By Wajid Shamsul Hasan
The post Panama leaks charade has been the divine retribution all the way. When PPP Parliamentarians were moving the 18th Amendment they sought support of the other major political party in the Parliament- the PML-N led by Nawaz Sharif to join hands to bury the curse of General Zia ul Haq Articles 62 and 63 regarding the fictional notion of essential qualification to be member of Parliament. In his insatiable lust for absolute power MNS haunted by his dream of becoming AmirulMomineen refused to join hands with PPPP. His preference to sustain 62 and 63 in memory of his political godfather was as lethal a contribution as was General Zia’s subversion of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s liberal and secular dialogical raison d’être for the establishment of a country where religion was not to have anything to do with the business of the state. And today he is reaping the bitter fruit of the seeds he thought he had sowed to make him all powerful.
As expected Mian Nawaz Sharif’s legacy has been fatally dented by the historic Supreme Court judgment of July 28 even if Mian sahib and his loyalists are putting up a brave face that though charged for mega corruption, he was disqualified for his UAE Aqama and for not taking his salary defined for tax purposes as ‘receivable’ irrespective of the fact he had undermined the august office of the Prime Minister of Muslim world’s only nuclear power. In Daily Times on the eve of the judgment I had commented that it shall become a precursor to the future accountability process gaining momentum under the vigilant supervision of the higher courts. A strong mechanism of accountability needs to be put in place to strengthen institutions rather than a few families or be used as weapon of political vendetta. I had forewarned that there is a lesson in the whole episode if seen from the political point of view. Since Pakistani politics revolves around families, and the power game is the preserve of a few influential families the country’s politics has been a hostage to oligarchies including dark state. It is understandable that the PML-N’s media musketeers have ridiculed the judgment on the grounds that the major issue regarding London flats has not been commented upon but a non-issue was made a cause for disqualification. Prima facie it appears a justified objection but the loyalists are missing the main point or trying deliberately to deflect the attention about the whole case.
The real issue was telling Goebellian lies to the people about whom MNS and other public figures claim to represent. Known for their short memory, PML-N’s Chief Honcho and his band-wagoners forgot that American President Bill Clinton told the lie to the nation on Monika Lewinsky scandal and when proven wrong by the media and lawyers, he did not hesitate to tender apology and swallow what used to be the fruit of his pleasure in the Oval Office. Therefore, MNS and his legal eagles forgot the political picture in the whole episode which revolves around perceptions- irrespective of the claims he or his lawyers may have presented to the apex court. There are no two views that the prevalent perception about MNS is that his family is filthy rich; the family lives like lords whether in Pakistan or abroad. His $ 3 million dollar wrist watch has been a subject of national and international media. Just imagine about a Prime Minister of a country which claims to be a nuclear power and who himself is fond of showing around in London’s classy watch shop toying with expensive watch with no guilt qualm to be leader of a poor country that had to eat grass to acquire nuclear teeth while keeping over million children without education, sustainable succour or even minimal healthcare. Just imagine about Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, whose rags to riches story cannot be quoted for emulation. His family’s alleged wealth agitates scores of questions as to what magic wand this family has got that their proverbial Midas touch turns dust into gold.
The judgment and the JIT findings lead into elusive money trail of the black money or white collar crimes to Gulf States. When one mentions the mysteriously shrouded Qatri Sheikh, it shows how shady things are done. Black money from Pakistan is sent to any of the Gulf state where one has contacts with local men in pelf and power. The money is transferred through Havala, once it lands in a Gulf state it is whitened through the services of an established business house on payment of certain percentage. From there the whitened money is transferred into offshore company’s accounts.
Once it is whitened, the money can be transferred anywhere in the world. For Pakistanis, the favourite destination is UK, Canada and US respectively. No wonder when one looks around he finds a Pakistani big wig doing the profitable rounds. Interestingly, this racket is just not limited to Pakistanis; black money from South and Central Asia, Russia as well as Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is siphoned off for onward transmission to the centres of capitalism in the West.
The disqualification of MNS has set the tone of future political paradigm. Known fly by night rich politicians who change their loyalties for safer pastures shall have to be extra vigilant when submitting their credentials for scrutiny for public offices. One would agree with PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari who while welcoming the Supreme Court verdict said that everyone should be held accountable for which necessary and effective legislation is the need of the hour. Strong mechanism of accountability needs to be put in place to strengthen institutions rather than few families or used as weapon of political vendetta as had been the case during Mian Sahib’s second tenure when his Accountability Tara Masih Senator SaifurRehman got forced conviction of martyred Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari from the Accountability court headed by Justice Qayum.
‘Former High Commissioner of Pakistan and a veteran journalist’.