Panama denouement soon


A cruel, cruel joke if there ever was one.


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called the JIT probe into his alleged money laundering trail a joke when he was visiting London for his Eid celebrations under the shadow of the historic Church of Westminster. This remark set the main stream of hostile propaganda launched against the JIT and the Supreme Court by his party stalwarts. It is a manifestation of a state of mind that spells hopelessness, desperation and defeatism.


The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) appointed by the Supreme Court has not much time left to submit its findings in the rarest case in Pakistan’s political history when a sitting prime minister has been subjected to criminal interrogation for alleged money laundering. Now in a crucial stage, the ‘joke’ seems to have become a serious threat tightening its dragnet around the neck of the first family. And according to latest survey of the Gallup Survey, 51 percent of the people questioned, the general consensus is that the Supreme Court’s decision would be against the Prime Minister.


Desperation in the PML-N camp was overly evident. It reached a crescendo with the summoning of the Ishaq Dar, Finance Minister who is also confidante of the PM and closely related to him. After his JIT — Dar sahib looked like a cat on a hot tin roof. And the way he was sweating in public looked as if he had been put under several hundred watts of power light by his interrogators.


One year old Panama drama is in final stage. When one sees volley after volley being fired by the media musketeers of the Prime Minister house- it is an indication of a battle lost. It is to be seen how much damage the royal fusiliers would have done to the JIT and the Supreme Court by their bombardment of third rate allegations of partisanship and bias. Dar Sahib did not offer any answers to the allegations of tempering of various records by his henchmen holding key positions in every place of importance to subvert the course of justice.


The Panama leaks lifted the lid on much touted financial piety of many world leaders to public wrath. For some it proved to be a swan song. When Pakistan figured in it, it appeared more of a game changer as it named Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family as money launderers. And when the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by the second most senior judge Mr Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa started the proceedings — each day of hearing seemed to be taking the Prime Minister and his family nearer to a most ignoble denouement. And when one saw a profusely sweating finance minister summoned by the JIT following its interrogation of him, one just looked up to the sky to see the Divine Judge smiling. So far eight members of the first family have been grilled like common thieves.


In Dar sahib’s writhing pain and loud protestations one could see how badly hurt one feels when one’s female members are summoned for interrogation to pin charges of money laundering on the patriarch of the family. More painful was reminder of Deputy Speaker of the Sindh Assembly Sheila Raza, who in a TV programme genuinely burst out at the howling PML-N’s media mongers of the torture Pakistan’s only leader of international stature, twice elected prime minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was subjected to by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s hatchet man, probably descendent of Gestapo’s worst executioner — Senator Saifur Rehman. His blue-eyed super-cop Rana Maqbool almost killed Asif Ali Zardari in CIA custody. Sheila Raza too suffered months of torture during his prime ministership. I too was a victim of his atrocities when his loyal prosecutors tried their dirty best to coax me to commit perjury against Mohtarma and Asif Zardari. It was Allah’s mercy that they could not break me but they rendered my health adversely affected for all times.


Sources that dealt with Dar Sahib after October 1999 reveal that he was treated with kid gloves under General Pervez Musharraf when he volunteered to offer a 45-page long confessional statement accepting all his wheeling-dealings for his Prime Minister as his financial and family confidante including his painstaking efforts for money laundering for him. Not only that, by virtue of his singing against Mian sahib, Dar sahib was looking forward to being appointed as Finance Minister by GPM.


One would not like to make fun of anyone’s misery but one cannot remain silent to the quixotic claims by the PML-N ministers and propaganda musketeers that no family ever was subjected to so much torture as that of Mian sahib’s. Even Dar sahib was seen shouting at the top of his voice condemning summoning of Maryam Nawaz by the JIT.


Every one of the howling PML-N crowd has forgotten the torture Benazir Bhutto, Asif Zardari, PPP leaders and workers were subjected to during two previous tenures of Mian Sahib by his Tara Masih Senator Saifur Rehman as his Accountability chief. It is a gory history and even to recall it make one shudder.

Even in his current tenure PPP remains a target. Dr Asim Husain’s case is an example. He was piled up with plethora of charges just to get him to do malign AAZ. Mian sahib perhaps does not know Dr Asim’s background. He is grandson of Dr Sir Zia Uddin who converted Aligarh Muslim University into a cradle for Pakistan movement under the Quaid. His  name remains stuck in ECL and is not allowed to leave for medical treatment, whereas the General who committed an act of treason, was being prosecuted for alleged murder of Benazir Bhutto and Sardar Akbar Bugti was allowed to go for ‘treatment of his back’ to get him dancing fit in no time.


President Mamnoon had described Panama leaks as “national disaster” and observed that nations involved in corruption do not progress — “The Panama Gate is a natural trap. The bigger the thief is, the more luxuriant his life is. The corruption has adversely affected every institution of the country and now there is a need to launch collective efforts to eliminate this menace.” Indeed, Panama leak inquiry seems to be well poised to knock down the pillars of corruption in the country.