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The Letter by Chairman NAB to President Zardari

Please accept my gratitude for supporting unhindered execution of my mandate. Large recoveries have been made (about Rs 25 Billion). The Prevention activity of focusing on the current procurement and projects of Rs. 1.5 Trillion to eliminate possible corrupt practices, and the disclosure of heavy daily wastage of revenue and state owned resources indicative of decade’s old systemic flaws is being addressed by the Government.

However I write to you at a critical juncture in the history of our country when our people anxiously await free and fair elections. At this juncture all political players appear unanimous and united to respond to the aspirations of their countrymen. There is broad consensus that non political players must not be allowed to derail the political process. The Military has made its position clear and firmly stands with the people.

I am constrained to observe and bring to your notice that the position of the Honorable Supreme Court, on this issue, remains clouded by actions that are bearing heavily on my mandate to strictly abide by the NAO in both letter and spirit, as the time for elections approaches.

The clear line between the recognized authority of the Supreme Court to monitor NAB investigations to the limited extent of ensuring fair investigation, and itself becoming involved in guiding investigations, appears to be becoming breached as a norm as the elections near. Contempt notices, verbal orders that differ from written orders, and insufficient time to prepare numerous progress reports, are placing extreme pressure on NAB personnel who appear before the Honorable Judges. There is even a danger that NAB personnel could lose their independence and are unable to carry out their investigations in an independent manner due to the pressure being exerted on them by the Honorable Supreme Court to proceed along lines which seem to be desired by the SC. In relieving this pressure, to safeguard their jobs, and so as not to displease the Honorable Court, there is danger of unfair investigation being resorted to. This phenomenon is observable in the investigation of very senior politicians of the government where orders, to even arrest them, have been issued on investigation reports of regional investigators that had yet to reach the Executive Board Meeting at NAB Headquarters that is chaired by me. This could be construed as a clear violation of the powers of the Chairman NAB, and to some degree circumventing the NAO which I am required by law to follow. The NAO in my view as it remains law passed by Parliament represents the will of the people and as such I am bound to follow it. The National Accountability Ordinance mandates that no reference can be filed until I have been allowed to exercise my mind, and decide that a clear case of criminality has been made out. I would be failing in my statutory duty if I shirk from upholding the law that I am mandated to protect. Let me assure you, Mr. President that I will not flinch from prosecuting whosoever may be identified as having committed a criminal act under the National Accountability Ordinance. All are equal before the law. The nation expects that there be no sacred cows, nor raging bulls.

I am constrained to also bring to your notice the revolt within NAB, clearly abetted by a certain section of the media that used the sad demise of Mr. Kamran Faisal to vilify me and some senior NAB officers. This section of the media appears to be acting as an intelligence unit influencing the public, and possibly influencing certain members of the judiciary. Long standing “stay” on taxes to be paid by this media house appears to be relevant also.This campaign, in which the role of the Honorable Supreme Court appears evident, is placing great pressure on me to please the Honorable Supreme Court in what could be seen as pre-poll rigging, and hurried unlawful action on my part.

Mr. President, I resigned my commission as Chief of the Naval Staff just prior to a Military coup rather than violate my oath to the Constitution. I was part of The Pakistan Ex Servicemen Association contingent that came on the streets protesting against the infamous 3rd November Emergency, and later for the movement for independence of the Judiciary. It is a sacred duty of every Pakistani to uphold, be guided by, and fiercely protect the Law and Constitution.

I fear that in the current direction that the Honorable Supreme Court appears to be taking, I will not be able to perform my independent statutory role. This situation needs to be addressed firmly in line with the aspirations of the people, and the clear mandatory provisions of the Law and the Constitution.

Although not directly within my mandate, as a citizen I am concerned about the current priority vital national interest (VNI) of achieving national cohesion before being able to address lower priority VNI such as HDI, Economic acceleration, infrastructure development, etc. Relevant state institutions must look carefully at the possible role of members of the judiciary, and a section of the media, in undermining state institutions, and the confidence of the people in the state itself.

The Ombudsman offices were established to also address human rights issues. The need to allow the Honorable SC to be diverted from its prime roles as the final Appellate and Constitutional Court may need to be addressed since ability to take Suo Moto notice of human rights cases can become an open license to undermine government, and may be taking time away from addressing the issues of judicial management of the current huge pendency of cases in our courts. In the absence of timely justice the people are forced to take the law into their own hands and their anger becomes focused on their governments. The essence of law is to provide a moral benchmark to society. That benchmark is sadly being lost by a judiciary that may be fast losing its own moral authority by relying on the contempt law, media, street power of lawyers, and unchecked violations of the Supreme Court Judges code of conduct.

For the well being of our people justice must be ensured, while protecting them from those who would callously allow “the heavens to fall”. Should these issues not be addressed expeditiously I will regretfully be forced to tender my resignation.

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