To call the Supreme Court’s suo motu hearing into the Arsalan Iftikhar bribery scandal a cover-up would be unfair. After all, the Court has clearly said that if it is established that the son-in-law of business tycoon, Malik Riaz, did indeed pay for the foreign trips of the chief justice’s son, then the matter should be investigated by the attorney general of Pakistan. But, at the same time, the short order spends some time on the importance of the Court’s reputation and how it must be protected at all costs. While there is no denying that that is the case, and all Pakistanis would want to see that happen, the matter more at hand was whether Malik Riaz’s very serious allegations against Arsalan Iftikhar were true or not. They seem to have been relegated given that the short order dwells in some detail on the matter of the Court’s reputation being besmirched in the eyes of the general public. Furthermore, if the matter has now been passed on to the attorney general, with the short order declaring that the court and the chief justice stand absolved of any links with Malik Riaz, can the attorney general, in his investigation of the overall matter, be expected to re-visit the alleged link? The short order also cites Malik Riaz’s contention that the money he gave to Arsalan Iftikhar did not gain him any relief in the Court. For one, this still does not address the issue that perhaps the businessman was saying this because he felt this was the only way out of the mess that he himself had perhaps created.
Another question that remains is whether any inquiry will be initiated into checking how the son of the chief justice, in the space of four years, managed to build a business, which, by his own admission, is worth some Rs900 million. So far, this case has embroiled the judiciary, the media and politicians. The one institution that has been missing is the military. Senior retired officers have worked for Bahria Town and while that is no crime at all, there has also been close cooperation, at times, between that entity and various defence housing authorities, which are headed by senior serving officers. If there is to be a transparent investigation into all aspects of this matter, it should cover all facets.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2012.
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