Islamabad -Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Admiral (Retd) Fasih Bokhari, Monday said the country cannot be purged of corruption unless the system is reformed; otherwise, all the efforts of corruption watchdogs would go in vain.

“Without correcting the system the agencies would be chasing the thieves without being able to stop the growth of thieves that has reached unmanageable proportion today throughout Pakistan right down to local government level,” the NAB chief said talking to the newsmen here.

He said the governance structure in Pakistan has been distracted over the years to allow corrupt practices within the current rules, laws and Constitution. The reason why prevention is used as primary tool in all advance countries is so that systemic flaws are identified and removed so that corrupt practices cannot be continued under distracted and discretionary clauses of law enforced. He said as the apex accountability body of Pakistan, it is incumbent on NAB to advise federal and provincial governments on system to eliminate corrupt practices.

“This activity is more important today and takes priority of enforcement and catching thieves who are numerous for the limited capacity of NAB to cope with,” he remarked, adding that the use of NAB in the past as tool against political opponents distracted it from its more important functions and gave rise to greater corruption down to the lowest level. He said the NAB is all set to present an immediate and long-term action plan to the new government to strengthen its anti-corruption efforts by adopting preventive methods.

He said NAB was determined to follow the new government’s declared intent of zero tolerance for corruption and full promotion of meritocracy for good governance.

Bokhari said NAB was actively pursuing an expansion plan and has decided to set up three new regions for eradication of corruption and better monitoring of its activities across the country. “This expansion is part of the programme to reach out to district level and be more responsive to complaints of the general public,” he said, adding that the new regions would be established in Multan, Sukkur and Gilgat-Baltistan that had also been decided in recently held director generals’ conference. He said the DGs conference had also agreed that the Bureau would have its own police force for effective security and field operations.

Moreover, the NAB had already approached the Caretaker Prime Minister for getting two of its wings back including Economic Crime Wing and Anti-Corruption Wing from FIA to strengthen the Bureau. He said NAB has recently released annual report showing that during 2012, the NAB had registered 7,565 complaints, completed 392 inquiries, filed 95 references, and recovered Rs 25 billion.  He said the NAB authorised 232 fresh inquiries in 2012, raising pendency to 978 including the backlog of 746 inquiries. Out of total investigation cases, 147 have been finalised while the remaining 232 are under process, said the annual report that is a statutory requirement.

During the year 2012, the NAB also recommended placement of 192 accused on the exit control list (ECL) through the ministry of interior.

During the year 2012, Bureau filed 95 references in the accountability courts, making a total of 719 cases, including 624 cases already pending in the trial courts.

He said the report highlighted the NAB role of setting priorities of prevention as a mechanism to precede enforcement, emergent and quick recovery of looted money, mega cases to be accorded priority and interaction through meetings with stakeholders.