Has Zardari done anything which comes close to unbeatable follies of our military dictators? – by Ayaz Amir

The road to hell — and similar destinations

By Ayaz Amir

We have a developed talent, honed over the years, for counting the trees and missing the larger picture. We see things in one dimension and forget that there may be other sides to reality. This leads to false conclusions and the begetting of great tragedies.

Let us for argument’s sake accept that Asif Ali Zardari, the luckless president of a luckless country, is the author of a thousand villainies, the darkest thing to have happened to the Islamic Republic. But let us at least weigh his real or presumed infamy in the scales of history before coming to a judgment about what he deserves.

Has Zardari done anything which comes close to the unbeatable folly of the 1965 war? If anything undid us it was that foolish call to arms. We had set out to conquer Kashmir. At Tashkent we ended up lowering the casket of the Kashmir cause into the ground.

Do Zardari’s alleged crimes measure up to the folly of General Yahya Khan who presided over the break-up of Pakistan? If ever the larger picture escaped anyone it was that latter-day Muhammad Shah Rangila, caught up in circumstances beyond his control or comprehension. We couldn’t stand the notion of meeting East Pakistani aspirations half-way, just as we are having a hard time now understanding Baloch aspirations.

The frenzied crowds which poured out in 1977 to protest the alleged rigging of the elections by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto called for the establishment of Nizam-e-Mustafa (the dispensation of the Holy Prophet). Like the supposed reformers of today who think they are battling corruption, the enthusiasts of 1977 were convinced the promised kingdom was just a step away if only that incarnation of evil, Bhutto, was taken care of.

Bhutto was taken care of and eventually hanged but the frothing crowds were no nearer Nizam-e-Mustafa or anything like it. Instead, for their pains, they got General Ziaul Haq and the long night of his dark tyranny. Zia first proclaimed his aim as Islamization. Then it was accountability. These were pretexts for suppressing democracy and perpetuating his rule. Zia was perhaps the greatest disaster to befall Pakistan. We are still living with the consequences.

Nothing in our history has been more dangerous than the simplicity and innocence of our good intentions. Riding on their back we have stood before not the pearly gates promising everlasting bliss but the gates of hell. It is scarcely an accident that many of the voices now earnestly urging the Supreme Court to embrace an ever-widening agenda of reform were early supporters of Musharraf’s military rule. Such contradictions bestride our history.

Khan Roedad Khan hailed Musharraf as a messiah come to rid the country of its woes. Khan Imran Khan, to his lasting chagrin, was also part of the Musharraf-welcome crowd. At least Imran has the decency to say he was wrong. Others are not so coy. There was indeed a time when prominent media pundits, now in ultra-reformist mode, conducted themselves virtually as Musharraf spokesmen. Humein yaad hai zara zara, tumhein yaad ho keh na yaad ho.

Zardari may deserve all the pejorative adjectives in the dictionary but has he committed any crime which comes close to the enormity of the disaster that was Kargil? That adventure was meant to seize advantage in Kashmir once again. It ended up exposing Pakistan to fierce international criticism and giving birth to the term cross-border terrorism, the stick with which Pakistan has been regularly beaten ever since. Are we calling for a national commission to investigate Kargil, as we should? No, we are into other things.

Talking of Musharraf’s military rule, what was the role of our present lordships when Triple One Brigade, our highest constitutional authority, reinterpreted the Constitution once again on the long afternoon of Oct 12, 1999? A few judges — Chief Justice Saiduzzaman Siddiqui comes to mind — did not take oath under the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) issued two months later. But if imperfect memory serves, all of their present lordships, at one time or the other, took oath under the PCO.

Not only that, some of them were on the bench which validated Musharraf’s takeover. A few, including My Lord the Chief Justice, were on the bench which validated Musharraf’s takeover for the second time in the Zafar Ali Shah case (2005).

Of course, we must let bygones be bygones and deal with the present. But then this principle should be for everyone. We should not be raising monuments to selective memory or selective condemnation. If the PCO of 2007 was such a bad idea, in what category should we place the PCO of 2000? And if in this Turkish bath all are like the emperor without his clothes, the least this should inculcate is a sense of humility.

And if we accept the logic that there can be a transformation in the nature of things, that people who did questionable things once-upon-a-time can undergo a conversion on the road to Damascus (or anywhere else) and become knights in shining armour, dispensing light and so on, should not some of the same indulgence, the same benefit of doubt, be extended to others?

Zardari cut deals and earned commissions and for his talent in this field earned the sobriquet Mr Ten Percent. You reap what you sow. So if Zardari is haunted by the ghosts of his past, and if his past keeps popping up in conversation and national discourse, he has only himself to blame. But now, whether we like it or not, he is something more than a mere replica of his past. He is the constitutionally elected President of the Republic.

For his failings in government, for his mistakes as President, for incompetence or inadequacy — if these are the charges brought against him — he can be pilloried and even ridiculed. This is part of democracy, part of the political process.

But when hidden forces with their hidden agendas go about manipulating things, pulling strings from behind, and if elements in the media or other distinguished places become witting or unwitting partners in this game, then it is not democracy being served or strengthened but intrigue and conspiracy.

The Supreme Court judgment on the vires of the 2007 PCO came on the 31st of July, 2009. But the knives were out for Zardari much before that. Zardari of course heads a team with no shortage of incompetents on board. In a land even otherwise dedicated to mediocrity they seemingly outshine all competitors. (Keen for a doctorate myself, I am still trying to discover the location of that celebrated seat of learning, Montecello University.)

President Zardari can also be his own worst enemy. Who told him to deliver the speech he did at Naudero on BB’s second death anniversary? There were things in it which were best left unsaid. Those whom the gods would destroy they first push into such speech-making. But it is also true that Zardari has been driven into a corner. The mandate he got — constitutionally it bears remembering — is being nullified by other means.

Their lordships are all men of honour and rectitude who stood up to Musharraf’s dictatorship and gave hope to the country. But their lordships are just one part of the national spectrum. If they are men of honour it doesn’t automatically follow that everyone else in the equation is also playing by the same rules.

There is thus a need for caution, a need to draw a line between past and present. Let us study our past and draw the correct conclusions. But let us not, wittingly or unwittingly, destabilise democracy. Cleansing the national stables is a laudable aim and makes for a heady slogan. But as our history demonstrates, good intentions, unsupported by a sense of reality or a sense of proportion, lead to unforeseen consequences.

The temple of democracy is a cohesive whole. There is no such thing as smashing one pillar and hoping the rest of the structure will survive. It won’t. And when the slabs come crashing down, we will be the losers while those who have always operated in the shadows will have the last laugh. So Happy New Year. Our curse is to live forever in interesting times. May the new year be a bit less exciting than the one which has just gone by.

Email: winlust@yahoo.com

8 responses to “Has Zardari done anything which comes close to unbeatable follies of our military dictators? – by Ayaz Amir”

  1. How can the most corrupt person can be elected and become President of an Islamic country. But this is reality and lets see what heppens next.
    GOD save Pakistan.

  2. The legacy of hurling accusations, using the accusations for media trial and defame the accused, has become a fashion. Like every human being, no person can claim to be free from committing mistakes.

    There are thousands of persons who had availed the benefits of NRO. Why do we single out one person for criticism? Fairness demands that there should be justice for everybody. Unfortunately, malicious media debates have become a fashion, a fad and their frequency and volume have increased after the SC verdict although the SC verdict puts an end to all controversies as it not only annuls the NRO as void and ultra vires but also sets into place a mechanism to monitor the cases reopened. In this manner, the apex court has once again acted like the true, superior most custodian of justice by way of an arrangement that leaves no room for any wrongdoing in the accountability courts or in the entire accountability process.

    People know as to how NAB or Saifur Rehman’s Ehtesab Bureau would conduct its affairs in the past. A good number of cases taken by these organisations, especially those against Mohtarama Benazir Bhutto Shaheed and Asif Ali Zardari, were politically motivated. Those who have read journalist Suhail Waraich’s book based on his interview with PML-N Quaid, Mian Nawaz Sharif, are shocked over Sharif’s revelation that he (and his government) were under tremendous pressure from some powerful quarters to indict Bhutto (and Zardari).

    One TV anchor produced another witness who said on Geo program on Thursday that the former senator Saifur Rehman had begged pardon from Asif Ali Zardari in Adiala Jail Rawalpindi. Should the people of Pakistan be still be fooled by concocted allegations of wrongdoing by Asif Ali Zardari.

    The NAB, in the past, has rather been contributing, at times, to the promotion of corruption, as well as evidenced from its plea bargaining with many an allegedly corrupt persons. Those involved in cases of corruption and other kinds of bungling would be ultimately released on plea bargaining that just can’t be described as a transparent, fair law in the strictest sense of the term.

    It seems that one-man-specific lobby has not yet decided to take respite, even for a while. Had this lobby been concerned about corruption or its eradication in higher, responsible echelons, it could talk about the cases and references that were once filed against Sharifs; it could take up the case of transfer of substantial funds to Jamaat-e-Islami as once admitted by the former COAS Aslam Beg. Should we think that these deals were according to the wishes of the people of Pakistan or in line with the Constitution or the laws of the land? Certainly not, is the only answer.

    Then, why target Asif Ali Zardari? Why not the tightening of noose around the necks of all those bigwigs who are in the possession of properties and vehicles worth billions of rupees and who have never taken it as their moral or national obligation to pay taxes even more than an ordinary wage earner of the country?

    Fasihur Rehman

  3. It was none other than the high-profile and dependable figure of Mian Nawaz Sharif who blew the gaff during his interview to renowned journalist Suhail Waraich whose book is very much available at national and international bookshops. In this interview, while pronouncing the accountability process, ie Saifur Rehman’s accountability process, as wrong, Mian Nawaz Sharif has unequivocally stated that they (the Sharifs and the PML-N) were pushed to do so. To quote Sharif further, “there was pressure on us from the armed forces and the ISI. We were made to take such steps, by design, so as to deal a big blow to the politicians’ credibility.”

    Now, these disclosures amount to serious undercurrents that have gone a long way to malign Mohtarama Benazir Bhutto and her spouse, Asif Ali Zardari. And everyone within the legal fraternity and even in the intelligentsia knows fully well that under the rules of natural justice or under the laws in force in majority of advanced, successful democracies, any case instituted under pressure or with negative designs, is deemed a case of mala fide intentions and is, thus, liable to be struck down by the courts. But that was an era when even the judicial forums have been conducting their affairs in a strange manner. On one day, Bhutto and Zardari would be ordered to appear in a Rawalpindi court and on the next day, they would be directed to appear in Karachi. This in itself speaks volumes of the anti-Bhutto and anti-Zardari conspiracies that would be pursued for years (rather for more than a decade) with ‘enthusiasm’ and exceptional shrewdness. Dates of appearance would be stage-managed, prosecutors would be given specific advice and material and the entire might of the governmental machinery and agency networks would be employed to make sure that Bhutto and Zardari remain in prison, if not as convicts, then as under-trials.

    A study of Bhutto and Zardari cases reveals that they were case of poor, inadequate and questionable evidence, still these two leaders have been subjected to treatment that not even convicts of heinous offences would be meted out.Is this justice? Is this democracy? And how far is it justified highlighting heaps of rubbish again and again and projecting it as documents of incriminating evidence?

    The fact is the same that Nawaz Sharif has already been exposed as a leader committed sincerely to the cause of democracy. It is unfortunate that cases sans evidence were instituted during his tenure, but it is heartening that he (Nawaz Sharif) has revealed the truth without any fear or reluctance.

    Just have a look at some other words of Nawaz Sharif in the same interview. Sharif says: “I was not in favour of arresting Benazir Bhutto, but Saifur Rehman would insist upon her arrest. Ch Shujaat Hussain is witness to this fact that I wanted Benazir Bhutto to go abroad before being sentenced. In fact, I never wanted her to go to jail.”

    Exposing other follies and foibles of Saifur Rehman, Nawaz Sharif further revealed that Saifur Rehman was the main mover behind the move that was aimed at getting 14 journalists dismissed from service.

    This interview suffices to reveal the malice involved in the indictment of Bhutto and Zardari that led to the preparation of heaps of (questionable) evidence. But to democracy’s sheer bad luck, those heaps are being given too much display as if with the only objective of derailing the democratic system once again despite the fact that it (the democratic set-up) has come into being with the blessings of the masses.

    It also reveals the under-the-table functions and structures whose guns are directed at the PPP. Now, the time has come for the national institutions, which stand transformed under clean personalities like Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and COAS General Ashfaq Parvaz Kayani, to come forward and hit at these anti-Pakistan and anti-democracy moves with the power of the people entrusted through public confidence in these institutions. Otherwise, allow us for fighting yet another war that is against these sustained moves, against democracy and against the people of Pakistan.

    Fasihur Rehman

  4. Here is yet another proof of forged cases against the PPP leadership by the PMLN Government.

    New findings show that PPP was falsely implicated in such cases by Senator Saif ur Rehman for political gains.


    Saturday, January 02, 2010
    By Ansar Abbasi

    ISLAMABAD: The post-1996 probe into the Agosta submarine deal, which led to the removal of the then-Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Mansurul Haq and a corruption reference against Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari, was an alleged cover-up to save many key officials of the Pakistan Navy, besides turning a blind eye to a controversial $550 million deal of minehunters signed in 1992 during Nawaz Sharif’s first tenure.

    Documents available with The News show grey areas that remained untraced, while a key naval officer of that time told The News the cover-up in the submarine deal was meant to save the skin of many in the Pakistan Navy and was done by Senator Saifur Rehman, who was only interested in fixing Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari.

    The most interesting aspect of the whole affair was the statement of the then-director general Naval Intelligence (DGNI), who was instantly turned into an example for others when he was recalled from an overseas course, retired prematurely, court martialed and harassed to keep his mouth shut.

    According to the former DGNI, this project was finalised during Nawaz Sharif’s first tenure as prime minister but was never probed either by Senator Saifur Rehman, Pakistan Navy or by the NAB. Shahid said the cover-up in the submarine deal to save the skin of many in the Pakistan Navy was done by Senator Saifur Rehman, who was only interested in fixing Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari.

  5. Ansar Abbasi’s Confusion

    Saturday, January 02, 2010, Muharram 15, 1431 A.H http://www.jang.com.pk/jang/jan2010-daily/02-01-2010/main.htm

    The submarine kickbacks Pandora’s box reopened By Ansar Abbasi Saturday, January 02, 2010 http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=216475

    ISLAMABAD: The post-1996 probe into the Agosta submarine deal, which led to the removal of the then-Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Mansurul Haq and a corruption reference against Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari, was an alleged cover-up to save many key officials of the Pakistan Navy, besides turning a blind eye to a controversial $550 million deal of minehunters signed in 1992 during Nawaz Sharif’s first tenure.

    Documents available with The News show grey areas that remained untraced, while a key naval officer of that time told The News the cover-up in the submarine deal was meant to save the skin of many in the Pakistan Navy and was done by Senator Saifur Rehman, who was only interested in fixing Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari.

    The most interesting aspect of the whole affair was the statement of the then-director general Naval Intelligence (DGNI), who was instantly turned into an example for others when he was recalled from an overseas course, retired prematurely, court martialed and harassed to keep his mouth shut.

    The documents show the naval authorities charged DGNI Commodore Shahid Ashraf of getting Rs 1.5 million from a naval officer, who was alleged to have got illegal gratification and kickbacks from foreign suppliers of naval vessels, etc., but made an approver against the DGNI, who had given to the authorities a list of naval officers who had allegedly received kickbacks but were never touched and promoted as rear admirals instead.

    According to a source, the DGNI knew too much and, therefore, he was silenced. The NAB sources also confirmed the existence of a Feb 17, 1995 letter issued by SOFMA (the French company that was involved in Agosta deal) that talked of making payment of $40,000 to each of four naval officers whose names were mentioned in the same letter. Instead of probing the four officers, each one of them was later elevated as Rear Admiral.

    A statement of the DGNI submitted before the Board of Inquiry (BoI) was explosive but was ignored. When approached, Shahid Ashraf owned all that he had stated in the documents available with The News, and offered to present himself before a commission to spill the beans and uncover the faces, who, according to him, were alleged to have done wrong but were never touched.

    According to Ashraf, the Agosta deal was never struck by Adm Mansurul Haq, who had actually received kickbacks after the award of the contract for its smooth implementation. Those who had received the kickbacks before the award of the contract, he said, were never formally questioned.

    In his statement, he had told the BoI: “It needs no emphasis that lions share of kickbacks was paid before the award of the main contract. I had received information as the DGNI that Adm SM Khan, R Adm IH Naqvi, V Adm AU Khan, R Adm A Mujtaba, R Adm Jawed Iftikhar had received gratifications in connection with the award of contract for Agosta 90-B, for favouring the Agosta 90-B submarine acquisition by the Pakistan Navy.”

    He also revealed: “Col Ejaz Ahmad was actively pursuing the interest of the contractor and obliging officers concerned from time to time. My sources had intercepted information that Mr DEVENSAY of DCN (French company) had issued instructions in the form of a letter to Col Ejaz stationed in Rawalpindi as agent of DCN to pay $40,000 each to following officers of the Pakistan Navy: a. Cdre Mushtaq Ahmed, b. Cdre Khushnud Ahmed, c. Cdre SV Naqvi, and d. Cdre Naveed Ahmed”. All of these officers were said to be members of the committee for evaluation of technical specification of onboard equipment.

    He stated: “A copy of this letter was shown to me by R Adm Sarfraz Khan during investigation by Col Zafar in the presence of the Commanding Officer (Cdr Qazi), Cdre Shahid Nawaz (DGNI) and Cdr Shafiq Ahmed, Registrar Naval Court of Appeals. The copy of this letter was marked to Zafar Iqbal, stationed in Washington as agent of SOFMA, who was arrested by FIA. Mr DEVENSAY had directed him to release an amount of $160,000 out of special fund in favour of Col Ejaz for payment to these (four) officers.”

    He also stated: “Cash pay-off to officers was discussed in the Command and Staff meeting held immediately on return of CNS (Naval Chief) Adm Mansurul Haq from France in early 1995. The CNC informed the members that Cdre Shahid Ashraf had called me (Mansurul Haq) in France and seriously upset me by reporting that foreign currency was to be doled out to some serving officers of the PN. However, the investigation remained inconclusive as the Chief of Naval Staff deemed it appropriate to abandon the investigation for reason known to him.”

    Shahid told The News he had shared the same information with the then-acting Chief V Admiral AU Khan.

    Shahid, in his statement dated Aug 23, 1999, also disclosed: “As far as I can recall, evaluation teams comprising R Adm IH Naqvi, R Adm Jawed Iftikhar and R Adm SA Mujtaba visited China, France, England and Sweden. This team recommended Swedish submarine as FIRST choice. Then another team comprising of R Adm AU Khan, R Adm SA Mujtaba, Capt Mushtaq Ahmed, Capt SV Naqvi and Capt Naveed Ahmed visited France, England and Sweden. Serious deliberation took place at Naval Headquarters to finalise the recommendations. Cdre Khushnud Ahmed (then DNWOP), Cdre Mushtaq Ahmed, Crde Naveed Ahmed (DSMM), Cdre SV Naqvi (then DSMO), Capt ZU Alvi (DNC) remained actively involved in the evaluation process with both the team visited abroad.”

    He added: “It should be noted that R Adm Mujtaba was made member of both the teams that visited abroad. The depth of his involvement in the contract before and after its award can be gauged from the fact that he went out of his way in supporting the inclusion of Capt ZU Alvi in the first project team in France despite the fact that Capt Alvi did not qualify the criteria laid for the selection of the project mission team. He had also persuaded the then-CNS (Naval Chief) to override the observations made by the intelligence against Capt Alvi …”

    He revealed intelligence sources had also reported that Col Ejaz Ahmed, agent of SOFMA in Rawalpindi, had been in continuous liaison with the evaluation team and other officials in NHQ (Naval Headquarters) and MoD (Ministry of Defence). “I, as DGNI, issued certain instructions to impose restrictions on the agents of foreign firms getting involved in negotiations/agreement.” He noted the whole process to acquire submarines from France took place during the time of Admiral SM Khan, who remained Chief of the Naval Staff from November 1991 to Nov 1994.

    He also placed it on record that after he had protested against his “wrongful” retirement to the defence minister, a round-the-clock surveillance was placed on him; he was arrested on the orders of Cdre Rashidullah and detained for several days for recording of the summary of evidence while all other officers were free. “Several coercive measures were taken against me to force me into pleading guilty,” he added.

    According to Shahid, he was fixed on the basis of a statement of Capt Alvi, who became approver although there is no provision in the PN Ordinance or PN Rules for approver. Alvi, in his statement dated 17th of Oct, 1998, given under Section 337 of PPC before the additional deputy commissioner, Islamabad, had admitted to have received over Rs 4 million as illegal gratification and kickbacks from foreign suppliers and alleged to have paid some of the amount to Shahid and another officer Capt Liaquat Malik. Shahid said Alvi did not mention the name of many others whom he had paid heavy amounts.

    “The BoI (Board of Inquiry) may like to deliberate as to why did he make a statement taking only two names of officers who have been hurriedly tried, forced into pleading guilty and awarded harsh sentences,” the former DG NI said in his statement.

    Interestingly, the approver had admitted to have received kickbacks from foreign suppliers of naval craft, stores to Pakistan Navy and transfer of technology to the navy in return of favours shown to them by him in drawing up of contracts, negotiations, supervisions of constructions of sites and otherwise facilitating the contracts between the navy and the suppliers and manufacturers of such naval craft and stores and transfer of technology.

    Shahid, according to the charge-sheet served on him, was accused of having obtained money from Capt Alvi, who in all charges was in contact with the foreign suppliers, etc. One of the charges levelled against Shahid also talked of Capt Alvi to have received gratifications in MCMV project meant for the purchase of $550m worth Minehunter special crafts.

    According to the former DGNI, this project was finalised during Nawaz Sharif’s first tenure as prime minister but was never probed either by Senator Saifur Rehman, Pakistan Navy or by the NAB. Shahid said the cover-up in the submarine deal to save the skin of many in the Pakistan Navy was done by Senator Saifur Rehman, who was only interested in fixing Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari.

    Editor’s Note: Since it was not possible to contact all of these officers named or accused, The News would welcome their versions, if and when submitted for publication in these columns.

    Operation ‘minus-many’ launched in NAB Friday, January 01, 2010
    By Ansar Abbasi http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=216300

    ISLAMABAD: A surgical operation has been launched in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as the government has forced its chairman to remove its most important officials, including the DG operations, who has been targeted for issuing the order for the immediate implementation of the Supreme Court order on the NRO.

    Sources said some key provincial officials of the NAB, including its provincial director generals, were also on the hit list and expected to be changed and replaced by those loyal to the government. The Law Ministry, these sources said, had also sought details of the vacant posts from the NAB chairman, who under the NAB law is the competent authority for all internal appointments and postings.

    The sources said that the NAB chairman Navid Ahsan had been pressurised to remove its DG operation Lt Col (retd)) Shahzad Bhatti, who on December 17, the very next day of the Supreme Court short order on the NRO, had issued a letter to all concerned to immediately implement the apex court’s order. Bhatti was also the person who was the custodian of the precious evidence presently secured in the NAB’s strong room but feared to be destroyed or stolen.

    Bhatti, now reverted as director finance, the post that he was holding two years back, earned the wrath of the powerful and mighty in the government after he sought immediate re-opening of the cases of the NRO beneficiaries; passed on a direction to the police to arrest those who were proclaimed offenders as on Oct 4, 2007; asked for freezing of assets of all the NRO beneficiaries as was the situation before the promulgation of the NRO; required the revision of the ECL as was its status on Oct 4, 2007; and ordered for the re-opening of all the inquiries and investigations, which were closed down because of the emergence of the NRO.

    Besides Bhatti, the DG administration/HR Siraj Naeem has also been removed. Naeem, who has been made DG Awareness and Prevention, has reportedly gone on a few weeks’ leave.

    NAB Spokesman Ghazni Khan, when asked, said that these were routine internal changes, which the chairman NAB had made as per his authority under the law. Ghazni denied that these changes were made under the government’s pressure. About the expected changes, the spokesman said that he was not aware of any future changes being contemplated.

    A senior NAB official, however, said in order to tame the NAB and to ensure that it might dance to the tunes of the government, key changes were being made in the NAB. Within the NAB, presently there is great unrest and different officials have expressed to this correspondent their fear that those who had prepared the lists of the NRO beneficiaries and had formulated the evidence for the apex court were on the hit list of the government.

    Interestingly, the Supreme Court had sought the replacement of the chairman NAB, the bureau’s prosecutor general and its deputy prosecutor general. The Supreme Court in its short order had placed on record its displeasure about the conduct and lack of proper and honest assistance and cooperation on the part of these three top NAB officials. The apex court had also noted that it was not possible for the court to trust them with proper and diligent pursuit of the cases falling within their respective spheres of operation.

    “It is, therefore, suggested that the federal government may make fresh appointments against the said posts of persons possessing high degree of competence and impeccable integrity in terms of Section 6 of the NAB Ordinance as also in terms of the observations of this court made in the case of Khan Asfandyar Wali v. Federation of Pakistan (PLD 2001 SC 607). However, till such fresh appointments, the incumbents may continue to discharge their obligations strictly in accordance with law.”

    According to a source, the apex court’s judgment has halted the government’s plan to abolish the NAB, which is now being transformed into a government-friendly entity to achieve the desired results.


    Five generals also got their loans written off

    Sunday, December 06, 2009

    By Rauf Klasra

    ISLAMABAD: If you thought that only civilian and politicians got billions of rupees worth of loans written off from state-owned banks, you thought wrong.

    Records now show that many top military officers got their loans written off. This lucky lot included five lieutenant generals, two major generals and a battalion of other senior uniformed beneficiaries, with some Army (mis)managed institutions to boot.

    The Army controlled institutions also got their share from the national plunder with the Army Welfare Trust (AWT) got a massive loan written off worth Rs 14.49 million from a state-owned financial entity, which is now defunct (hardly a surprising fate).

    Some of the cases were, however, genuine as their loans were written off in accordance with rules.

    According to the official list of loan write-off beneficiaries tabled in the National Assembly, Lt General (retd) Ali Kuli Khan and his father Lt General Habibullah Khan had their loans written off. General Kuli had shot to prominence when he was ignored by the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in favour of Gen Musharraf in a bid to succeed General Jehangir Karamat as the next COAS.

    The list shows that General Kuli Khan got two loans written off from the Allied Bank of Pakistan while he was still serving in the Army in the mid 90s. The first loan was of Rs1.8 million and second was Rs1.6 million outstanding against Janana De Malucho Textile Mills Limited, Kohat owned by his father General (retd) Habibullah Khan. General Kuli was then one of the directors of the textile mills. After the death of General Habib, he became the chief executive of this textile unit. General Habib, too, was a beneficiary of this loan write off.

    It’s a little known fact that Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had once served as the staff officer to General Ali Kuli Khan during his stint as Chairman Joint Chiefs of staff in 1998 when Jahangir Karamat was the Chief of Army Staff (COAS). General Kuli shot to prominence within the ruling political circles when he was heard opposing the forced resignation of General Kamarat and had indicated to make Nawaz Sharif ‘fall in line’ if he became the next COAS. Later, Gen Kuli Khan had denied this charge in an interview with this correspondent. But, Ch Nisar Ali Khan had also confirmed to this correspondent in an interview that Ali Kuli was not elevated to the post of the Army chief precisely for this reason after some of his quotes were conveyed to Nawaz Sharif.

    Talking to The News from Peshawar, General (retd) Ali Kuli Khan said that he “did not remember” getting any loan written off by him during his military service. General Kuli said, “There might be some rescheduling of the loans by the banks outstanding against the mills.” He said only the politicians get loans written off by using their clout. Of course, general can dare anyone argue with that logic.

    Lt General (retd) K M Azhar, who later became active in politics, of Rex Breen Batteries got Rs16 million written off by the Agriculture Development Bank. His business partners were Misbah Azhar, Sward Azhar, Ahmed Jamal Siddiqui, Syed Ijaz Ahmed Hashmi, Mauro Dr Bashir Ahmed.

    Lt General (retd) SA Burkey and Lt General (retd) Safdar Butt also figure amongst the happy generals benefiting from the state institutions generosity.

    Another prominent name on the list is that of Air Marshal (retd) A Rahim Khan.

    Air Marshal (retd) Viqar Azeem also got Rs15 million written off from Pakistani Kuwait Investment Co. Lt General (retd) SA Burkey, Major General Zahid Ali Akbar, Brig MM Mahmood, Begum Omar Mahmood, Saeed Ahmed also got loans written off.

    Gohar Ayub Khan, brother of General Kuli Khan—Raza Kuli Khan also got a loan of Rs7.2 million written off against Rehana Woolen Mills. Tariq Ayub Khan, Zahid Ahsan, Ahsan Khan were the directors of the mills whose loan was written off by the financial institution SAPICO.

    Major General (retd) M Mumtaz from Abbottabad, Lt Colonel (retd) Shaukat and Major (retd) Tajuddin Rs1.2 million, Major General (retd) Ghaziuddn are also in the list. Major General (retd) G Umar also got Rs8.5 million written off from the Agriculture Development Bank.

    Lt General (retd) Safdar Butt, Major General (retd) Abdullah Malik, Brig (retd) M M Mahmood, Col (retd) M Zafar Khan, Mohammad Afzal Khan, Mrs Hamida Farhat also got benefits from the UBL. General (retd) Abdullah had resigned after the military coup of General Zia and had opposed the military take over of July 1977.

    Talking to The News, Brig (retd) Mahmood denied that his industrial unit EFF, EFF Industries had got the loan written off. He clarified that he had entered into an agreement with the bank but this package was never implemented until recently.

    The list also names Brig (retd) M A Baig and Qamar Ahmad, BA Siddiqi, Zubair Rashid, Mohammad Sadiq Baig, Riazur Rehman, Mrs Mamomnna Khatoon, Mrs Mehr Riaz, Mr Taufiq Ahmed Rs 1.09 million (UBL). Lt-Col (retd) Ch M Anis Ahmed, Col Atta ullah, Shahid Atta, Mst Qamar un Nisa Rs 2.6 million, Irfan Rice Mills of Col (retd) Nazar Hussain Rs 1.6 million, Mehr Textile Mills, Chakwal, Col Mohammad Ayub Khan, Ch Nisar Ali Khan, Ch Asad Ali Khan, Mrs Sultana Zakia, Mohammad Nawaz, Ch Ghulam Ali Khan. Major General (retd) Khadim H Raja, Air Marshal (retd) A Rahim Khan, Mrs Sattar Azim Khan also got loan written off.

    Mohammad Textile Mills Limited of Air Commodore (retd) Amanullah got a loan of Rs95 million written off from the UBL. His other business partners were Khurshid Alam, Mohamamd Rafiq, Mrs Bilquis Begum, Tanveer Ahmed, Naseer Ahmed, Begum Sultana Fammay Khan, Sobia Fammy Khan.

    Air Vice Marshal (retd) Ata Elahi Sheikh of the National Fructose Limited also got Rs43 million written off. His business partners were Shakirullah Durrani, Mohammad Aslam, Qamaruzaman, Syed Safiullah, Dr Mohammad Yousuf, Khan Akbar Majeed and TR Sariq.

    Sairani Cotton Ginning Factory owners Capt (retd) Shahraz Latif and his business partners Shahnaz Latif, Ch Mohammad Ashraf also got loan written off. Air Marshal (retd) A Rashid Sheikh, Air Vice Marshal (retd) S Moinur Rab, Group Captain (retd) Mohammad Ismal Khan, Salman Rashid of Sky Rooms Limited got Rs 8.4 million loan written off. Brig (retd) SM Bakar Naqvi, Mian Ahmed Rabbani, Pervez Iftikar Khan, Abdul Aziz, NM Khanzada and Major (retd) Afzalul Haq also among the beneficiaries.

    Col (retd) M Yaqoob of Aswan Tentage and Canvas got a huge loan of Rs276 million written off from Bankers Equity. His other business partners were Col (retd) M Yaqoob, Mohamamd Afzal Chugtai, Mohammad Siddiqi, Haji Ghulam Sabir and Idris Ahmed Butt. Farook Pulp of Mjaor Nasim A Farooqi, Naeem A Farooqi, Pervez Farooqi, Munir Ahmed Khan and Saleem Farooqi got 2.1 million loan written off.

    Captain (retd) Shaukat of Locus Enterprises got Rs8.8 million written off. His business partners were Wiqar Abbas, Khalid Khan, Col (retd) M Sadiq Khan, Nabil Hasan, Masoud Abbasi and Abdul Razak. Raja Iftikar Kiani of Ms Alliance Textile Mills, Jhelum got a wavier of Rs16 million from the MCB.

    A Lt-Col, who owned the Meditex Intl got Rs6.322 million written off from the HBL. His business partner was Col (retd) Bashir Ahmed. Commander Abdul Latif also got Rs 10 million written off. Shangrila Macropole Inn, Lahore got Rs4.3 million loan written off. Brig (retd) Mohammad Aslam Khan and Co got Rs4.3 million written off. Feroz Sons Textile Mills Mirpur owners Col (retd) Munir Hussain, Nasim Farms’s and Major General (retd) Qazi Nasim Majeed are also among the beneficiaries.

    Col (retd) Saleem of Special Iron and Steel Mills Limited, Lt General (retd) Habibullah Khan, Brig (retd) M Jan Hahang M Khandawala, Raza Kuli Khan, Col (retd) M Sharif Khan, Begum Tehmina Habibullah, M I Khurram, M Nazir Khan and IA Khurram are also among the beneficiaries.

    Major (retd) Mohamamd Anwar, S Aijaz Ali Shah, S Amjad Ali Shah, S Ghulam Qadir, S Aftab Ali Shah, S Ali Gohar Shah, S Amin Shah also on the list. Lt-Col (retd) M Jaffar, JH Dinshaw Rs 7.2 million, Chemphar Pakistan Limited of Brig (retd) Shareef Rahat, Captain (retd) AM Murad and Major (retd) Tariq Baig are also among the beneficiaries.

    Musharraf stopped probes, says ex-chief of NAB
    By Khaleeq Kiani
    Sunday, 06 Dec, 2009 http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/musharraf-stopped-probes,-says-exchief-of-nab-629
    Is evidence with NAB safe from saboteurs?

    Sunday, December 06, 2009

    By Ansar Abbasi

    ISLAMABAD: The Swiss-carton scandal has raised in-house fears in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) about the safety and security of the bulk of original evidence concerning high profile cases, settled under the controversial NRO, and presently protected in the bureau’s headquarter in Islamabad.

    Already, the NAB was warned by a leading intelligence agency of the country of the possible sabotage effort to destroy such evidence.

    A credible NAB source said that some months back, the Bureau’s director general HR had received a verbal warning from an official of the Interior Ministry, conveying that the highly critical original evidence about the high profile corruption cases settled under the NRO could be destroyed by saboteur’s fire, which could be later described as a mere accident.

    The Interior Ministry official also shared the name and telephone number of the intelligence officer, a serving brigadier, who contacted the Interior Ministry to pass on a proper warning to the NAB. After receiving the Interior Ministry’s verbal warning, the NAB official also contacted the intelligence brigadier, who confirmed the report and recommended the Bureau to take all possible steps to ensure the protection of the valuable documentary evidence.

    Following this warning, the NAB improved its record room through renovation and turned it into a strong room by removing all its windows, tiling the walls and disconnecting electricity connection, to pre-empt any chance of saboteur fire. The record room has also been secured through multiple lock system and not many know in the Bureau as to who has got the keys to get access to the record room.

    When contacted, NAB spokesman Ghazni Khan though confirmed that foolproof arrangement were recently made to protect the NAB record, he denied to be in knowledge of any intelligence warning issued to the Bureau about a possible sabotage effort to destroy the crucial evidence. “It is well protected now,” the spokesman said.

    However, a source in the NAB said that Wajid Shamsul Hasan-led sneaky operation, which was caught red-handed by Geo News, to secure 12 cartons of evidence relating to the Swiss money laundering and kickback cases against President Asif Ali Zardari and others, has raised fears within the NAB about the safety of its available record.

    The source said a lady consultant and a joint secretary of a ministry, which was headed by a powerful minister, who later reached an elevated position, had also made an effort to take away certain original files but a retired colonel, serving in the Bureau, retrieved these files from the lady consultant’s car before she could take them away.

    A newspaper report had also recently confirmed that the lady consultant had spent over two months in the NAB headquarters to supervise scrutiny of classified documents and during her stay she was authorised to check record of any case, including those of top leaders President Asif Ali Zardari, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and others.

    Media reports also suggested that senior officials of the government’s investigative ministry had visited the NAB’s headquarters shortly after the formation of the PPP-led coalition government last year. However, the government had denied those reports.

    The NAB has been under tremendous pressure and its fate is hanging in the balance since the government announced that it would be replaced by another accountability department.

    SC will be asked to secure 12 Swiss cartons in London

    Sunday, December 06, 2009

    By Ahmad Noorani

    ISLAMABAD: When the Supreme Court meets on Monday to decide the fate of the infamous NRO, an even urgent petition is being filed to ensure that the corruption evidence boxed in the 12 cartons stolen from Geneva and hidden somewhere in London under the supervision of Pakistan High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan is in safe hands.

    The petitioners of NRO are all set to request the Supreme Court’s full court bench on Monday to get control of the 12 cartons which disappeared from Geneva in full view of Geo TV cameras and are now reportedly kept at the residence of Pakistan’s High Commissioner in London.

    The petitioners will argue that these cartons and all other records present in the NAB headquarters in Islamabad should be ordered to be taken into possession as no court will be able to proceed in huge corruption cases if this record is damaged or tampered with even if the Supreme Court terms the NRO unconstitutional.

    “We will bring to the apex court notice that even if the NRO is struck down the courts which will hear these corruption cases closed under NRO would be unable to proceed if the relevant record and evidences collected by the NAB and other government agencies after spending million of rupees of tax payers’ money is destroyed or tampered with, as according to different reports this record is not in safe hands” major NRO petitioner Roedad Khan told The News.

    “We will also bring into full court bench’s notice that there is a serious threat of destruction or tampering with the evidence under which conviction was made in 2003, and in 2007 after promulgation of NRO accounts of US$60 million were released. He said that real purpose of the petitions is not only to get the discriminatory and unconstitutional legislation struck down but to bring the people’s money back to the national exchequer.

    Roedad Khan revealed to The News that he and his lawyer will appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday that they strongly fear that even if the NRO is struck down the present set up of the NAB and its politically motivated prosecutors will not plead these corruption cases in the courts and thus court proceeding with existing prosecution infrastructure will become meaningless and useless and will meet the same fate as the promulgation of NRO. Roedad Khan said that he will pray to the court to appoint independent prosecutors who could also have full and unhindered access to genuine record and evidences of these corruption cases.

    On the other hand while the location of the missing Swiss cartons scandal remained a mystery on Saturday, NAB’s prosecutor general Dr Danishwar Malik was still present in London. Danishwar remained with Wajid Shamsul Hasan on Saturday. When contacted by this correspondent on Saturday Wajid Shamsul Hasan said that he could not talk as he was in an important meeting. He asked this correspondent to call again but did not take the call.

    Dr Danishwar Malik’s cell number 0333-5552237 is working in London but he is also not attending any calls from any unidentified number from Pakistan. Despite repeated calls and messages on his cell, Danishwar did not reply to explain as to why he was keeping the sensitive record in London and not bringing it back to Pakistan.

    Chairman NAB, who was repeatedly approached by this correspondent and a senior ‘The News’ journalist on Saturday neither attended the call nor replied to apprise as to why, despite his promise that record will be brought back to Pakistan on first available flight, it has not yet been sent.

    When Wajid Shamsul Hasan was asked by The News two days back that record was lying at his home, he did not deny the information and simply said that record was in the custody of government of Pakistan in London. Like the NRO, it seems now that the fate of this Swiss cases record will also be decided by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

    ISLAMABAD, Dec 5: The much-trumpeted accountability process started by former President Pervez Musharraf with a stated aim to rid the country of corrupt politicians and businesses became victim of the military ruler’s own doings when, in order to prolong his stay in power, he repeatedly intervened in the last years of his rule to prevent action against some leading politicians and political families, including not only his supporters and allies like the Chaudhrys of Gujrat but also major opposition families like the Sharifs and Bhuttos.

    As if this were not enough, both General Musharraf and his handpicked prime minister Shaukat Aziz often stood in the way of anti-corruption proceedings against some highly controversial businessmen and big businesses on the excuse that such actions could discourage “economic progress”.

    These revelations have been made by a highly respected retired army general and former head of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) who was unceremoniously removed from his position more than two years ago, but has now decided to speak his heart out on the expiry of the period that prevented him from discussing service matters.

    Lt.-Gen (retd) Shahid Aziz who, after having served as Chief of General Staff (CGS) and Corps Commdander under Gen Musharraf, was appointed Chairman of NAB, believes had he and the accountability bureau been given an opportunity to proceed against corrupt politicians and their cronies, the future of the country would have been secured.

    Gen (retd) Aziz, who now lives outside Islamabad on his farm in the foothills of Murree, agreed to speak to Dawn as he believes the truth needs to be told about the manner in which the entire anti-corruption process was sacrificed to expediency.

    He said that initially he resisted pressure to hand over the lists of politicians being probed by the Nab for political use in the 2007 elections, but later a standing committee of the parliament ordered Nab to part with the lists. When he again showed reluctance, Shahid Aziz added, Lt-Gen Hamid Javed tried to convince him not to disobey the parliamentary committee.

    The former Nab chief’s response was that he could not hand over the lists to any forum or a government institution unless the investigations reached final stage, except to the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

    Instead, he issued an order that investigations against all politicians had been stopped for four months of electioneering and would restart after the elections. He said he was appointed as Nab chairman with a pre-condition that he would not open old cases against politicians and other prominent people and was pressured into formally closing down cases against politicians supporting General Musharraf.

    The seven-point agenda soon turned into a one-point agenda of strengthening the economy even if it meant ignoring or shelving corruption cases by holders of public offices or their cronies.

    In an interview with Dawn, the retired general mentioned a number of big names – Benazir Bhutto, Chaudhrys of Gujrat, Mian Nawaz Sharif, Faisal Saleh Hayat, Malik Riaz Hussain of Bahria Town, oil companies, sugar millers and many others – whose cases could not be taken to the logical end because of pressure coming directly from General Musharraf and his office.

    And, finally it was pressure from the Presidency to close down cases against Benazir Bhutto under the influence of foreign powers that he had to resign unceremoniously, leaving his four-year tenure of Nab chairman in 18 months.

    “I was told repeatedly not to create problems and not to destabilise the government, otherwise the system would collapse. They (the president and his team) gave a strange logic that corruption and economic development go hand in hand,” said Mr Shahid Aziz.

    “If you stop corruption, there will be no development. If ministers and politicians are not given personal benefits in contracts, why would they pursue development schemes. They have to be given personal incentives…contracts to their sons and kins,” he quoted Khalid Maqbool, a former Nab chairman, as trying to convince him.

    The retired general recalled he faced the “worst-ever pressure” from the president and his team to close down cases against Benazir Bhutto because foreign powers, led by the United Kingdon and the US, were working on a patch-up between Pervez Musharraf and BB.

    After a lot of discussions on the subject, Shahid Aziz reminisced, one day presidential aide Tariq Aziz “called me to say that the President had decided to close cases against BB and has asked you to make this happen. I refused and said I would better resign than closing these cases”.

    “Tariq Aziz called me up again to say that we have discussed and decided that if you don’t close the cases, you can resign. I asked who are these ‘we’ who have decided so. Tariq Aziz said, Tariq Aziz, Gen Hamid Javed and Gen Kiyani (the then ISI chief). He, however requested that instead of destabilising the government through resignation, you (Gen Aziz) should go on a two-month leave on medical grounds and then resign.

    “I obliged and tendered resignation on May 4, 2007, to be effective from July 4, 2007.”

    He said he was also pressured to terminate the contracts of lawyers in the BB cases, but was helped by the then attorney general Makhdoom Ali Khan to draft a letter to change the lawyer’s contract instead of their termination.

    He said he was repeatedly asked by President Musharraf personally to formally close down cases against Chaudhrys and not to open cases against Faisal Saleh Hayat.

    He said he declined to close cases against Chaudhrys but did not pursue them either.

    He said when he put the name of Malik Riaz Hussain (of Bahria Town) in the exit control list while investigating a forest land case, he had to face bitter arguments with President Musharraf to take out Malik’s name from the ECL.

    “As President of Pakistan, I give my personal guarantee that he (Malik Riaz) would not run away. Isn’t a personal guarantee of the President of Pakistan sufficient to satisfy you”, he quoted Mr Musharraf as saying.

    Malik’s name was pulled out of the ECL subsequently, he said.

    He said he tried to collect and record evidence in pending cases against Nawaz Sharif. He was stopped by the President and his team from investigations, saying these cases had been settled and he had to concede.

    He said although he was given a firm commitment that he would be free to investigate new corruption cases instead of opening old cases, he was stopped from pursuing even new corruption cases and specifically mentioned sugar, oil, telecom and banking sector where he was not allowed to investigate .

    He said he had to stop investigations into the sugar prices scandal after preliminary investigations because Musharraf had been made to believe that sugar would disappear from the market if investigations continued and that would create problems for the government.

    He said he had to issue a statement as chairman of Nab that investigations into the sugar scam had been stopped on the government request on the grounds of sugar disappearance but also mentioned that NAB did not agree to this argument. Tariq Aziz, he said called up to say that he had unnecessarily embarrassed the government.

    He said when Nab was investigating into the oil pricing scandal, the then prime minister Shaukat Aziz called him to his office and said “the government of Pakistan has decided to stop investigations into the oil pricing issue. I said, Sir, as per powers given under the NAB law, my institution has decided to investigate the case. The PM in a threatening tone said, think again”. He claimed that PM Aziz, his economic team and Abdullah Yousaf were all responsible for corruption and wrongdoings in the oil pricing.

    He said NAB’s efforts to probe into telecom and banking sector transactions were foiled by Prime Minister Aziz because he had interests in these sectors. He said he was also not allowed to probe into the 2005 stock exchange crisis. Explaining he said the law did not allow NAB to start investigations in the financial and banking sector unless requested by the State Bank of Pakistan that was under the direct influence of PM Aziz.

  7. I hope Ayaz Amir includes himself in the list of pundits who applauded Musharraf’s coup and I hope one day he explains why he was so eager to offer justifications of the 99 coup.

    that being said, this is a good article by him.