Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar recently reprimanded the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for allowing information related to persons under investigation to be leaked to the media. Though the CJP did well to reprimand the accountability watchdog for putting the reputations of innocent people at risk, the truth is that damaging reputations is not the only technique NAB uses when it has decided to target someone. Like certain other pieces of legislation which continue to hold the people of this country hostage, 1999’s National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) was passed during a military dictatorship. NAB and the NAO can also only target civilians. But before we get into why civilian politicians can find themselves before NAB courts but not members of the judiciary or military, we must ask ourselves why our country needs NAB courts in the first place. Pakistan certainly does have a big problem with corruption and tax evasion, but we will not be able to solve these issues as long as we depend on special courts rather than the mainstream judicial process. Furthermore, NAB courts do not respect the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ either. Combined with the watchdog’s power to arrest someone arbitrarily, NAB becomes a highly effective weapon to neutralise someone politically. This politicisation is why its accountability drives fail to make a significant dent in corruption, since its powers are always applied selectively. In his August 11 speech, the founder of our country Muhammad Ali Jinnah called corruption a poison that must be put down with an iron hand. Sadly, we have failed to accomplish this as a country, and as a consequence common Pakistanis have suffered. We must do away with NAB courts and review the NAO. The higher judiciary must work to enforce austerity through the mainstream judicial system. Pakistan cannot be corruption free as long as accountability drives have ulterior motives. The writer is a Karachi based lawyer Published in Daily Times, August 22nd 2018.