Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar’s admission of the flawed appointment system of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman is refreshing, considering that the government has traditionally defended all institutions and the methods used in appointing their heads. The Interior Minister did not stop there, and even went on to state that the plea bargain law only safeguarded thieves – an accurate summation – and voiced his displeasure at the recent plea bargain offered to the former Finance Secretary of Balochistan.

The problem though, is that most governments – including the current one by the looks of it – never go beyond the stage of admitting to having a problem. The Interior Minister bemoaned the ruling party’s powerlessness in the face of the opposition when it came to NAB reforms, even though the PML-N has seen no major opposition to most of its bills passed in parliament since 2013. Whenever the issue of NAB reforms comes up, the PML-N has stated that it is looking to form consensus among all major political parties. But looking for a consensus on this while other bills are bulldozed through parliament makes no sense, especially since all public office holders and politicians have every reason to prevent the reforms from taking place.

The NAB’s job is simple; to root out corruption in public office, or in any other shape or form. The apex court has often proved itself to be much more unbiased than both the treasury and opposition benches in government, which means that Nisar’s suggestion of handing over the appointment of the NAB Chairman over to the Supreme Court might just be better than the status quo.

But a conflict of interest still exists. NAB is to investigate corruption of all public office holders, and that includes the judiciary. Judges have been named in corruption scandals in the past – the Panama papers named two judges as well, one retired and one serving. This is not to assert that either of them, or any serving judges for that matter are corrupt, but still, handing the power to appoint the heads of investigative agencies – that are specifically targeted to root out public corruption – to one of the institutions it is supposed to watch over is problematic. This is why allowing for one arm of the government to solely decide who is in charge needs to be revised. In the interest of fairness, at least two branches of the government (executive, legislative and judiciary) need to be involved in the appointment process, and since the executive and the legislative are run by one political party, judicial oversight, and not complete judicial autonomy in the selection process, is the best way forward.