Minister for States and Frontier Regions, Abdul Qadir Baloch, in a recent television talk show endorsed the government’s move against corruption, hours after PPP co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari accused the PML-N government of targeting leaders of his party in the name of accountability. Zardari, irate at the arrest of his party members, accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of a repeat of the political victimisation culture of the ‘90s.
The outburst from Zardari came after the arrests of former PPP Punjab president, Qasim Zia, Senator Saifullah Bangash’s son Shaukatullah Bangash, Dr Asim Hussain, chairman of the Sindh Higher Education Commission, and following the issuance of non-bailable arrest warrants for former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani and ex-commerce minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim over alleged financial malpractices. “If they want to conduct accountability fairly, they should first take action against the federal minister who gave a confessional statement before a magistrate that he was involved in money-laundering for the Sharif brothers. Only then will we know how clean PML-N supporters are,” was Zardari’s contention in an apparent reference to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s signed affidavit before a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) tribunal in a corruption reference against the Sharif brothers.
Earlier, the MQM too resigned en masse from the national and provincial assemblies, alleging political victimisation of the Urdu-speaking community, and its party workers and sympathisers soon after the ongoing crackdown against anti-social and anti-state elements in Karachi resulted in hundreds of suspects being rounded up. As is the norm amongst politicians in our country, PPP and MQM leaders too allege political victimisation of their sympathisers and workers. But, do such allegations of victimisation hold weight?
Mr Zardari certainly does have a valid point when he asks why Rana Mashhood has not been arrested after a video surfaced in which the provincial minister was seen receiving money on behalf of the Sharif brothers. Defiantly, Zardari further lambasted, “Those who killed 14 people, including women, in the Model Town incident, weren’t they terrorists? Why are they not being arrested?” He also demanded the Justice Najafi report on the Model Town incident to be made public. Meanwhile, on its part, the PML-N countered the PPP and MQM allegations by stating that such accusations only undermine the performance of the government and damage the image of the country.
Will Pakistan’s image be tarnished in the eyes of the international community if there is no across-the-board accountability or if accountability is seen as one-sided? Only time will tell. Such counter narratives are bound to persist until individuals within the PML-N cadre are also taken to task and made accountable.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2015.
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