Filthy rich Khadim-e-Aala – by Shafiq Awan

Shahbaz Sharif is ‘very rich’, but where did the money come from?
By Shafiq Awan

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is the richest member of the Punjab Assembly, with multi-million pounds of foreign assets mentioned in his declared assets to the Election Commission of Pakistan.

The question arises, why are foreign assets mentioned in this declaration, not part of the previous declarations made by the CM? If we go through his declaration before going into exile, we cannot find these foreign assets.

No authority, including the Federal Board of Revenue, has raised any questions as to how these assets were acquired. Which source of income has helped him add these assets to his kitty? If any ordinary person had made such a declaration, the agencies concerned would have pounced on him and his family. But no one has questioned our politicians about the sources of these overnight rises in their assets. These are ours institutions’ double standards, which grill the common man and facilitate the rich ones.

In the recent past, Nawaz Sharif, with his signatures, had declared his assets in NA-123 by-elections. Nawaz was shown having not paid any income tax, still no authority or media quarter raised the issue as to how one of the country’s key political leaders was shown living such a miserable life.

Ahsan Iqbal later defended his boss with the argument that the assets declared by Nawaz were indeed accurate. A statement that was later made all the more suspicious when Siddiqul Farooq said Nawaz’s daily expense was Rs 3.2 million. You can multiply the figures by 365 days, but be assured, no action will be taken against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief.

Even if we were to buy into Ahsan’s theory, Nawaz’s living style would completely negate that claim. Comparing Nawaz’s asset with living style indicates that he is living beyond his means, which is a crime.

But alas, rules were made for lesser men.

If any rules are actually applicable on politicians, then the only example that comes to mind is the non-Punjabi Pakistan People’s Party. In the eyes of our laws, Punjabi leaders are more revered than sacred cows.

An application was filed with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) two years back, pleading to probe the Sharif brothers’ assets, including a steel mill in Saudi Arabia and property in London. But, predictably, NAB did not act.

In January a news agency reported that the Sharifs’ owned properties in London worth millions of pounds, but PML-N hawks were quick to deny the claim and declared it a “character assassination campaign” against the PML-N leadership.

Appearing on a TV show, Ahsan Iqbal declared the news item the “brain child of the cronies of Musharraf”. However, we now see that Shahbaz Sharif has declared his foreign assets. I am sure Ahsan Iqbal will avoid speaking on the issue now. The FBR, or any other government agency, will probably not bother to hold any inquiry into the source of these declared assets, because such an act would of course be tantamount to “political victimisation”, an allegation that the PPP avoids at all costs.

The recent power theft at a PML-N election rally and another case of power theft involving Prisons Minister Chaudhry Gafoor was brushed under the carpet. WAPDA authorities have given the PML-N a clean sheet. Although, we all know that if an ordinary person had committed such a crime, he would have been served a severe punishment.

The PML-N leadership has admitted that the district administration had been assisting in the arrangements of the rally. PML-N MNA Khawaja Saad Rafique, during a TV show, threatened the correspondent and asked him to tender an apology for claiming that the rally had stolen electricity. The power theft was shown live on almost every TV channel, but Mr Khawaja still claims electricity was not stolen.

The real question is why DCO Lahore Sajjad Bhutta and town municipal officers had come to the PML-N’s rescue. Rafique’s sole objective was to declare that the PML-N was the party of innocents. It would be interesting to see how he defends the electricity stolen by the prisons minister.

Just recently, an SHO stripped some suspects and publicly tortured. Is the incident – which speaks of a mindset — one of the tenants of good governance?

The “model” Punjab government did not take any action against the police officers involved in this torture until the media pointed it out and raised the issue.

If rulers ignore thefts and keep each other free from accountability, then such incidents will become routine. If the rulers will not abide by the law, how can they expect the rest not to follow suite? Good governance should start from one’s own home. The same goes for accountability.

A PML-N stalwart was right when he said, “If the party starts unmasking the so-called virtuous and ‘valet de chamber’ class, what will it be left with?”\story_4-3-2010_pg7_10



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