The Facts about the ‘Swiss Case’
By Maj Gen (Retd) Ahsan Ahmed
THE NATION – June 18, 2005
“We will use these twelve million dollars ob-tained from Benazir Bhutto & Asif Ali Zardari on the rehabilitation of rain victims”, bellowed Sheikh Rashid Ahmed while talking to the media.
Almost a year has passed since. The rain victims are still shelterless because there are no millions of dollars to be recovered & because hollow claims based on mala fide intentions do not deliver.
The military junta ruling the 150 million Pakistanis for almost six years runs on the crutches of conspiracy, blackmail, injustice, threats & torture. From Chaudhrys of Gujrat to Faisal Saleh Hayat of Jhung and from Aftab Sherpao of Peshawar to Arbab Ghulam Rahim of Thar or whosoever is in the government are there because of these arm-twisting tactics by the army and its intelligence agencies.
Genuine leadership representing the majority of population as well as the vote cast in the last election inspite of massive rigging, remain in exile because they refuse to bow before the tactics of threat & blackmail employed by the dictatorship ruling the garrison state. The present rulers have at least partly succeeded in following the principle of Nazi Propaganda Minister Goebbels: “If tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
The media trial of politicians in general and of Benazir Bhutto and her spouse in particular has been carried out so vociferously that at least part of the population in the country and abroad started believing it without knowing facts about these politically motivated and thoroughly fabricated cases.
Take the case of Asif Zardari. He was kept in jail and that too in solitary confinement for eight consecutive years (and nearly twelve in two stints) till he walked out without the blemish of even a single conviction.
The interesting part is when he entered the jail in 1996, he was charged with eight cases but when he was released there were 22 cases against him.
Coming to the so-called Swiss case, it may come as news to many that the detailed work on the SGS-Cotecna award was done during the Nawaz Sharif Government preceding BB’s second tenure as PM. The essence of the matter was to check the per-shipment fraud and irregularities, which hit the vested interests of many in the bureaucracy as well as in business and industry.
It is the same case in which the judges of the High Court announced conviction of the accused. However when appeal was filed in the Supreme Court, the defence produced recorded tape in which a highly placed government functionary was dictating the verdict as well as the sentences to the judges. The Supreme Court not only set aside the judgement and ordered re-trial but admonished the judges in the severest of terms writing that ” the trial has been conducted in such a way that bias is seen floating over this case”.
The concerned judges of the High Court had to resign. Taxpayers have a right to ask the Generals governing Pakistan as to why billions have been spent so far to recover the allegedly stolen 15 million dollars when the government could not summon either the courage or the evidence, or may be both, to pursue the same case for re-trial in the country as ordered by the Supreme Court.
These billions have been spent on the innumerable journeys to Switzerland, UK and the USA by the Chairman NAB and his cronies, to lodge them in five-star hotels, to dish out lavishly on their TA/DA etc in addition to recruitment of hordes of attorneys especially for witch-hunting in this case whose salaries run in six figures for each of these super duper lawyers.
Another perception created by people in Islamabad is as if the Government of Switzerland has on its own discovered the case and registered it and it has gone for trial. Both are lies white as snow and dark as the intentions behind them. The Swiss are investigating the matter through a Magistrate whereas the investigation itself was triggered by false allegations made by Islamabad in a letter of request to Switzerland.
TOn the last working day in his office, Mr Daniel Devaud wrote adverse findings against the defendants. When an appeal was lodged against these findings, the same was quashed.
A new inquiry is now in progress on the insistence of the Government of Pakistan.
One does not have to qualify from Lincoln’s Inn to find out as to how Benazir Bhutto can be awarded five years imprisonment, as claimed by the Pakistani sleuths, when the case is still being investigated after the passage of so many years.
One significant point to note is that when the government suspended the functioning of SGS-Cotecna, the firm claimed damages, as there was nothing wrong or dubious in the contract. The government not only paid the entire amount of damages, it re-employed SGS-Cotecna because of their good services.
So, while the firm still works for the government, the same government runs to Switzerland crying as to why the contract was awarded to this firm by PPP government. In case you are getting confused, remember that it is a military government answerable to no one least of all to the parliament or the people. The publicity filth that BB took out $150,000/- allegedly from her company Bomer Finance in Switzerland to purchase a necklace worth $195,000/- from David Morris, a leading jeweller of London, gets cleared when one comes to know that BB neither holds an account in Switzerland nor owns a company in that country.
The next salvo coming from the government of the commando General belonging to the artillery arm of Pak army is that the lawyer handling the account of BB in Switzerland has been sent to jail. The fact is that there being no account of BB in Switzerland, no one was handling it & none has been sent to jail.
Yet another issue is the timings of the so-called Swiss case being thrown up in the media every now and then. The findings of Devaud investigations were made public when Musharraf became completely helpless in the turbulent year 2003 of Pakistan politics as the combined opposition successfully paralysed the parliament by opposing the 17th amendment to the constitution tooth and nail. The amendment was crucial for the survival of the Musharraf government.
While PPP stood its ground, Swiss case or no Swiss case, the Moulanas of MMA gave in to hold on to power in the two smaller provinces. If this had not happened, no one would be hearing the nonsensical reverberations
of this case today.
In 2004, when Musharraf went back on his promise to doff his uniform, made to the Madressa educated Moulanas in order to get the 17th amendment passed as an act of parliament, BB was approached to support this decision of Chief of the Army Staff. She would have nothing of this nonsense. Lo & behold! There was an uproar of the Swiss case in the media, the non-accountable General Muneer Hafeez rushed to Switzerland to be lodged in yet another palatial and he stayed there waiting the PPP Chairperson to get a summon to appear before the Swiss inquiry. She calmly went to Geneva, explained her position for more than two hours & walked out with her head held high, as her Shaheed father would have liked her to do.
Time & tide wait for no one. Musharraf can put a stop to the process of democracy, rule of law & visibility of justice but cannot do anything to stop the tickling of the clock on the wall, the wall the writing on which he cannot read.
The year 2005 brings the local bodies elections, year 2006 marks elections in the Muslim League of the Khakis and 2007 terminates General Musharraf’s Presidency. When he looks beyond 2007, buddies Bush & Blair are themselves approaching their final terms. (Since they do not wear uniform, they cannot go on forever.
Each of these milestones causes the rank and file of his fascist party closer to devour each other in their lust for good money & bad governance. Time to throw the balloon of the Swiss case up in the air again!
The sequence of events fit smugly in the good old saying “once is coincidence, twice is intention & thrice is conspiracy.” If Benazir agrees today to remain out of the country & politics for infinity, supports the 17th amendment as well as Musharraf to remain President beyond year 2007 with uniform or without, the Swiss case would go to the archives of the agencies. The intelligence agencies of Pakistan function on the premise that “truth does not matter. Only perceptions matter.”
They might have succeeded in distorting the perceptions of a few in the country or abroad but what they are doing is opposite to the teachings of the Holy Quran and sayings of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). That’s why truth is prevailing at the cost of falsely created perceptions & will go on to prevail finally. Insha Allah!
The writer is Pakistan’s former Director General Health, former Minister Health & Population Welfare Sindh & former Pro-Chancellor Liaquat University of Medical & Health Sciences Sindh. He is author of two books.