Islam emphasises importance of ethics, morals, justice and equality for all, mandating our rulers to lead by example, with supremacy of law. It stresses upon learning from others, even your enemies. Principles like conflict of interest, accountability, equality and justice are enshrined in our religion, yet nobody cares to follow them.
Israel, a country illegally occupying Palestinian lands, is not recognised by Pakistan, yet the fact remains that these two states were created on the basis of religion. In April 2014, Tel Aviv District Court Judge David Rosen convicted former PM Ehud Olmert, for “acute conflict of interest” during his tenure as Mayor Jerusalem in 1999 by helping a land developer receive municipality licenses for Holyland Park residential project. The judge stated that “public servants who accept bribes are akin to traitors” and those who take bribes are a disgrace and they cause public to lose faith in government, leading to collapse of government structure. Olmert was also accused for sale and lease back of a Jerusalem property on financial terms favourable to him, paying $32,500 below market value, apart from receiving election campaign funding from American Jewish lobby which he failed to declare. Olmert is serving a six-year jail term, starting from 28 April, 2014, apart from a two-year suspended sentence and fine of $400,000.
Compare this to abuses of power by our ruling elite and paid servants of the state. Controversial land developers (accused by none other than a judicial commission formed by SC of Pakistan for alleged tax evasion amounting to Rs120 billion) have been gifting palatial houses to politicians and paid public office holders, and undertaking real estate projects with state institutions. Based on insider information, politicians involved in buying land from poor land owners in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad etc, have gone from rags to riches, yet this does not constitute “conflict of interest” nor a financial irregularity. Railway land has been given for commercial purposes in Lahore and the rest of the country below prevailing market value, yet nobody gets caught. Pakistan Railways continues to buy engines from same Chinese manufacturer of ill-repute, while the cost of New Islamabad Airport has tripled because of contractor being in nexus with every government, resulting in massive pilferage.
MALIK TARIQ ALI