KARACHI: Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, Chairman NAB while addressing as chief guest a ceremony organized by English Speaking Union Karachi on “Accountability and Development NAB’s Perspective at a local hotel said that Corruption is not only a vice in its own right but it also triggers a chain reaction and leads to injustice, mistrust and suspicion. It generates a sense of insecurity which makes people go astray because they start losing faith in the ability and capability of the government and society to ensure their fundamental rights. This is a vicious circle of anxiety, insecurity, hopelessness, despondency and desperation. Thus the entire social fabric, the warp and weft of certitude and hope, is torn asunder. General public seeing corruption in almost all walks of life, facing difficulties in getting their basic right and facilities simply start accepting corruption as the immutable status quo. In corrupt societies, everyone “condemns” bribery, but everyone gives and takes bribes, because not only nothing is getting done without that, but also because nothing is being done about it.

He said Corruption in government spending has a negative impact on development programs and results in perpetual increase in cost of creation and maintenance of public assets. The particular deadliness of the disease lies in its self-perpetuation. Any corrupt act or practice sets in motion a vicious cycle in which one act of corruption becomes the source of further acts of corruption.

He said National Accountability Bureau was established in these compelling circumstances to fight and eradicate corruption in a holistic and integrated manner. This is the backdrop against which NAB is striving to accomplish its mission i.e. to rid the nation from corruption and corrupt practices.

He said that NAB is essentially a complaint driven organization. An exhaustive system of cognizance of cases has been formulated to standardize the selection of cases for processing. Priority is assigned keeping in view the case nature, the amount of monies involved, the social impact and the number of affectees. NAB’s Operational Methodology has set three stages for processing of cases i.e. Complaint Verification, Inquiry and Investigation. There have been many ups & downs in NAB’s journey since its inception. The jury is still out. But I must bring on record the hard work and pains taken by all ranks of NAB towards their national duty particularly in the last two years i.e. 2014 & 2015.

He said that starting with the year 2014 which can be called basically a year of reinvigoration, we have moved with new zeal and effort. Through detailed introspection and analysis of organizational weaknesses, overhaul of procedures and business processes, all pillars of the Organization i.e. Operations, Prosecution and Awareness and Prevention have been reactivated. Organogram was revisited to transform NAB into a lean, efficient, and responsive organization. With the departure of Economic Crime Wing of FIA in 2008 a huge resource deficit gap was created and NAB was left with only 40% manpower to manage its activities. An effort has been made to fill this gap through induction of 260 officers who after training augmented NAB resources in 2014.

During the year the concept of Combined Investigation Team (CIT) was introduced. This forecloses the possibility of any single NAB officer/official influencing the discharge of official business. In the CIT two investigation officers and a legal consultant work as a team for a fair, transparent and unbiased, inquiry / investigations. To ensure objectivity and standardization across the board, the Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs) were also examined and revisited through a participative exercise. These are now being implemented. SOPs are placed on NAB’s website for convenience of all those who wish to know more about NAB’s working.

He said that keeping up the momentum in the ongoing year i.e. 2015 many new initiatives have been undertaken which have started yielding results. To eliminate the element of discretion an IT based Monitoring & Evolution System (MES) has been introduced which runs from an IO in the field, in the seven Regions of NAB, upto the Chairman at HQ. Through this online system the performance evaluation at all levels is being monitored. On a TV screen called “Dash-board” all levels of field and supervisory staff are interlinked.

He said that our top most priority is accorded to complaints of corruption against NAB’s own officials. NAB’s personnel need to follow a strict Code of Conduct and zero tolerance against corruption is to be visibly exhibited. In this matter an Internal Accountability Management System (IAM) has been introduced. Any complaint against NAB Officers is dealt with promptly and judiciously. In 2015 another batch of 110 fresh inductees (Males/Females) have been selected in 2015 through a transparent system under the NTS. For the first time the trainees are undergoing professional training at the Police Training College Sihala (Islamabad).

He said that he comparative figures of these two years with the previous two years have shown a marked increase in terms of receipt of complaints, conversion into CVs, up-gradation into Inquiries, further processing in the shape of Investigation and the number of References filed in the Courts of Law. Along with improvements on the Enforcement side improvements have been brought about in Prosecution of cases in Law Courts through recruitment of better quality of lawyers, improved salary structure and monitoring of cases results.

At this stage I would like to briefly touch upon the issues of ‘Voluntary Return’ and ‘Plea Bargain’-which have been a subject of discussion at various forums. NAB law emphasizes on recovery of looted money. Under specific provisions of NAB Law the accused is provided the opportunity to return looted public money at the Inquiry or Investigation stages. At the Inquiry stage it is called VR and if it happens at Investigation stage it is termed as Plea Bargain. The request for return is completely an accused’s decision. NAB evaluates the offer and if he is willing to return the looted money alongwith the “Consequential Gains” the same may be accepted. Through VR the accused escapes criminal liability.

(b).      However, if the accused makes the offer to return ill gotten monies at Investigation stage, then it is called Plea Bargain. PB is possible only after approval by the Accountability Court. PB also has other implications as it is a deemed conviction. The accused will be debarred from holding a public office and availing of any loan facility for 10 years. A govt. servant will loose his job.
(c).       It is re-emphasized that amount determined by NAB is non-negotiable and is required to be paid by the accused in 3 equal installments. Secondly all monies recovered from accused are deposited in the Federal Consolidated Fund; NAB cannot retain a penny out of it. The total monies recovered by NAB till to date is Rs.265 Billion. It is out of these recoveries that  the affectees of Double Shah Scam, Co-operative Societies Scams and Housing Societies Scams, to name only a few, have been paid their long outstanding dues.

He said that an effective accountability mechanism is quintessential for economic growth, investment and stability of social order. The intervention by NAB has acted as a catalyst, as transparency is a prerequisite for promoting investment and economic growth. Since its inception, NAB had adopted the Enforcement based approach in its fight against corruption.  But I must say that corruption is too complex a phenomenon to be controlled with the Enforcement Strategy alone. Controlling corruption on a sustainable and long term basis requires a broader vision and multi faceted strategy, which banks heavily on Awareness and Prevention of corruption in addition to the Enforcement approach. Special focus is therefore being given to Awareness and Prevention activities to educate the people at large about ill effects of corruption. Youth is the future of Pakistan; therefore NAB has laid special emphases on youth. Character Building Societies (CBS) are being set up in educational institutions across the country to build an effective edifice against corruption. An MOU has been signed in October 2014 with HEC in this respect.

He said that National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) formulated in 2002 is being upgraded in collaboration with Planning Commission of Pakistan to cater to the present day requirements. It is encouraging for NAB that for the first time Anti-Corruption has been made a part of development agenda in Pakistan in the context of Governance. The Planning Commission of Pakistan has included a chapter devoted to issues of corruption in the 11th five year plan and we intend to work closely with Planning Commission to achieve the goals set in the 11th five years plan for eradication of corruption. National Strategy to fight corruption has started yielding results. Improvement of Pakistan in CPI ratings is a clear indication.

He said that fighting corruption is a Herculean task. I may remind you that the only thing which helped Hercules perform his mythical labours was his refusal to resign to the magnitude of his problem and his refusal to accept his plight as a fait accompli. I have mentioned this because I believe that the most harmful consequences of this endemic corruption in a society are the culture of acceptance, the culture of resignation and the culture of apathy. Any serious effort to combat corruption must start with this realization that it is our collective social responsibility; that it would result in common good and that we all are together in this war.

He said that a corruption free Pakistan will remain a dream unless we the citizens of Pakistan refuse to tolerate or accept corruption as a way of life. It will remain an elusive ideal unless we generate a strong political will to wipe out corruption and raise honest public representatives who can carry out this gigantic task without any fear of the high and mighty and without any favour to the moneyed and the well connected. Therefore I would like to solicit your support in this National effort. Every single member of society has to make an effort by setting personal, professional and official conduct above any type of influence and prejudice. All the stakeholders have to adopt and demonstrate absolute fairness and transparency in discharge of their duties. Parents have to teach their children how abhorrent and detestable corruption is. The intelligentsia, the academia and media have to sensitize the people about the adverse impact of corruption on our society and economy. Lets demonstrate zero tolerance towards corruption; lets say a firm, rather a thumping, ‘No’ to corruption and break the corruption chain.

He said that I assure you that we at NAB are determined and committed to perform our national duty with absolute objectivity, professionalism, unimpeachable integrity and without any leanings for or against anybody. We have decided to lay hands on all those involved in mega corruption cases irrespective of political or social standing. With your support I am convinced that corruption can be uprooted. I am convinced that we can make corruption an unaffordable choice for the corrupt. I am convinced that we can leave a better Pakistan for our future generations. NAB’s motto is “Say NO to Corruption”. I hope you will spread it far and wide.

Earlier, Mr. Aziz Memon – President English Speaking Union Pakistan also spoke on the occasion and heighted the purpose for establishment and achievements of English Speaking Union Pakistan.