After the lack of showdown at the SC, Ansar Abbasi and the Jang Group run for cover – by Ahmed Iqbalabadi

How bad a person is Babar Awan? He is such a mean man! We were all expecting fireworks at the Supreme Court yesterday but all he did was play it down for 90 minutes, answer the judges and leave very successfully. And to top it all, a judge said “We didn’t summon the Law Minister!” Whooa! What happened there? Jang Group? Ansar Abbasi? Shahid Masood? Tariq Butt? What happened? Are you still alive? Their loss of words can be seen from the the headlines in today’s The News:

Babar Awan wins ceasefire, but only temporarily – Tariq Butt

Over Rs 17bn more loans revealed by Hamesh Khan – Ansar Abbasi

NAB in two minds – Tariq Butt

Citibank, Swiss official have admitted Zardari had dollar accounts – Ahmed Noorani

Honestly, I don’t even want to waste my time and energy to read what these “reports” say.

Those who are anticipating fireworks today on the matter of Hamesh Khan i.e. Ansar Abbasi and Ahmed Noorani are likely to be disappointed today. Till now the only update they have been able to give is that Hamesh Khan has been allowed by the SC to see his family.

On the matter of Ansar Abbasi, he was in “Off The Record” on ARY One ( yesterday evening. Other participants were Sheikh Rasheed and Latif Khosa. Latif Khosa took Ansar Abbasi to task very well causing the discussion on the $60 million to move to Oil for food program allegations, to Surrey Palace to US Senate “case study” on Asif Zardari’s Money Laundering etc. Well done Khosa Sahab. Latif Khosa constantly hit at the “Creativity” of Ansar Abbasi’s investigation.

I feel that after the lack of showdown at the SC, Ansar Abbasi is now going to run for cover and will raise the matter of Hamesh Khan hoping for a statement in which some government functionaries are implicated. Hopefully, he’ll be disappointed again!

9 responses to “After the lack of showdown at the SC, Ansar Abbasi and the Jang Group run for cover – by Ahmed Iqbalabadi”

  1. Search for Tariq Butt in the Banned and Anti Pakistan Magazine founded by Shaheen Sehbai i.e. South Asia Tribune and you may find many articles/columns brazenly favouring THE MOST CORRUPT PERSON ON EARTH i.e. Asif Ali Zardari. Tariq Butt used to attack Pakistan Army right and left in his reports in South Asia Tribune.


    Editor South Asia Tribune placed on Exit Control List ECL Removed from NAB Web Site WASHINGTON DC, July 22, 2005 | ISSN: 1684-2057 |

    Musharraf Asks US to Silence His US-based Critics

    By M T Butt

    ISLAMABAD, July 22: The Editor of the South Asia Tribune, Shaheen Sehbai, the Washington-based journalist and critic of Pakistani General Pervez Musharraf, has been placed by the Government of Pakistan on the infamous Exit Control List (ECL), which bans its citizens to leave the country.

    The move comes as Pakistan’s intelligence agencies have made an informal request to the US authorities to “contain” some of the US-based Pakistani writers and journalists who criticize the Musharraf Government “because they are harming Pakistani efforts to fight the US war on terror.”

    The ECL was up-dated on the web site of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on July 14, 2005 and interestingly mentioned the names of several sitting ministers of the Musharraf cabinet, including the Interior Minister, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao himself, who is basically incharge of maintaining and updating the ECL.

    When newspapers broke the story of latest ECL nominees, Aftab Sherpao was so angry he ordered the NAB to remove the entire list from its web site and that was quickly done. By the evening of July 20, the ECL was no longer available to the public, as in the past.

    In the developments on the other track, some of those critics Musharraf wants contained in the US include Washington-based scholar-diplomat Husain Haqqani (left), a former police officer and author of a recent book Boston-based Hassan Abbas (right), and a Wisconsin University Professor Dr. Tarique Niazi, who writes scathing articles in the South Asia Tribune.

    A California-based businessman and intellectual Khawaja Ashraf (left), some American scholars including well-known Asia expert Steve Cohen (right) and probably Marvin Weinbaum of the Middle East Institute are also on the hit list.

    The name of Shaheen Sehbai (left) was put on the ECL sometime in the recent past but it appeared in the ECL on the web site of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) when it was up-dated on July 14, 2005. Click to view ECL, saved before it was removed by NAB

    It provides the name and Pakistan and US addresses of the SAT Editor as well as his passport number and places him in the company of some important politicians including even some current ministers of the Musharraf cabinet.

    Among those on the ECL available on the web site of NAB are Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao, Kashmir Affairs Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat, PPPP Leader Makhdoom Amin Faheem, Government PML-Q leader Nasrullah Dareshak and many others in and out of the Government.

    Of course the most prominent on the ECL are Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari, Shahbaz Sharif, MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar, Rape Victim Mukhtaran Mai and even Public Accounts Committee Chairman Malik Allahyar of PML-Q and former NWFP Chief Minister Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi who recently traveled to a number of European countries as a member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.

    Interestingly some of those who have left this world are still not allowed to leave Pakistan, according to the NAB list. These unfortunate ones include Mian Mohammed Sharif, father of Nawaz Sharif, former minister Abdus Sattar Lalika and top terrorist Riaz Basra. A sick Begum Nusrat Bhutto and Asif Zardari’s father Hakim Ali Zardari also remain on the list.

    Political observers, however, say the ECL has been turned into a joke by the military Government as it is being used totally and exclusively for persecution and harassment of political opponents of the regime while those who support the army are allowed to travel even though their names stay on the ECL.

    The entire Sharif family was on ECL but was forced out of the country, these observers point out. Asif Zardari was permitted to leave without his name being struck off, at least from the NAB list on the web site. Mukhtaran Mai was permitted to leave the country under US and Western pressure but her name is still there.

    Newspaper Dawn contacted Aftab Khan Sherpao, the Interior Minister under whose jurisdiction the ECL is compiled and updated, to seek an explanation as to how he himself and a fellow Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat were on the list. The interior minister responded: “Our names are not on the ECL.” Asked if he would direct the authorities to make corrections in the list, the minister replied in affirmative.

    But Dawn quoted a NAB official saying that the Interior Minister’s name was put on the web site as cases were pending against him in courts. The official, requesting anonymity, said the interior minister’s name would be taken off only on the directives of a court of law.

    Asked why the Kashmir affairs minister’s name was on ECL, the official said perhaps the concerned officials had not updated the list as court cases against the minister had been withdrawn.

    About Mukhtaran Mai still featuring on the NAB web site, the official said the list was maintained by the interior ministry and the government might have put her name on ECL. The official said NAB got the names of only those people on ECL who had any corruption cases pending against them.

    Asked if the NAB had the legal power to place a person’s name on ECL or publish it on its web site, NAB spokesperson Nasir Jamal said there must be some provision but he would have to check the exact position with the legal department on Wednesday.

    As this ECL joke continues, a more sinister move by the Musharraf Government is getting more attention in Washington. According to sources the ISI and Military Intelligence (MI) have given several names to the US intelligence agencies and other authorities to “contain” some of the critics of the Musharraf Government who are based on US as they are “harming Pakistani efforts to fight the war on terror by attacking General Musharraf.”

    The name of South Asia Tribune Editor Shaheen Sehbai also figures prominently on this list of US-based trouble-makers.

    Sources in Islamabad said by asking the US authorities to “contain” these writers and intellectuals, the Pakistan Army wishes that some of these Pakistanis should be handed over to Islamabad while the US citizens be asked by the Washington Establishment to tone down their attacks on General Musharraf in the name of serving US National Security interests.

    The US reaction to this request is not yet known but experts say it would be wishful thinking on the part of the Pakistani Generals to believe that any US Government would link “political dissent” and “criticism of General Musharraf” to the war on terror and forcibly silence or expatriate these critics.



  3. ANTI PAKISTAN ARMY VENOM BY M T BUTT i.e. Tariq Butt of Daily Jang filed in Anti Pakistan South Asia Tribune founded by Shaheen Sehbai in USA. IN 2002.

    Army’s Budding Mansurul Haq Pays Extra $21m in Hush-Hush French Deal
    By M T Butt WASHINGTON DC, June 30, 2005 | ISSN: 1684-2057 |

    Sagem Lowers Bid to Euro 43,500 Each Unit or a total of $47.6 million on June 30, 2005

    ISLAMABAD, June 30: For the first time in Pakistan Army’s history, intimate details of a multi-million dollar weapons deal have been leaked to the media by angry middle ranking officers who point to a massive scandal which has already left the Ministry of Defence and most of the senior officers in the GHQ wondering how bold and blatant some people can get. These officers have released all the details, including names, places, time and dates about the deal, raising a plethora of questions about the manner in which specialized defence equipment is being purchased in a blatantly roughshod manner, without any financial oversight. They say if no action was taken now, more details of many more scandals would also be made public including some personal scandals of Generals which many would not like.

    According to an expert, who has studied Pakistan military purchases for years, such deals and over-payments are a very common occurrence in the Pakistan Army but what is new and different in this case is that the details have been leaked to the media for the first time while the deal is still in the process of being wrapped up.

    “These officers cannot reconcile with the fact that an extra 21 million dollars are being paid to a French company in extra-ordinary haste and that too to buy inferior quality equipment already discarded by most countries, including Pakistan Army itself,” an E-Mail received by the South Asia Tribune disclosed.

    The details of the deal are bizarre and the two top most Army Generals under General Musharraf are being named as the interested parties who are forcing the violation of all rules and regulations. Both are due to retire in 2007 and one of them may survive to become the Army Chief as well.

    “This violation is happening in the Army Headquarter right now and can possibly be stopped if General Musharraf or the helpless politicians occupying the posts of the Defence Minister or the Prime Minister, intervene and stop these Generals from making quick money at the expense of national defence and even country’s exports,” a concerned official said.

    According to the details, a quick fire, Restricted Tender was floated on June 17, 2005 by the Director General of Defence Purchases seeking to buy 900 Thermal Image Sight (TIS) Fire Control System Units (Pix Above) for the main Pakistani battle tanks – Al-Khalid and Al-Zarrar, T-85 & T-80U.

    Surprisingly for such a large purchase through Tender No: 1338/49/TISight/DGDP/PC-3B Dated 17th June, 2005, only four days were given for submission of bids. June 21 was set as the last date.

    This was ostensibly done because the Weapons and Equipment Directorate (W&ED) of the Army GHQ in Rawalpindi, had already pre-qualified and short-listed two French companies, through a long process of tests, trials and final technical evaluation by the ITD-Directorate and I&E Directorates in the first week of June, 2005. So both the companies were practically ready to bid.

    These companies were Sagem and Thales, the first being Europe’s third largest defence and security electronics company, while Thales is France’s largest military company. Adnan, son of late Maj. Gen. Jamsheed Malik represents Sagem in Pakistan while Thales is represented by a Colonel Wazir and Mr Shibli from F.A. Enterprises.

    The tests and trials had included draft contract proposals, including commercial and technical offers, which were sought by the W&ED on May 24 and May 26, 2005 from these two companies. Both gave their offers and both were pre-qualified/short listed by GHQ.

    Then the W&ED sent the files to DGDP for final purchase contract before June 30, 2005. DGDP floated the tender asking for bids in 4 days. Both Sagem and Thales separately submitted their technical and commercial offers on June 21 in the presence of DGDP and their own representatives.

    First the technical offers were opened and evaluated by the technical departments, I&E and ITD Directorates of GHQ and after two hours both were declared technically qualified with 4 technical observations made on Sagem’s offer and 35 technical observations on Thales bid.

    The most significant difference in the two offers was that Sagem bid for the Generation-3 (G-3) TIS Units while Thales offered the older Generation-2 (G-2). The Tender had asked for both types although G-2 is almost obsolete.

    Why were G-2 units put on the tender is a big mystery because Pakistan Army has already been using the G-3 which are mounted on Al-Khalid tanks being manufactured by Pakistan for which Islamabad and the GHQ have been trying hard to secure export orders from the Gulf, Saudi Arabia and other countries.

    The angry Army officers say G-2 units were not being mounted on Al-Khalid tanks because of integration, stabilization and target identification problems. In all the demonstrations to potential foreign buyers, the GHQ has been displaying Al-Khalid tanks with G-3 units.

    Side by side, the Pakistan Air Force has upgraded all the F-16, Mirage and Helicopter Gunships with G-3 units bought in 2001 or thereafter. These were purchased from Sagem in 1997. Sagem is also the main contractor in collaboration with Kamra Avionics Company. It introduced Kamra to the international export market for which General Musharraf is said to be very proud and keeps referring to.

    All NATO armies and Russians are using G-3 because it is light weight, has no payload problems on air and is more reliable than G-2. In 2002 the Pakistan Army GHQ and Weapons and Equipment Directorate decided to install G-3 in all its main battle tanks.

    Sagem was also offering transfer of technology which is included in the quoted price along with state-of-the-art Technical Ugradation Package to upgrade all the existing tanks from G-2 to G-3. That in itself promises a huge export market.

    Thales, on the other hand, was not even a qualified supplier until early 2004 and only Sagem was in the run. Then came General Tariq Majeed, the Chief of General Staff with his background of Military Intelligence (MI). He ordered that Thales should also be included in trials and tests which continued until November last year. More trials were done in February/March this year until Thales was pre-qualified, although it was offering only G-2 Units.

    The big envelopes of bids were opened on June 21, 2005 after the technical offers of both the companies were approved. Lo and Behold, Sagem had offered each G-3 TIS unit for 59,000 Euros or a total of 53.1 million Euros (US$64.5 million) for 900 units. The price of Thales was an unbelievable 78,000 for each G-2 unit or a total of 70.2 million Euros (US$85.3 million).

    On Thursday June 23, 2005, Lt. Gen. Tariq Majeed, Chief of General Staff took the decision, with the knowledge of the Vice Chief of Army Staff, General Ahsan Saleem Hayat, ruling out all technical and other objections to give the contract to Thales, the highest bidder, for its inferior G-2 equipment.

    His decision was given on the last day of his work as Gen Majeed proceeded the very next day on an official trip abroad.

    The decision stunned many who were involved with the project. There were so many angry officers who found it unpatriotic to keep quiet. Some of them believe the use of brute authority to reward a company which did not offer competitive technology has created a big problem for General Majeed who is being likened to Admiral Mansurul Haq of Pakistan Navy, the convicted former Navy Chief who made millions in submarine purchase deals and paid off a tiny percentage to get off the hook.

    The Ministry of Defence has been kept totally out of the loop in the deal. All the files were kept under control of the GS Branch headed by General Majeed. But there were other Generals heading other Directorates involved, who had to agree.

    These Officers and Directorates included Director General Armored Corps, Maj. General Saeedullah Khan, DG Weapons & Equipment Directorate Maj. Gen. Ejaz Bakhshi who was assisted by Brig. Zawwar Shah. The Military Operations Directorate under Major General Yousuf and his Technical Director Brig. Khalid Asghar also had to approve the purchase. The ITD Directorate was also involved.

    The angry officers of the Army say all these Generals and Brigadiers were put under severe pressure to approve the deal. “Maj General Ejaz Bakhshi was under tons of pressure, so was Major Gen. Yousuf but Technical Director Brig. Khalid Asghar was so terrorized he was almost crying, but he had obey the orders to keep his job and secure a pension,” one officer recalled.

    The reason is that General Majeed is the senior most General after the current Vice Chief of Army Staff, General Ahsan Saleem Hayat, who retires in October 2007. General Majeed has the outside chance of becoming the Army Chief as he is due to retire on December 30, 2007 and could thus be a possible replacement of General Musharraf, if he is not kicked out earlier.

    The Editor of the South Asia Tribune contacted the Thales company through its given Email on its web site to confirm the deal. An Email sent to ‘’ asked Thales whether it had finally got the contract from Pakistan Army of 900 Thermal Imagers at Euro 78,000 per unit for Pakistan’s Main Battle Tanks.

    Thales was also requested to confirm whether the TIS Units were of Catherine-QW type, whether the imagers were Generation-2 or Generation-3 and whether Transfer of Technology (ToT) was also part of the contract. No response was immediately available from the company.

    The decision to buy G-2 units from Thales has many implications for the Army and Pakistan as well. Firstly Pakistan will be paying an extra US$21 million to buy inferior grade technology which is being phased out by all the armies the world over, including the Pakistan Army.

    Secondly by putting in these old Generation units, Pakistan is seriously going to compromise its export potential for Al-Khalid and other tanks as all buyers are looking for the latest technology when they purchase weapons at such a scale.

    Thirdly after a few years Pakistan will in any case have to upgrade these tanks and install the new technology which would again cost a bundle to the Army and the country.

    Why all this blatant favoritism is being done by some Generals is obvious but no one is still ready to give out a guess of what will happen to the new Admiral Mansurul Haq in the making.

    What it, nevertheless, proves is that General Musharraf has turned a totally blind eye on whatever his key position holders in GHQ may be doing because he wants them to stay happy, healthy, wealthy and content and not challenge his authority as the Army Chief, although he has crossed his retirement age years ago.

  4. The General in a Hurry Now Buying German Spy Planes for Millions By M T Butt WASHINGTON DC, Aug 24, 2005 | ISSN: 1684-2057 |

    ISLAMABAD, August 24: After failing to push through a dubious $85 million deal for night vision equipment for tanks from a French company in late June, as the deal was exposed in time by the South Asia Tribune, the same ambitious top Pakistan Army General is now bull-dozing another $27 million deal to rush purchase German surveillance spy aircraft, bypassing all Army rules and regulations. But again, patriotic but angry, officers of the Army in the General Head Quarters in Rawalpindi are determined not to let him get his way. Click to See previous stories: Part-I | Musharraf’s Call saves $37M

    They have again released all the details of this new deal to the South Asia Tribune, hoping that General Pervez Musharraf will again intervene and stop this budding Admiral Mansurul Haq of the Pakistan Army, as he did in the last case.

    The General in a hurry to purchase anything, no matter how rotten or below standard or high priced, is the Chief of General Staff, Lt. General Tariq Majeed whose last bid to buy French night vision equipment from Thales was foiled at the last moment by a telephone call from General Musharraf, saving the Army an extra $37 million.

    Now his eyes are on German UAV unmanned spy aircraft, LUNA, and he has ordered that at least 4 or 5 of these planes be purchased immediately for an amount exceeding $27 million.

    According to details sent to the South Asia Tribune by GHQ officers not happy with the deal, the hasty selection of the LUNA UAV system has been done by the CGS in complete isolation without inviting any competitive international bids from other prospective UAV manufacturers in the world.

    “This is a direct contravention and violation of the government procurement rules and regulations,” an Email received from the GHQ officers revealed.

    The LUNA UAV system was also hurriedly tested in Pakistan without extending any invitation to other prospective international manufacturers by the W&E Directorate. The requirement of comparative trials for such high end projects was completely by-passed to select a ‘preferred’ but inferior UAV system which was only dear and near to the heart of the CGS,” the Email said. There are cheaper and better Tactical Military UAV systems available worldwide.

    The angry officers believe the CGS, Lt. Gen Tariq Majeed, is continuing to flaunt internal procedures and processes and is acting like a civilian business owner in the way he is taking vital operational decisions.

    The scheduled purchase of LUNA, the UAV manufactured by EMT of Germany, is generating anger and frustration in the officers. They say LUNA UAV is a very small model plane. It is primarily used for very close area monitoring and does not even qualify to be a tactical military UAV system.

    However, last year and all of a sudden, CGS Gen. Tariq Majeed ordered his juniors to immediately start evaluating and eventually purchase the system for Pakistan Army.

    “It is quite unprecedented and against the normal code of ethics that a serving General categorically orders to purchase a specific system without first having it go through the standard laid-down procedures of merit, selection, tests and trials,” an officer’s message said.

    Almost simultaneously, as if he had an intuition, the Operations Director of the seller company, Target Consultations Services, Mr. Salim Khan, who represents EMT of Germany in Pakistan, sent a brief proposal to W&E Directorate in the General Head Quarters (GHQ) on August 23, 2004 (TCS Letter No. TCS/WNE/012).

    The proposal was evaluated on accelerated priority under orders of the CGS and was hurriedly called in for test and trials.

    Not surprisingly, during these tests which were held in the last week of February 2005 at three different locations in Pakistan, the Military Intelligence Directorate raised serious concerns on the viability of the UAV as the type of equipment it had used was being manufactured commercially off-the-shelf and hence anyone with the same equipment could easily and literally ‘hijack’ the subject UAV system.

    The MI Directorate, being the user, opined in its written report: ”It is finally concluded that incorporation of Commercial-off-the-Shelf (COTS) products available to any customer may have serious implications on the survivability of the UAV.”

    The Technical Directorate of GHQ, ITD Directorate, in collaboration with IE&I also pointed out serious deficiencies in the subject UAV system compared with the official and approved General Staff Requirement (GSR) of the GHQ for Tactical UAV systems.

    The ITD Directorate in its report said that the subject UAV system had no ECM capabilities, was open to enemy jamming and was unable to detect enemy objects from the required flying height.

    The ITD in its original report recommended that the UAV should first incorporate all the missing parameters and then it should be tested again in Pakistan to confirm the changes before any decisions are taken.

    Instead of following the established Army rules and regulations and to reject the system because it did not follow the official Staff Requirement, an impatient General Majeed chose otherwise.

    The angry officers revealed: “He ordered to have the Tactical UAV GSR changed in order to accommodate the shortcomings of the LUNA UAV system. Mysteriously, the ITD Report’s original conclusions were also changed when the report reached the office of ITD Director General, Major General Mohammed Asaad.”

    Bulldozing all the technical objections and procedural elements, the CGS is now very keen to have an inferior UAV system inducted into the Army which essentially no one but the CGS wants.

    The CGS has also instructed the Military Operations and Military Intelligence Directorate to arrange the funds for over US$27 million to buy 4 to 5 LUNA UAV Systems in FY 2005-06 under the Army Future Development Program (AFDP) Fund – 2019.

    In an In-House Discussions (IHD) meeting held at the GHQ on 27 July 2005, attended by the CGS and all the concerned Director Generals, including the MI, MO and ITD, the CGS surprised everyone by announcing the decision and instructed the W&E Directorate to buy 4 LUNA UAV systems this year.

    The irony is that in the same meeting the CGS also emphasized that the ultimate reliance of the Army should always remain on ‘indigenously’ developed UAVs.

    To cover up his hasty purchase, the CGS also instructed that ‘after’ the induction of the LUNA UAV system he had ordered, all other (and better) UAV system induction from the international market should be ‘limited’, perhaps to keep out the competition in future for the long term contract of his favorite system.

    One message received by the South Asia Tribune says: “This has caused serious concern in the ranks of the GHQ and officers who rightly think that rules are being played with in order to buy a toy which will eventually be of no use for them as Pakistani companies are developing much better UAV systems in Pakistan.”

    “But for the sake of their job, pay and pension they cannot defy the orders of the CGS. The most amazing part of this story is the conduct unbecoming of the CGS, Lt. Gen Tariq Majeed who is literally acting as the paid and employed agent for the German company, EMT.”

    “Army procurement procedures, as have been laid down over many years of experience, are designed for a reason to provide the best equipment at the best price to Pakistan Defense forces, however, when people like the CGS come along and exploit the procedures by virtue of their position they severely damage the reputation of an otherwise high character institution,” the officers maintain.

    Experts say Pakistan Army has its own indigenous UAV development program for the last 8 years in which they are making three types of Tactical UAV Systems. These UAVs include, Hud-Hud and two others manufactured by Integrated Defense Services (ex-PMO).

    One local private company SATUMA, based in the Kahuta Triangle in Islamabad, is also manufacturing UAV systems which are being used and deployed by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). All locally made UAV’s are 60-70 per cent cheaper than what is being doled out for this inferior system from Germany.

    Some experts think in international systems, LUNA is not even considered to be a military system and is not used in the theater of war because of its inferior technology. The international market is full of better UAV systems that are more suited to military roles.

    In its on-going evaluation, however, the GHQ is also considering the French, American and a German Tactical Military UAV systems although none of which have been called for in-country trials. The French UAV system was shown to the ex-VCGS and now Corps Commander Karachi, during an all expense paid trip to France in June 2004.

    The essence of a good deal is ”Comparative Trials” and competition between various suppliers. The spirit of competition and procedure dictates that in case the Army needs to select a UAV it must invite at least three suppliers and have a comparison test and trials in Pakistan. The equipment which gives the best result during trials and also the best price at the end of the day should be selected.

    Unfortunately, none of these aspects have been followed in the German case thereby violating the laid procedures of procurement.


    Military Regime Snubbed as Asif Zardari is Acquitted by Lahore High Court By M T Butt WASHINGTON DC, Sept.9, 2004 | ISSN: 1684-2057 |

    ISLAMABAD, Sept 9: Jailed PPP leader and Benazir Bhutto’s husband Asif Ali Zardari scored another significant victory on Sept 9 when the Lahore High Court acquitted him in a corruption case, setting aside the 7-year jail term given to him by a special court.

    The court victory in the Pakistan Steel Mills case came days after a sitting Prime Minister, Choudhry Shujaat Hussain, who later resigned to make way for Shaukat Aziz, declared the drug smuggling case against Zardari as fake.

    Zardari has now been acquitted or bailed out in 8 cases while he is still being detained under the BMW Import Duty case in which his bail application is pending with the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

    The record of acquittals and bails has confounded the military rulers who keep on adding new cases against the PPP leader as he is freed in old ones, despite the immense pressure used by the Army on the judiciary.

    If the Supreme Court grants him bail in the BMW case, Zardari would have to be released by the military regime, unless some new case is registered. But since he is in jail since November 1996, there is hardly any room left for accusing him of any other criminal offence.

    Exiled PPP leader Benazir Bhutto hailed the judgment of the Lahore High Court terming it the “triumph of justice”.

    She said the verdict shows that those who show patience and persevere are ultimately rewarded, adding that the decision “demonstrates that despite the clouds of darkness, the light of conscience prevails in our land.”

    The decision by two Judges of the Lahore High Court was expected several months back. Suddenly the bench constituted of Judges Maulvi Anwar ul Haq and Justice Aslam was broken up. After a long, legal struggle and applications before the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Bench hearing the appeal was allowed to announce its landmark judgment. The Bench declared that Mr. Zardari should be immediately set free if he was not needed in any other matter.

    The first time Mr. Zardari was ordered free by a court was in 1998. But another case was filed to stop him from his release. Mr. Zardari was arrested on the night of November 4, 1996 initially under one preventive detention law known as the Lahore Maintenance of Public Order and then under a second Karachi Maintenance of Public Order.

    He was acquitted in two attempted suicide cases, one murder case (Sajjad case), one corruption case known as KESC whereas the conviction in the SGS case was also set aside in 2001. The Steel Mill case is the eighth case in which Mr. Zardari has been granted relief by the judiciary. However, there are still 14 more cases against him. He is on bail in all the cases except the BMW case.

    The BMW case is so ridiculous it makes a mockery of law and justice in Pakistan. It revolves around import of a second hand car by someone other than Mr. Zardari. The duty on the second hand car was re-evaluated by the regime and a small percentage of disputed deficit was recorded as payable duty.

    Since December 2001 Mr. Zardari is languishing in prison on the basis of the BMW case, which was initiated by NAB under Gen. Musharraf. Usually cases of disputed duty do not result in any arrest, either of the importer or buyer. But Zardari has been kept in jail shamelessly.

    The ordeal in the Steel Mills case began in 1996 when Steel Mills Chairman late Sajjad Hussain was arrested by NAB headed by disgraced Senator Saifur Rahman. Mr. Hussain was tortured and tried to commit suicide to avoid a third arrest by the NAB authorities. His wife filed an affidavit before the Sindh High Court documenting the torture and threats to kill meted out to Mr. Hussain if he refused to implicate a “VVIP” meaning Mr. Zardari.

    Subsequently the Chairman Mr. Hussain was killed amid doubts whether it was a planned murder by the State or the result of random violence, which had plagued the city of Karachi.

    The LHC Rawalpindi bench set aside the conviction awarded by the Accountability Court on October in dubious circumstances. The judgment was announced at 9 pm at night, after military authorities stopped the judge from giving his verdict during court hours.

    The prosecution had claimed that a meeting allegedly took place between Asif Zardari and the Steel Mill Chairman on September 14, 1995 between 6.30 pm and 7 pm in the Prime Minister’s house regarding kickbacks.

    However the prosecution’s case fell apart during examination. A witness deposed that Mr. Zardari was accompanying the Prime Minister to Lahore that day and could not have met Steel Chairman at Islamabad as the prosecution claimed.

  6. Tariq Butt Double Game:

    Brig Niaz: the man playing the informal go-between Tuesday, January 15, 2008 By Tariq Butt

    ISLAMABAD: Brig (retd) Niaz, a friend of President Pervez Musharraf, had more than once facilitated return of some female members of the Sharif family to Pakistan in the past to attend to family affairs.

    He had no acquaintance with the Sharif family until he was approached by a common friend a few years ago, seeking his help in facilitating travel of female members of the Sharif family to Pakistan through his good offices with President Pervez Musharraf to attend marriages of their relatives. Sharifs were then in Jeddah.

    “I was groomed in an environment that doesn’t allow being discourteous with anybody expressing his desire to meet him,” the former brigadier had told this correspondent before Nawaz made an abortive attempt to return to Pakistan on Sept 10 last year.

    Niaz met the Sharifs in London where he had primarily gone for treatment. The soldier had sought that since he was an apolitical person he should be spared from being embroiled in any controversy. He did not agree to a record chat, but consented to tell the story about his contacts with Sharifs and how relations between Musharraf and him built up.

    Before his failed attempt to return to Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif was thrashing Musharraf in his live news conferences in London. At that point, one clearly noticed that Niaz was greatly distressed by Sharifs’ diatribe against Musharraf. But he was helpless and felt embarrassed. His last encounter with Sharifs in London had turned out to be a futile exercise when he failed to convince Nawaz Sharif to delay his return to Pakistan for some time.

    However, when the common friend had urged Niaz to talk to the president, he was quick to say yes. He had met Musharraf and secured the requisite go-ahead for Sharifs to attend marriages in their family.

    The six feet-plus tall former brigadier, originally hailing from Chakwal, one of the main recruiting areas of the Pakistan Army, faced no difficulty in obtaining the president’s consent for Sharifs to come back, saying that female members should not suffer for the faults of their male elders.

    During his meetings with Sharifs, Niaz had been urging them to show restraint towards the president, realising the grave situation in Pakistan. But the two brothers had never practically did that and kept on with their rhetoric.

    Niaz again hit the headlines last week when Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif met him at his Islamabad residence. This was basically meant to thank and show respect to the former brigadier for facilitating the Sharif family at the most difficult time for a private affair.

    “This was basically a courtesy call from Shahbaz, who was meeting people that had come to their rescue during their time in exile,” a PML-N leader told The News. “Like Niaz’s previous encounters with Sharifs, this one, too, failed to moderate them. Niaz, however, did stress that Sharifs should lower their temperament,” he said.

    When one had met Niaz, the judicial crisis was at its peak and Musharraf had been pushed to the wall. The former brigadier was extremely distraught over the point where Musharraf had gone because of the immense public pressure. He was also displeased with what a set of judges of the Supreme Court and his detractors were doing against the president. Particularly, Sharifs unhealthy role in the whole situation disturbed him a lot. He gave the impression as if his mission miserably failed.

    Cigar-smoking Niaz did not know Musharraf at all till a former colonel, who was his and the president’s friend, arranged a meeting between them. This is how the two became friends. Niaz was penniless when he had to leave the Army in 1977 for his refusal to fire at protesters during the limited martial law in Lahore. He was extremely worried about how he and his children, including a blind daughter, would make both ends meet. He had no home, no other resources to fall back on.

    It was the then Chief of the Army Staff Mirza Aslam Beg who, knowing Niaz since long, enquired after his plight and came to know about his condition. He pushed him to involve himself in defence purchases. Niaz was reluctant, saying he has no experience in the field and did not know complexities of the business.

    Finally, he agreed and earned kudos. He later bought the present sprawling house in Islamabad. Wherever he went in army offices for business purpose, he found officers, who had been his students in the Army when he was an instructor. It turned out to be an easy sailing for him all around.

    Niaz, around 80, has been seriously ill for the past few years. He was suffering from memory loss and other brain problems that also resulted in significant weight loss. He has to give up some of his old habits, including cigarette smoking, but sought permission from doctors to smoke cigar, which was less injurious. He visits Britain off and one for treatment.