The government has managed to curtail the powers and the jurisdiction of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in a new amendment that seeks to address the concerns of several stakeholders. The new ordinance will benefit businessmen and the bureaucracy, as it will only investigate those holding a public office and that too with an offense that surpasses an amount of Rs500 million. This move will be welcomed by the aforementioned communities as it will allow them to function without the fear of NAB prosecutions that had become too public before the inquiry was completed and any person was found guilty.

Several other improvements include the physical remand that has been brought down from 90 to 14 days, allowing the suspects to seek bail sooner than later. At the same time, the burden of proof has been shifted from the suspect to the prosecution, making it easier for those who are kept in captivity without any concrete proof of the matter. NAB has also been advised to stay away from the media until references in the cases have been submitted. This is a welcomed decision by the government, however, it needs to be adopted by the parliament in order for it to stick. Otherwise, as soon as the tenure is over, NAB will retain all of its powers.

There are other government bodies that can work to investigate such crimes. Several legal experts are of the opinion that the power and jurisdiction of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) will increase now as NAB will almost become dormant. NAB’s power over the years expanded unchecked, giving it the authority to take over cases and investigate as they please, with no consequence or questioning regarding the treatment during the 90 days of physical remand. This check and balance are necessary, especially if it aims to do away with the concerns of the scared businessmen and the bureaucracy.

However, while this may be good news for several stakeholders wishing to avoid investigation, the amendment of the law does not mean anyone will go without investigation in Pakistan. Any person or any agenda counterintuitive to the national interest of Pakistan will be questioned before the law of the country. The aim of this amendment is to reduce the uncertainty within government bodies and the business community to improve the current outcomes of the system.