NAB: Anti-corruption crusaders with wide powers.

Created by military ruler late General Pervez Musharraf and currently headed by a retired general, the National Accountability Court (NAB) - Pakistan's powerful anti-graft agency that arrested former prime minister Imran Khan in a land fraud case - has the mandate to end corruption in the country.

The anti-corruption watchdog has investigated, tried and jailed at various times all prime ministers since 2008 including current premier Shehbaz Sharif, former president Asif Ali Zardari, and other top political figures.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court said that the NAB's arrest of Imran Khan, who was removed from prime ministership via a vote of no-confidence in April last year - for graft was illegal.

Below are some facts about NAB and its working.

Launch

NAB began operations in 1999 under a chairman who was a former army general. It is headquartered in Islamabad, with regional offices in all major cities.

Working

It is an autonomous body but analysts and politicians say that it has often been used as a tool to crack down on the opposition in the country.

However, the anti-corruption watchdog denies any misuse of its powers.

It has its own investigators, unbridled powers of arrest as well as prison cells to hold suspects. NAB has prosecutors and judges and runs its own courts, separate from the main judicial system.

PM Shehbaz was arrested by the agency and detained for several months in 2020 when he was an opposition leader in Khan's parliament.

It investigates only public office holders and government officials as per law but there have been complaints by businessmen that they have also been investigated and tried.

Investigations and subsequent trials can take months, at times years, and suspects can be locked up during that period.

Mandate

NAB's mandate is to eliminate corruption through enforcement, prosecution, awareness and prevention, according to the law ministry, and establish a legal framework for the drive against corruption.

Controversial

The agency has been controversial since its inception, mainly...

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