It is in the DNA. Genetics is a science that tells us about how hereditary genes influence biology and approach. Many family histories predict the tendency of a body to be receptive towards various virus and explains the disposition to house them and create damage in generations to come. It seems after HIV and many other diseases, Power Immune Virus (PIV) has become common in the world and unlike HIV it seems to find no cure. The rise of Trump and his constant exercise of ‘executive power’ has become a great example of PIV. Erdogan’s annexation of presidential powers and clamping down on opposing voices is another. But more locally, the ex-prime minister’s unabashed abuse of power despite being disqualified tops it all.
The Supreme Court disqualified the prime minister on non-disclosure of assets. The Capital FZE company in UAE of which he was the chairman was not declared in his election application. There is an outrage by him and his family on being disqualified for a salary of a few thousands which he never withdrew. There is a whole narrative being developed by him and his loyalists that it was a very petty decision, that for not withdrawing a few thousand dirhams the Supreme Court dared to disqualify him. The emphasis is not on hiding a company or a position or a salary or another residency, the emphasis is on the amount and scale. What in other words he is implying is that non- disclosures only matter if they are mega in scale. This is understandable coming from a mindset of a prime minister who brushed aside questions on corruption saying there was so much of it that it was too time consuming to curb it.
After his disqualification, his behaviour has become even more questionable. A prime minister who has been disqualified five-zero for deception by the Supreme Court and who has heavy references of corruption being processed in NAB is now ordering his workers to arrange a welcome and celebration for his homecoming in Punjab. Compare this with the ouster of the South Korean president by the Supreme Court of Korea. All eight justices on the Constitutional Court voted to disqualify her. The justices said the president had “continuously” violated the law and the constitution. The court concluded that the president facilitated her friend Choi Soon-sil extract bribes from South Korean conglomerates and had personally asked big businesses for donations. She leaked confidential documents to Choi, tried to cover up her wrongdoings then lied about it. The justices also chastised Park Geun-Hye for refusing to answer questions about the case. She was handcuffed and lives in a jail till the trail is over.
On the contrary the ex-prime minister has constantly ridiculed the judiciary for failing to catch him on a big ‘enough’ crime claiming that anybody with a majority vote cannot be disqualified by the judiciary. He claims that the Supreme Court could not prove a single rupee corruption on him. He is right that not a single rupee corruption has been proven on him but billions stowed away have been discovered by the JIT and have been sent to NAB for trial and conviction. The Supreme Court asked NAB to file a first reference against the PM and his children relating to properties including flats no 16, 16-A, 17 and 17-A at Avenfield House, Park Lane area of London, United Kingdom. That is just the beginning.
The court also asked to file reference against the PM and his family in connection with Azizia Steel Company and Hill Metal Establishment. NAB was also directed to file reference against them for possessing ‘16 companies’. These include Flagship Investments Limited, Hartstone Properties Limited, Que Holdings Limited, Quint Eaton Place 2 Limited, Quint Saloane Limited (formerly Quint Eaton Place Limited), Quaint Limited, Flagship Securities Limited, Quint Gloucester Place Limited, Quint Paddington Limited (formerly Rivates Estates Limited), Flagship Developments Limited, Alanna Services Limited (BVI), Lankin SA (BVI), Chadron Inc, Ansbacher Inc, Coomber Inc and Capital FZE (Dubai).
That is why the panic and the Nehal Hashmi-style retaliation against the Supreme Court. With a history of attacking the Supreme Court physically, when court orders are questioning his corruption Nawaz Sharif use of taxpayers’ money to show street power and intimidate the court as physical attack with a genuine opposition and an active social media is no longer possible. However, the DNA has and will overshadow all strategies of the government. The street power show has exposed further misuse of public office and corrupt practices of the government. The prime minister left the Prime Minister House and shifted to Punjab House and has been living off public funds with gay abandon. Disqualified to head party meetings, he has been heading them with utter disregard for rules. The new prime minister with his heavy cabinet is busy expressing his gratitude to the ex-prime minister by putting all government resources at his disposal while ministers and MNAs are literally dancing in attendance to him en route the rally. Councilors and mayors are in competition for posting and pasting the biggest billboards and the highest number of flexes and banners on GT Road and Lahore displaying their undying loyalty.
Unfortunately, this loyalty of office-holders is blatant and shameless misuse of public funds and is thus corruption up close and front. Pictures of currency notes being showered by party loyalists are symbolic of this ‘money money money’ mindset. For years this practice of “once in government I have the licence to do whatever” attitude was accepted as part of a ‘nascent’ democracy. With a compromising opposition, controlled media and suppressed courts this script in the DNA became entrenched. The story of being wronged, escaping and returning as a victim formula worked well in his previous two terms. However, with a vigilant opposition, independent media and courts, Nawaz Sharif may be unlucky the third time.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2017.