National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the scourge of scandalous politicians and the prime applicator of pressure, is currently both under pressure and weathering scandal. While many politicians who have been under the screw of the institution are relishing these incidents as long overdue ‘just deserts’, the issues that they have been focusing on are the wrong ones. Make no mistake, the accountability body does deserve criticism, but it does so for the modus operandi of the institution rather than the actions of its Chairman in his personal capacity.

The leaked phone call – which has been vehemently denied as fake and called an attempt at blackmail – might serve to embarrass retired Justice Javed Iqbal, but in and off itself it betrays no incidents of institutional impropriety or illegality. Unless those aspects can be proven, as well as the fact that it is indeed the NAB Chairman’s voice, the recordings are a non-issue.

More troubling is the interview attributed to the Chairman – also denied – where he allegedly expressed being under pressure from certain government circles regarding the individuals the body chooses to prosecute. What should concern us even more are the comments of the Chief Justice – these cannot be denied – during a hearing in the Supreme Court where he asked, quite strictly, “What does the NAB do after all? Is NAB’s only purpose to make cases?” The country’s apex judge’s frustration with the body’s practice of simply charging politicians without having proper evidence or following through with the prosecution process is a much deeper indictment of NAB’s faults.

The controversy over Asad Munir’s suicide, the deaths in NAB custody and other similar issues is still not resolved, and they paint a much more troubling picture of the body’s intimidation and humiliation tactics. Scandals may be more fascinating, but they divert attention from the real issues.