The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has once again, being as proactive as it recently has been, submitted details of 179 mega cases in the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP). The NAB chairman promises that it is his highest priority to finalise these “mega” cases in a professional manner without compromising on transparency, but will he really be able to deliver on that promise? He claimed that out of 81 inquiries, 25 inquiries have since been upgraded into investigations, six inquiries have culminated into voluntary return, one inquiry merged into ongoing reference and five closed on merit, leaving a balance of 44 inquiries to be dealt with.

The issues of tax evasion and illegally held assets in Pakistan are as old as time. Yet to this day, not one “mega” case has been cracked or any one of influence has been convicted for their corrupt practices. The efficacy of NAB can be debated endlessly but the fact remains that in none of their recent reports of inquiries or investigations have they highlighted revenue losses caused to the national exchequer due to crimes and frauds committed by those in a position of power. Trying to expose corruption is a noble deed, but the dead ends that these efforts reach time and time again are more than frustrating. It is very likely that much like the list of mega cases handed over by NAB in July last year, the slight furore generated by this list will die down and all will be business as usual very soon.

In its report re-submitted on July 13, 2015, NAB gave details to the Supreme Court about 150 mega corruption cases with dates of initiation of proceedings and progress so far, much like it did this year. These cases include serious charges of misuse of authority and financial bungling against the Prime Minister, Chief Minister Punjab, former premiers, ministers, former generals and top bureaucrats. The amount of money involved in the 150 mega corruption cases was over trillions of rupees. Did those names on the list face any accountability so far? Not that the public is aware of. By submitting this list again, NAB is unfortunately flogging a dead horse and it is time they, and other politicians who use these cases as cheap publicity by trudging these names through the mud over and again, accept that. These cases have long been closed and NAB or other stakeholders are unlikely to get anywhere the second time.

After a long and resource intensive 15-year investigation, NAB recently gave Finance Minister Ishaq Dar a clean chit in a Rs130 billion corruption case. The politicians were quick to criticise NAB for maligning them and alleging the charges were ‘baseless’ in light of this vindication. Unless they prove their effectiveness by actually verifying the guilty, that’s what their investigations will be labelled; baseless.