This is a seriously amnesic nation — and one that lacks a conscience when it comes to the cheerful acceptance of wrong, even criminality. The reaction of seemingly sane and rational minds to the news — or ‘revelations’ as many term them — from sunny Panama is extraordinary in the extreme. We have been told time and time again, over the past two decades, that our leaderships are anything but averse to making a quick mega-buck at the expense of the Islamic Republic’s national exchequer. Snouts, political, industrial, commercial, military or whatever, have for yonks had their snouts deeply embedded in the national half-empty trough.
Lies, pure mendacity, are rife and we know that. We accept the lies, knowing they are lies, get on with our laughable ‘free and fair’ electing into power, or ‘hailing’ those who usurp power, until the fall from grace inevitably arrives and then we turn on them. Corruption coupled with thievery there has always been, since the inception of the country and the grab for refugee properties. But it had some sort of limits until the coming of President General Ziaul Haq when his generals and his political proteges upped the ante considerably — the era that the Sharif family came into their own, consolidating by means mainly foul, sometimes fair, their enviable empire.
Then came the decade of the PPP and the PML-N, alternating in the great corruption stakes. Their methods differed somewhat, members of the former had no qualms about directly and blatantly using the ‘percentage’ (and other less gentle) methods to garner unlawful goodies. The latter went about it via the banks and twisting and twirling laws, rules and regulations. The Zulfikar Ali Bhutto nationalisation of banks helped enormously. There were those who robbed as much as they could from these institutions with the purpose of not repaying, having successfully ‘fixed’ the relevant lawmakers, law dispensers and law enforcers.
Jamsheed Marker, our record breaking ambassador, writing in his most recent book Cover Point (OUP 2016) on his observation during the second Sharif stint as PM: “The increase in the acquisition of property and assets of the Nawaz Sharif family was epitomised in the opulent estate at Raiwind, which stood as a dismal addition to the legend of corruption in Pakistan. The contest between the Bhutto/Zardari dynasty and the Nawaz Sharif dynasty in the realms of corruption is a close run thing. It is difficult to tell the difference…”
That truly pathetic and unnecessary address to the nation by Sharif when the Panama uproar began was a litany of lies — as were the statements made on wealth and properties by his sons. There have been British Virgin Islands and Panamas for long years. Those who have expressed ‘shock’ over the ownership of property in London by the Sharifs are directed to the website of media-man Moeed Pirzada, where post-Panama, he has posted a column written by Ardeshir Cowasjee in May 2000 on “how money is lent and recovered in recognised practising democracies where law and order prevails”. Pirzada starts with a note “Read carefully how, forced by a London court in January 2000, the Sharif family paid up US $32 million to the Al-Towkeek Group in the Hudabiya Paper Mill case to save their London properties, 16, 16-A, 17 and 17-A.” These properties are listed in a schedule filed in the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, as being situated at 117-128 Park Lane, London. And not only to save these but also to save the court order being served on other companies owned by the defendants and to other creditors “in the state or states where any of them are registered”. The defendants requested, and the court agreed, that the mode and manner of repayment of the millions be not disclosed.
No court in the Sharifs’ own country could dare to act in like manner — we now know that some judges are also in the game. The army chief, namesake of our honourable prime minister, has stepped into the corruption breach. Let’s see how he deals with it.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2016.
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