The superb military display in Islamabad on March 23 after a seven year hiatus aroused the patriotic fervour of the nation. It also raised a number of questions. Clouding the continuing sacrifice rendered by those marching in columns and flying overhead, was the virtual immunity under the Constitution of the rulers to enrich themselves. Legal nuances aside, the farcical indirect elections of the Senate, the cache of murderers caught in Karachi, the televised confession of Saulat Mirza, the reported admissions of Uzair Baloch to the UAE police and the cover up of the Model Town massacre reflect the deliberate criminality inherent in our present structure of governance. These incidents show how the farce masquerading as democracy functions in Pakistan.
Weakening the capacity of the militants to wage war against the state in the mountains of Swat and FATA, the armed forces are supporting the law enforcement agencies (LEAs) targeting terrorists (and their infrastructure), who are deeply embedded in the vast urban hinterlands of Pakistan. Deng Xiaping famously said that it does not matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it eats mice. Given the nexus between corruption, organised crime and terrorism, those committing murder and facilitating terrorism are all equally culpable, regardless of whether they belong to religious factions, political parties or criminal gangs. Those providing political and legal support and media space to criminals are also guilty.
The incident of the model Ayyan shows how money laundering from Pakistan is blatantly facilitated. Money was laundered in suitcases and duffle bags in official aircraft when the PPP was in power. How did they avoid customs checks and special units for money laundering in countries like the UAE and UK, who are very strict in implementing their money laundering laws? How were our corrupt politicians allowed to purchase prime real estate using illegal funds in these countries? Once out of power, carriers like Ayyan were used by PPP. Khalid Malik is not just anybody, he is Rehman Maliks brother. Of the $ 500,000 Ayyan was carrying, rumour has it that $ 150,000 was earmarked for the UAE lawyer who is filibustering Uzair Balochs extradition to Pakistan. Ayyan has reportedly confessed to acting as the courier for almost $ 40 million in the last two years. Rumour has it that the Sindh government is requesting that Ayyan be shifted to Karachi Jail. If suo moto action could be taken for Atiqa Odhos two measly bottles of alcohol, why is everyone and his uncle deaf, dumb and blind to all these recent revelations?
With witnesses blatantly criminally intimidated, direct evidence to convict anyone for corruption is seldom available in court, a task that is already difficult given our ambiguous and ineffective laws regarding evidence. Al Capone publicly committed dozens of murders and laughed at witnesses who refused to testify in court because he scared them out of their wits with the threat of murder. He was finally incarcerated for tax evasion. Those who cannot provide tangible proof of paying their taxes should be held accountable under the existing laws for their accumulated assets and luxurious lives. What happened to the federal tax ombudsmans recommendations in the Malik Riaz and Arsalan Iftikhar cases?
Under the present leadership, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) does seem committed, but it is questionable whether persecuting culprits is their priority. To regain trust and credibility, NAB must target those within their own ranks, both currently and in the past, who prevented its mandate from taking its course. Despite having an honest reputation himself, Lieutenant General Muhammad Amjad collected quite a selection of crooks in his team, who made money from the plea bargain ploy. Living way beyond their known sources of income, at least two of the chairmen who succeeded Amjad were corrupt. Can they be investigated for not paying taxes on their illegally acquired wealth? The military is held in great esteem in Pakistan and the superior judiciary has also gained some trust. Both institutions must work harder to shore up their credibility. Principles and standards for honesty and integrity must apply impartially because it is patently unfair to hold some accountable and not others. When the influence of past associations is combined with illegally acquired wealth, the power of corrupt officials to subvert the course of justice multiplies.
Why was Genera Kayani in a hurry to post a new Corps Commander in Karachi during his last few days as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in November 2013? During the last 11 months that this military favourite served in uniform, he went berserk, converting a parking lot into a lucrative plot of land in the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) for himself amongst other criminal activities. Kayani himself can hardly explain his connections to Malik Riaz, never mind the shenanigans of his two brothers. If he feels aggrieved by my allegations, he should have the courage to sue me! One of Musharrafs Corps Commanders was responsible for Meinhardts attempts to carry out the Creek City Project (referenced in my article “Creek City, Bleak City” of Aug 2, 2003). Having failed to fulfil their commitment, has Meinhardt settled their monetary obligations to DHA more than a decade later? This official influenced the winding up of the investigation of the well-known scam of forging documents in connivance with DHA officials to get possession of numerous unclaimed DHA plots. It has also been documented that he failed to prevent the sacking of the six or seven DHA officers involved in the scam. Is it a coincidence that these same scam artists bought this three star officers DHA plot at a rate far beyond the market price? The present military hierarchy has an excellent reputation, both professionally and personally, owing not only to the uniform but in their commitment to hold the handful of crooks who besmirched and disrespected these uniforms accountable.
General Raheel Sharif did what needed to be done for General Pervez Musharraf. It is unthinkable for a former COAS to be degraded in a civilian court in the manner that the Sharif government was attempting. Whatever questions Musharraf has to answer must be asked in a military court. Regardless, Raheel Sharifs soft corner for Musharraf because of the latters association with his late brother is understandable. This emotion cannot be misconstrued as the armys sympathy to Musharrafs political ambitions and redemption. Despite all his “Pakistan First” talk, Musharraf saddled Pakistan with the black National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) for his own survival. NRO was directly responsible for the perpetual criminality that the country has been consumed by, under the camouflage of the Constitution. We are at a dangerous crossroads; lip service to the rule of law and accountability thereof erodes the credibility of governance that we desperately need.