A Wayward Son

By Saeed Qureshi
My reference is to Dr. Arsalan Iftikhar, the
flamboyant, fun-loving son of the incumbent iconic Chief Justice of Pakistan,
Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. He keeps exuding an innocent, mystifying, and
perhaps mocking smile against all odds and afflictions that he is faced with. Is
he a moron or a carefree individual or one suffering from autism as to put the
harsh realities at the tip of his shoe? He is devious and brazenly denies any
His face reflects a tinge of mockery or disdain and
nonchalant reaction to what was happening to him. Because of his propensity for
royal life with dirty money, the
sparkling reputation of his illustrious father has been
tarnished. Of all the persons his own son has joined the league of outlaws he is
trying to fix and bring to justice!
Malik Riaz Hussain, the arch and inimitable
Machiavellian character of Pakistan, made no bones in revealing his largesse and
slush money that he willingly spent on this juvenile and incorrigible show boy
to ostensibly rope him for slandering his father. His distinguished father is
dispensing justice with courage and conviction to the mighty and the low, to
unsavory characters and reprobates whose pastime has been to enhance their
lives, fortunes and power, at the expense of the people and the country.
There is always an “Achilles Heel” that humbles and
debilitates even the most invulnerable. That proverbial weak spot came handy in
the person of Dr. Arsalan to help Malik Riaz Hussain and his ilk to plug in an
anti- chief justice tirade as if to explode a bombshell in a crowded square. He
disclosed that he gave 34 crores in cash to Arsalan besides spending another one
and half crore on his foreign excursion tours.
Now this elephantine case being adjudicated by a bench
of leading justices seems to be losing its steam. The dialogues that take place
in the court room between the justices and the alleged felons and their counsels
look like stage dramas. As a result, the essence of the cases strays away and
loses its punch and rudder. What happens in a country like Pakistan is that even
the most proven and slam-dunk cases go awry and the accused are exonerated
because the witnesses go back on their previous statements.
Ostensibly the poor and weak witnesses are either
bribed or threatened to change their statements by the powerful thugs arraigned
before the courts. The case of PML-N, MNA Anjum Aqeel Khan and 15 others is a
testimony to this sordid game. A local court in Islamabad acquitted the main
culprit along with 15 other hooligans because the witnesses, including the
police personnel, changed their previous anti-accused statements in favor of the
felonious bunch.
In the wake of Arsalan’s case, Malik Riaz Hussain has
been amending his previous statement and stances. For instance, he denied his
own claim that he has handed out big sums of money to the leading journalists of
Pakistan. As a cunning businessman, he might have gauged that his sinister plan
to browbeat the chief justice through his son went awry. He now may even
recalibrate his earlier statement and evidence that he ever tried to blackmail
the intrepid chief justice through his son. He may even renege on the
oft-repeated claims that he ever bribed Arsalan or sponsored his glamorous
But would these retailored ploys and redrafted stances
would mollify the justices and they would accordingly ignore his earlier
statements and accept the lately contrived as credible to release him from legal
noose? Ostensibly the whole episode when seen objectively was to compel the
chief justice to go lenient on the gubernatorial cases pending against the
government functionaries and others, although the chief justice is not made of
the mettle to be cowed down.
The entire insidious plot was carefully crafted aimed
at manipulating combustible court decisions with regard to several prodigious
cases. First, the chief justice’s son was given enormous bribe and his foreign
tours, including one to Monte Carlo, were lavishly financed. The videos were
meticulously prepared and then the episode was deliberately floated. But the
chief justice did not budge; instead he issued a suo moto notice to put the
entire conspiracy in the reverse gear.
Now Dr. Arsalan’s lawyer Sardar Muhammad Ishaq Khan has
tried to rescue his client by injecting the ploy of procedural wrangling and
raising certain objections which might dilute or delay the verdict. Through a
legal notice on behalf Dr. Arsalan, he has questioned the impartiality and legal
standing of the NAB chairman Admiral (R) Fasih Bukhari to probe the case. He
alleged that the former naval chief , and now the head of NAB, and his family
have had close relationship with Malik Riaz Hussain.
He has also objected to the role of the attorney
general, by pleading that he has overstepped his mandate by referring the matter
to NAB for investigation. He did so, the counsel alleged, because of his bias
against the Chief Justice of Pakistan.
With such roadblocks created by the defense counsel,
the case might linger on for longer period of time and eventually fizzle out.
Several high profile cases such as the NRO, Memogate, Hajj, rental power and
many others have been caught up in the gridlock of procedural formalities or
delaying tactics by the accused parties.
However, in case of grafts and kickbacks, a receiver
should be held more culpable and liable than the giver. A graft giver could be
an honest person who might be hard-pressed and sternly blackmailed to grease the
palms of the manipulators to save his skin. Malik Riaz, the erstwhile chairman
of the fabulous Behria Town housing project and otherwise a noted
philanthropist, might have, on his own or at the behest of someone, entrapped
and allured the young and glamour crazy Dr. Arsalan. By offering huge amounts of
money to Arsalan the underlying objective could also be to stigmatize the chief
PML (Q) President Chaudhry Shujjat, in a recent
statement, lauded Malik Riaz’s various humanitarian services, one of which was
paying Rs 13 crores as ransom money for the release of Pakistanis captured by
Somali pirates.
(The writer is a senior journalist and a former