Nawaz Sharif’s (temporary) NRO for the wife of Yusuf Raza Gilani


After the “minus one” campaign, do you know who will be the next in line? Yes, it will be our very dear, (apparently) acceptable to Nawaz Sharif and ISI, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

It was thus observed in an editorial of The News (8 Nov 09): “As speculation about the imminent downfall of the president grows in volume and pitch, with more and more people convinced that Mr Asif Ali Zardari is headed out of the towering gates of the presidential palace he moved into just over a year ago, it seems to have suddenly dawned on the prime minster that he must do all he can to save himself. While Mr Yusuf Raza Gilani has been quite willing, for some months, to play along with those who would like to see the back of Mr Zardari, he now seems conscious of the fact that the same elements may see no need to allow him to retain his post either. The ‘minus-one’ formula we have heard so much about since the middle of the year may not turn into the ‘minus-342’ move the Punjab governor has spoken of. But its impact could expand beyond the presidency and draw into the churning whirlpool the prime minster and his government. While Mr Zardari has been drawing much of the flak for the paralysis we see in government, and indeed he has been partially responsible for this by intervening in decision-making at every level, the cabinet must accept a significant chunk of responsibility for failing to get things moving in any meaningful direction.”

Here is a glimpse of the ammunition that will be used against the Gilani sahib of Multan Sharif.

According to recent media reports, the NAB withdrew two cases against Fauzia Gilani and others who received Rs71.480 million from the Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan in 1987. Two years later, the same tola milked the same bank for another Rs100.200 million. After grabbing Rs171.680 million in a span of 24 months, Mrs Gilani (actually, could it be Mr Gilani?) and her five business partners scooted–I mean, defaulted. The timing for defaulting was ideal – it was the reign of Benazir Bhutto and Gilani was in her cabinet.

Today, fate again favours Gilani making him our prime minister and the NAB favours him by forgiving his wife the default.

‘Out, damned spot’!

Saturday, November 07, 2009 (The News)
Anjum Niaz

“All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand,” cried Lady Macbeth after killing Duncan, king of Scotland, in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Fast-forward four centuries. We know that all the laws in the world, not even the NRO, can wash clean the corruption of our leaders, both in the government and the opposition. The media, like Macbeth’s three witches, brews up toxicants while dancing around a cauldron boiling over with 100 corruption cases of the president and his cronies. Chanting “Fair is foul and foul is fair,” the witches (read: the media) are foreshadowing events to come, predicting the evil that will cloud the president’s judgment in pursuing the passing of the NRO by Parliament.

The president blocked the restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry till the end. He feared the chief justice would never give him and his friends a free pass for their alleged corruption. Today, a nation of 180 million is crying out for justice. Our only hope is the Supreme Court. My Lords, dispense swift justice in dispatching the NRO and make sure the beneficiaries receive exemplary punishment.

The pots meanwhile have started calling the kettles black. “All parties benefited from the National Reconciliation Ordinance; it also helped people (the Sharif brothers) who had been exiled for 10 years to return to Pakistan under a deal,” Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah is reported as saying. “These NRO beneficiaries are now playing politics,” Shah said, referring to Nawaz Sharif’s rejection of the NRO.

If the system has to be cleaned, let there be accountability across the board. It’s not only the PPP godfathers who stole from a beaten nation, but leaders of all political parties, civil and military scofflaws. Go get them all.

Among those whose past must be made transparent is the prime minister’s wife, our First Lady. The media is airbrushing Gilani as the next in succession to Zardari. But there are skeletons rattling in his cupboard. One of them is the stuffing of undeserving people in the National Assembly Secretariat. An NAB official dealing with the case gave me glaring examples of how Yusuf Raza Gilani had “reprehensibly” misused his position as Speaker. The official has all the records, but they are worthless because his bosses at the grandly called National Accountability Bureau have unashamedly caved in to the prime minister and withdrawn two bank-default cases against Mrs Fauzia Gilani and five others. They settled “out of court,” we’re told.

According to recent media reports, the NAB withdrew two cases against Fauzia Gilani and others who received Rs71.480 million from the Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan in 1987. Two years later, the same tola milked the same bank for another Rs100.200 million. After grabbing Rs171.680 million in a span of 24 months, Mrs Gilani (actually, could it be Mr Gilani?) and her five business partners scooted–I mean, defaulted. The timing for defaulting was ideal – it was the reign of Benazir Bhutto and Gilani was in her cabinet.

Today, fate again favours Gilani making him our prime minister and the NAB favours him by forgiving his wife the default.

“Surely these loans, including the principal amount as well as the accumulated mark-up for the past many years, must have been repaid,” writes Brig (retd) Farooq Hameed Khan, a former NAB consultant in Lahore. “If this has really happened, it is unbelievable in a country like Pakistan where the rich and powerful do not normally return bank loans. This ‘mother of all settlements’ should be made public for all others to follow this historic and rare gesture by the country’s top elite,” he says.

We have a right to ask about the reported “out-of-court settlement” between the First Lady and the NAB.

The writer is a freelance journalist with over twenty years of experience in national and international reporting. Email: aniaz@fas.harvard.edu ; www.anjumniaz.com


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