Shehzad Akbar’s resignation serves a serious blow to accountability process

Its aftershocks to be felt even in next elections

Published: 12:39 PM, 25 Jan, 2022
Shehzad Akbar’s resignation serves a serious blow to accountability process
Caption: File photo.
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Whether he resigned on his own or was asked to do so as some media reports suggest, the resignation of Mr Shehzad Akbar as adviser to prime minister on accountability will deal a serious blow to the already slow-paced accountability process.

This development is nothing short of a disaster and an irreparable loss to the ruling PTI, which is committed to taking all corrupt elements to task, irrespective of their political affiliations.

It’s true that nobody is indispensable but Mr Shehzad’s absence from the scene at this juncture will seriously affect the accountability process.

Whoever is appointed as his successor will take long to understand the working of the accountability process, the status of all ongoing cases and the strategy needed to take them forward. Going through tons of relevant documents will take time for the new entrant. As a result, the NAB may have to seek adjournments in many ongoing cases.

The timing of the development makes the development more unfortunate for the PTI.  The party of PM Imran Khan has already completed more than 40 months of its mandated five-year term. This is the time when the government is required to show its performance to the electorates. And since the accountability is the major commitment, people will be waiting for its achievements in this field.

Had the accountability been carried out effectively, most of the corrupt elements should have been behind the bars at present – and their accomplices should have been facing consequences of their misdoings. But nothing has happened so far. And no miracles can be expected in the foreseeable future.

Parties opposed to the very existence of the National Accountability Bureau will celebrate this situation. 

NAB Chairman Justice Javed Iqbal has already served out his four-year term and is continuing in office because of a presidential ordinance, under which he is supposed to stay on till the selection of his successor.

To pick up the new chairman, consultations between the prime minister and the leader of the opposition in the National assembly are a constitutional requirement. But the prime minister simply hates the leader of the opposition Mian Shehbaz Sharif and is not willing to shake hands with him, leave alone sharing the table for this important task. Only a few days ago he called him a national criminal because of his alleged corrupt practices.

The alternative procedure devised to find a new NAB chairman is yet to make any headway.

It is hard to speculate on how long the process can take to complete.

On the other hand the opposition parties the prime minister is committed to proceeding against are very well-informed, experienced.

This was established only a few days ago when a PML-N leader claimed in a TV programme that Mr Shehzad Akbar is on his way out. He said on this on January 17 and only a week later it proved true.

It can be claimed that the opposition parties are aware of many of the plans on the prime minister’ agenda and are preparing strategies to thwart them.

As for the long-term effects of Mr Shehzad Akbar’s resignation, they will be like a quake whose aftershocks will be felt even at the time of next elections. These elections are due to be held in 2023 but the opposition parties are mounting pressure to get them staged as soon as possible.  

During the election campaign, people will ask the PTI leaders about the results of the accountability process for which they had made very tall claims. And in response they will have nothing to show. This will provide the electorates with a good reason not to trust the PTI for a second time.

Ashraf Mumtaz

The writer is the Deputy Editor of 24 Digital.