Double standards of the Sharifs
By Shafiq Awan
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is considered “Mr Neat and Clean” and wants the same kind of people around him, especially in the cabinet. That is why he has chosen his team very carefully without relying on any references or recommendations. Moreover, the moment he finds out about a corrupt member in his “team”, he kicks him/her out instantly.
Unfortunately, he has often had unpleasant experiences and has had to welcome some uninvited guests in his party. Nominations from elder brother Nawaz Sharif have always caused a series of scandals for him and his government.
During his last tenure, Mian Mairaj Din (late) was forced to resign as the provincial minister in an alleged power theft case while the same charges were levelled against Prisons Minister Chaudhry Ghafoor in the current cabinet. Although no action was taken against Ghafoor. Only shaking hands with a clenched fist with Chaudhry Ghafoor will not serve the purpose Mr CM.
Mian Mairaj Din was not Shahbaz’s choice but was recommended by Mian Nawaz Sharif. He was charged with electricity theft from his own cinema and eventually told to quit the cabinet gently and asked to resign. Though he had claimed that he had rented out the cinema – which was true – and said the tenant was responsible for the power theft, it wasn’t convincing enough for Shahbaz.
Currently, Punjab Prisons Minister Chaudhry Ghafoor was not Shahbaz’s choice but was from his elder brother’s “quota”. The result was obvious: Ghafoor created scandal after scandal.
His first case happened at the Lahore airport when he was caught scuffling with the Customs authorities to get some of his friends out of the airport without being checked. The second was in the Punjab Assembly where he ‘jumped’ at a female assembly member and snatched a placard. Now he has been charged for electricity theft at his farmhouse.
Ghafoor has denied the charges saying he was unable to pay the bill but kept utilising the service for a year. Technically, this is considered power theft.
Nevertheless, no action was taken against him, as Shahbaz is helpless against his brother who had favoured Ghafoor to take care of their Raiwind palaces while they were in exile.
The facts behind the alleged power theft can be checked by visiting the website of the Lahore Electricity Supply Company and by entering reference number 03122101267056 in the category of rural consumers. You’ll find billing details of Chaudhry Surjan Khan of the Madni Farmhouse, Raiwind, revealing that he has not paid the bill since February 2009. Chaudhry Surjan Khan is Chaudhry Ghafoor’s father.
WAPDA authorities are equally responsible for not taking action. They say Ghafoor always threatened them with his position and got away by saying that he was close to the Sharifs and the power minister.
When the LESCO management was changed, they directed the SDO of the area to cut power supply to the minister’s house. However, the authorities contacted the minister and requested him to pay the bill, who said he could not pay the dues as he was on a visit to the Faisalabad jail. He requested them to not cut power supply to his farmhouse and assured them of paying the bill soon. But the supply was cut off and restored only after he managed to pay the bill.
In November 1998, WAPDA had issued a notice to the late Mian Mairaj Din to pay his electricity bill, to which he complied. But he was not restored to the cabinet. He was forced to resign after a month at the age of 70 and after serving the Muslim League for 50 years.
Those who criticised Rana Sanaullah’s recent visit to the office of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi should know that he did it with the permission of his bosses – the Sharifs – and every wrong done with the bosses’ permission is always right.
MPA Shumaila Rana was ousted in an alleged credit card scam and MNA Haji Pervez lost his seat in an examination fraud case. Another MPA from Gujrat, Haji Nasir, was kicked out by the court for having a fake degree. But the party did not take any action, instead he claimed party ticket in PP-111 by-polls. However, the election tribunal intervened and barred him from contesting the elections.
Education Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rahman’s late night visits to a farmhouse – in the same lane as that of Chaudhry Ghafoor’s – are also being monitored and he is being warned to avoid them. MNA Abid Sher Ali should also be careful about his late night activities.
PML-N activists question why Chaudhry Ghafoor is immune to any action. If the party can take serious action against its MNAs and MPAs, then why can’t it take action against a cabinet member? Only because he is close to the Sharifs? What is the principled stance of the Sharifs?
Public Accounts Committee Chairman Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan can add another feather to his cap by taking suo motu notice of the minister’s involvement in power theft or the same option is open to PAC Punjab Chairman Chaudhry Zaheeruddin Khan.