Those who rule us

I once wrote on article on the subject of “ghairat” (self-respect, pride) and clarified the difference between “ghairatmand” and “baighairat.” Many people, both from within Pakistan and abroad, communicated their appreciation through emails and letters. As was to be expected, there were also those who could not bear to face the pain of what was written.

I am not a politician, nor am I affiliated with any party, but I do take an interest in the affairs of the country. I am happy when I see something good happening in Pakistan (which is rare these days) and saddened to see the country going to the dogs. At the moment two events are in public focus and they have made us the laughingstock of the world. When a matter is continuously being discussed in the media, there is definitely some truth to it. Even the Honourable Chief Justice could not resist passing such a remark.

The two matters that are keeping the whole nation busy are the Memogate scandal and the refusal by Prime Minister Gilani to write letters to the Swiss court to reopen the cases against Zardari. The prime minister is thereby disobeying clear orders issued by the Supreme Court. As far as the memo scandal is concerned, I have no doubt about the veracity of the charges. Had there been any trace of doubt, the chief of the army staff and the director general of the ISI would not have submitted supporting affidavits. While Mansoor Ijaz has submitted data and has waived his privacy rights, Haqqani has flatly refused to do so, presumably because it would expose his communications with his bosses in Pakistan.

The pace of progress of the commission is rather disappointing. It could have saved at least two months of the wasted time by recording Mansoor Ijaz’s testimony via video or by sending a judge to record the statement. No sane person would agree to come to Pakistan when Gilani and Rehman Malik have been openly threatening them with cases, ECL, etc. The public is not stupid. The majority of the public (and, in private, even some “jialas”) are sure that Zardari and two or three of his closest colleagues are behind Haqqani’s activities.

The other matter that has taken the nation hostage and has disgraced us in the eyes of the world are the money-laundering cases against Zardari in Switzerland. The PPP government has flatly refused to comply with the orders of the Supreme Court and the main culprit is Zardari’s stooge, Gilani. We see on an almost daily basis how PPP leaders shamelessly lie in defence of Zardari, without ever bringing up, or bothering to ask about, the $60 million stashed in Switzerland or the £7 million spent on buying Surrey Palace, not to mention the costly chalet in France.

They always talk of his having spent eight years in jail, forgetting that he was sent to jail by the judiciary, not by Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Farooq Laghari, Rafiq Tarar or Pervez Musharraf. He managed to postpone the dispensation of justice by innovative delaying tactics like non-availability of a lawyer, change of lawyers and fake health certificates. In the Swiss case he even submitted certificates declaring him mentally unfit to appear in court. Laghari had openly branded him a murderer. Aitzaz Ahsan surprised us all by taking U-turn in his position. If this was merely for a Senate seat, then it was definitely not worth his losing his good name.

As far as the money stashed in the Swiss and other banks is concerned, there is not an iota of doubt that it is money obtained through corruption. All the foreign bank accounts were in the names of Benazir Bhutto, Nusrat Bhutto and Zardari. It is on record that the Swiss court convicted both Benazir Bhutto and Zardari on Oct 29, 2007, for corruption and money laundering. Their appeal against this conviction was rejected by the Swiss Court of Appeals on March 19, 2008, the time the PPP came to power.

The judge was about to confirm the conviction and order a jail sentence when the then attorney general, Justice Qayyum, rushed to Switzerland with a letter requesting the Swiss court to close the proceedings, because under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), all had become as innocent as newborn babes. It was an illegal act by Justice Qayyum. Soon afterwards, the high commissioner in London, Zardari’s confidant, was rushed to Geneva to collect the incriminating evidence. Everyone believes that all damaging papers have meanwhile been removed and destroyed. Had Justice Qayyum gone to Switzerland slightly later than he did, the judge would already have convicted Zardari, who would have become ineligible for any public office.

When the Supreme Court declared the NRO void ab initio, Zardari legally became ineligible for public office. The Supreme Court could have easily sent him home at that time and heavens would not have fallen on Pakistan. Senate Chairman Farooq Naek would have become president, things would soon have settled down and the country would have been saved from the disrespect shown to the Supreme Court. We, the common Pakistanis, are at a loss to understand the necessity and advisability of that clear legal order not being enforced.

Unfortunately, in our country flexibility in enforcing the law has done much harm to our legal, social and administrative system. Similarly, the question of writing the letter could have been sorted out within a few days by sending the registrar with a letter from the Supreme Court to the Swiss court. Justice Qayyum (or Justice Irshad Hassan Khan) had sent an official to Switzerland to get copies of all papers relating to corruption. It was done without any hassle or delay.

Babar Awan and other “jialas” of the Pakistan People’s Party have, rather mischievously, said that Shahbaz Sharif should initiate a case of treason against Musharraf. If that is the extent of their legal knowledge, then their licences should be revoked. A case of treason can only be registered by the federal government. Aitzaz Ahsan was heard saying that the person who had proclaimed the NRO was enjoying life abroad and nobody was doing anything about it. Well, who benefited most from the NRO and who arranged for a guard of honour for the dictator at his departure? Not not the Pakistani public, but Zardari, Gilani and their cronies.

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