These politicians


Fighting one another tooth and nail



Corruption has become the lifeblood of Pakistan’s mainstream politics since 1977. The political elite seems to have totally lost the sense of morality.

It is almost taken for granted that the political class has a right to indulge in corruption. Politicians tend to follow the great conquerors who are eulogised in our text books and who looted the cities they occupied after the victory. Their troops too shared the booty from the “khawan-e-yaghma” as a matter of right.

No party in power is ever satisfied with the perks and privileges alone. Its parliamentarians must have their share of jobs to be distributed among cronies or sold off to the highest bidders. It is their right to have police officers of their choice appointed in their constituencies. Development funds must be put at their disposal. It is for them to decide who is to be the contractor so as to pocket public money in connivance with him.

The cabinet members use their official position to mint money. Nawaz Sharif owns a palatial house in London, his sons have built business empires abroad. Shehbaz Sharif has been taking one of his sons along while visiting foreign countries to introduce him to the high ups there in order to facilitate underhand dealings.

After 1999 an understanding was reached between the PPP and PML-N not to take notice of each other’s corruption. This was to be the undocumented part of the Charter of Democracy. There was also an understanding to ignore corruption on the part of the generals.

Tempers rise high when the understanding is violated by one of the players. It is considered an ‘ungentlemanly’ act. After all a politician should treat another politician as a “King treats another king”, as the vanquished Porus explained to the victorious Alexander after the battle at Jhelum. Behaving differently is considered foul play.

After 1999 an understanding was reached between the PPP and PML-N not to take notice of each other’s corruption. This was to be the undocumented part of the Charter of Democracy

When NAB launched corruption probes against some of the PPP leaders, the party was suddenly reminded of the unpaid taxes on the part of Sharif in 1974 and 1976, an issue the PPP never raised when it was in power from 2008 to 2013. Now that the deal has been violated, the PPP is suddenly reminded of the details of the paltry tax Nawaz Sharif had paid.

Zardari believes Nawaz Sharif has developed close relations with the army. The arrest of some of his henchmen in Karachi, interrogation of a number of Sindh bureaucrats and arrest of a close aide made Zardari lose his cool. This led to the 17 June outburst against the generals including the COAS .The PPP co-chairperson considered the action a violation of the ground rules. Hadn’t the PPP government desisted from taking action against any errant General? Zardari ignored even the Supreme Court directive “to take necessary action under the constitution and law” against Gen (r) Aslam Beg and Lt Gen (r) Asad Durrani for their role in distributing money among politicians.

Zardari therefore warned the establishment to refrain from character assassination of political parties. “If you do not stop, I will come out with a list of accused generals since Pakistan’s creation.” Within days he proceeded abroad on self exile.

The chiefs of the PML-N and PPP have several skeletons in the cupboards. A list of the politicians funded by the ISI before the 1990 polls is a part of the Supreme Court record now. Nawaz Sharif’s name appears prominently on it for receiving Rs3.5 million from the agency in return for help in setting up and then heading the IJI meant to defeat the PPP.

Former ISI official Khalid Khawaja, who was abducted and killed by the Punjabi Taliban, had claimed he had arranged five meetings between al Qaeda chief bin Laden and Nawaz Sharif. He had also claimed that OBL had provided him funds that he handed over to then Punjab Chief Minister Nawaz to topple Benazir Bhutto’s government.

Zardari acquired property in London, France and Dubai, all after entering politics. His lawyer pleaded for months that the so called Surrey Palace did not belong to Zardari. The PPP leader himself observed that he could not even think of buying a palatial house when millions of people in Pakistan lived in ramshackle cottages. Then suddenly he claimed the Surrey property belonged to him.

Zardari was not exonerated from the $60 million graft Swiss cases. Knowing that the PPP co-chairperson had no chance of acquittal, delays were consciously created by the Gillani government in asking the Swiss authorities to initiate the proceedings till the case became time barred. Former Law Secretary Yasmin Abbasi’s secret letter to the Swiss authorities requesting closure of the cases was another move by the Gillani administration to save Zardari from conviction. An inquiry committee held Abbasi responsible for the missing record relating to the revival of cases by Swiss authorities.

The way the KP CM has distributed tickets to his relatives and made appointments to lucrative jobs has led to charges of nepotism and graft. The PTI, it appears, is fast learning the ropes

Both Zardari and Nawaz Sharif have acquired huge assets after they entered the political arena. Politics is a full-time job for a party boss. Making money too is a whole time activity. When the assets of a political leader increase astronomically despite his busy political schedule, periods of incarceration and exile, the only explanation is that he has been indulging in corrupt practices while in power.

Imran Khan has so far been out of the loop as he was never in power. The PTI chief therefore does not abide by the rules of the game set by the PML-N and PPP. He has all along levelled charges of corruption on Zardari and Sharif. Both have generally preferred not to enter into controversy with him, directing others in their parties to respond.

The bye-elections in NA-122 have become a matter of prestige for both Sharif and Imran Khan. This has raised tensions in both camps. The diatribe by Khan targeting Nawaz Sharif while sparing Zardari was too much for the PML-N.

There was a devastating response from Pervez Rashid. Imran Khan is a liar, a traitor and a foreign agent, he said. Imran Kan tried to overthrow an elected government with money received from Indian and Israeli lobbies abroad, he added.

The way the PTI leadership went around acquiring a war chest to contest the 2013 elections has been exposed by one of the PTI dissidents. Imran Khan is now hesitant to provide information about the sources of its donation to the Election Commission. This is bound to rouse suspicion.

The way the KP CM has distributed tickets to his relatives and made appointments to lucrative jobs has led to charges of nepotism and graft. The PTI, it appears, is fast learning the ropes.

Political parties, considered one of the pillars of democracy, are once again indulging in their favourite pastime of fighting one another tooth and nail. The mutual understanding between the PML-N and PPP that saved the Nawaz government in August last year is no more there. The politicians are doing everything they can to derail the system through corruption and infighting.

There is little hope as the other part of the ruling elite, the ones in uniform, have proved themselves to be as fond of lucre as their civilian counterparts.