the incumbent NAB with an independent and more powerful accountability apparatus for which it could evolve consensus with PPP during the past five years and the draft bill of National Accountability Commission (NAC) could not be approved during that period due to sharp differences between them.

Now with change in the government both PML-N and PPP have just swapped their positions but the points of divergence on the draft NAC bill are very much in place. So in the given situation the installation of the new accountability apparatus to replace the incumbent one is less likely.

On the other hand, the existing NAB in the absence of the chairman would just be a redundant entity as under the NAB Ordinance 1999, the chairman is the only competent authority to approve initiation of any inquiry, investigation and on filing of reference on completion of investigation in the NAB courts.

A source in the department said that under the NAB Ordinance even the executive board meeting of the department could only be called by the Chairman and in his absence no such meeting could be called even by deputy chairman.

Similarly the renewal of contracts of the employees or the cases of regularisation of the employees could not be proceeded with other than Chairman NAB and that was the reason a number of employees working on contract whose contract period is going to expire on June 30 are panicked and are unaware of their fate and future.

Similarly, the cases of some young officers appointed in the department recently, are also worried about their career in the department as they are clueless what would happen to them on completion of their probation period.

Similarly around 300 new investigation officers were appointed by the former Chairman NAB Admiral (Retd) Fasih Bokhari to strengthen the investigation team of the department and all of them were getting training in COMSATS and it was also not clear what would be their fate on completion of their training in next couple of months.

Sources in the department informed that under Section 28-F of NAB Ordinance, chairman NAB is the only competent authority to order some inquiry, investigation and gave approval to filing of reference in the court of law on completion of some investigation and no one else in his place could exercise these powers.

Sources further said that despite apex court’s orders the ruling PML-N has not initiated the process of filling in the vacant post of chairman NAB for which a meaningful consultation between the Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly is mandatory and this time it would be Syed Khursheed Shah whose consent on some appropriate name for filling the slot would be mandatory.

However, sources close to PML-N leadership informed that appointment of new chairman NAB is not on the priority list of the government and they would prefer to go for getting the NAC Bill passed from the Parliament, which in the given situation is not an easy task for them, especially from the Upper House of the Parliament where PPP is still having majority and without addressing their concern on the NAC Bill, it would almost be impossible for them to get it passed from Senate.