Proud son of a proud father
The efforts to make peace with Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry started in the very beginning of January 2009. According to a source, some PPP troubleshooters were of the opinion that Justice Chaudhry’s track record as a hopeless corrupt and pliant judge belied his posture as an avatar of judicial activist. They believed that some channels could be explored to sound him out on his demands, if any. Soon it was found out that Justice Iftikhar, after all, just another Pakistani who had been raising hell in order to make the PPP ‘understand’ him. It was at this juncture that Mallik Riaz jumped into the fray. Being a very clever man, his understood that a Pakistani’s love for Islam, justice, human rights etc met its Waterloo at the hands of Mammon, the god of wealth.
To cut the story short, it was in December that the deal was finalized between President Zardari and Justice Chaudhry that the latter would be paid Rs3500 million through his son, Dr Arsalan. Mallik Riaz took it upon himself to pay the money. He had his own axe to grind: He hoped that his own cases pending in the Supreme Court would be taken care of.
But Mallik Riaz and the some PPP-walas were skeptical of Justice Chaudhry. They thought that since he and his fellow judges had become untouchable, he may renege on his part of the deal. They decided to keep a record of all movements of Dr Arsalan, which included videotaping him, entering five-star hotels and casinos and night clubs. Also, strict watch was kept on how much and where he used the credit cards provided to him by Mallik Riaz.
It must be noted that Mallik Riaz is as close to generals as he is to President Zardari. Thus the usually-clever Mallik confided the matter to a couple of generals. Within days, General Kiani demanded his share of the deal, and it was agreed that the General would also be paid the same amount through his brother (a separate report is need on it). According to sources, General Kiani’s brother got the amount within days of the deal.
What Mallik Riaz and the PPP-walas did not realize is that once the generals were in on the affair, the ISI stepped in. Thus, the ISI sleuths spied on Dr Arsalan and his family as well as the PPP-hired people who were spying on Dr Arsalan and his family. Here we have a classic case of spies being spied on.
No one, even Dr Arsalan, has denied that money was transferred. That Dr Arsalan was flying with his family on First Class of expensive airlines such as Emirates should have alerted to Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. But why? He was the main beneficiary of the deal and it was his own son who had taken money on his behalf.
This much is very clear and accepted by all. But the question is: Why was the cat let out of the bag given that General Kiani also got his pound of flesh? Why were two most notorious ISI-backed anti-PPP journalists (i.e., Ansar Abbasi and Shahin Sahbai) were brought into action with undeniable details of Dr Arsalan’s corruption?
It is widely believed that by making the PPP-Justice Chaudhry deal, the Army/ISI wanted to kill two birds with one stone. They wanted to keep Justice Chaudhry in his place who had recently reproached the Army and the ISI for being above the law. He had recently summoned the ISI and FC chiefs to court. But they decided not to appear before him, which enraged Justice Chaudhry making say that the Army and intelligence agencies must work within the constitutional-legal limits on them. The second bird to kill was the PPP. This is an election year, and such a case of bribing the judiciary will irreparably damage the reputation of the PPP and also turn Justice Chaudhry against President Zardari and his party for not keeping the deal secret as promised.
Now this is what will happen: The Supreme Court-PPP Government animosity will multiply and in his mad rage Justice Chaudhry and his fellow judges will do all they can to destroy the PPP’s chances to win the next elections. The Army-ISI will support Justice Chaudhry through media in order to earn his indebtedness to them. No one will ask any question about General Kiani’s brother or Dr Arsalan. All fury will be let loose on the PPP. The winner, as usual, will the corrupt and the immoral, i.e., the Judiciary and the Army/ISI.
(Ikhtiar Hussain is a human rights activist who lives in Bronx in New York. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)