Peshawar: Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaaf’s Government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has created its own anti-corruption commission called Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab (Accountability) Commission (KPEC) to convict the offenders who usually get scot-free because of the privilege and influence they enjoy either being in the public office or for having the support of the government officers.
Created from an act of KP’s Provincial Assembly, the KPEC Act, 2014 is an independent and autonomous body with a clear task to restore citizens’ trust in the government and public offices. The establishment of this commission is another step by the KP government, to eliminate corruption through accountability and good governance, the other being the Right to Information Act, 2013.
The commission has so far arrested almost 40 officials and bureaucrats from various departments including education, health, minerals, police, excise and taxation, and Peshawar Development Authority.
The commission’s biggest success came about when it arrested Ziaullah Afridi, the minister for mines and minerals on July 9 this year, for misusing his authority to misappropriate funds that caused billion of rupees of loss to the provincial exchequer.
PTI’s legislator, Shaukat Ali Yousafzai, while extolling his government’s drive against corruption says that the failure of the federally operated National Accountability Bureau (NAB) compelled the KP government to initiate its own accountability policy. The Ehtesab commission is the manifestation of the policy.
“Cases are pending with the NAB for years now. NAB has become politicized and is reluctant to start investigations against the power lords such as the former president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari. In fact, NAB encourages white collar crimes by not putting thumb on the scale of justice to convict a big fish,” said Yousafzai
PTI consider the arrest of a sitting minister, on the charges of corruption a feather in its governance cap. PTI argues that for the first time in the history of Pakistan, a sitting minister had been arrested that shows PTI’s commitment to curbing the menace of corruption.
For many this commission is just an eyewash.
To Latif Afridi a senior lawyer from KP, who was also a provincial minister in the previous government led by the Awami National Party, the commission was created to victimize political rivals.
“The commission is targeting officials who are associated either through friendship or relations with the Pakistan People’s Party or the Awami National Party,” Afridi pointed out.
He further added that the arrest of Ziaullah Afridi was the outcome of PTI internal differences and had nothing to do with the so-called anti-corruption drive.
“By targeting its own minister, the provincial government wants to give an impression that the KPEC is impartial. The constitution of this commission is thoroughly flawed.” In the presence of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1947, the Federal Investigation Agency and the NAB ordinance 1999, there was no need to create another investigative body, he added.
“According to Article 143 of the Constitution of Pakistan, when a federal law exists on a particular subject the provincial law on the same subject becomes invalid. In the presence of NAB ordinance, the KPEC has no legal status,” said Afridi.
Arif Yousaf, the adviser to the Chief Minister KP on law affairs, told the News Lens Pakistan that the PTI government had taken into account every legal procedure while developing the commission. It neither favors nor victimizes the suspect. If the commission finds that Ziaullah Afridi has committed financial corruption he would be tried and convicted accordingly and if he comes out clean, he would resume his office and restart his ministerial duties. The due process is the hallmark of this commission.
“The PTI government has terminated 400 corrupt police officials and 800 corrupt teachers,” said Yousaf.