Sunday, June 22, 2008

Zardari, the Nelson Mandela of Pakistan?

"Time will prove he is the Nelson Mandela of Pakistan". This statement was attributed to late Benazir Bhutto by a former senator and Bhutto family friend Dr. Abdullah Riar, as reported in the New York Times, and the "he" here refers to Asif Ali Zardari.

The only thing that allows for any comparison of Zardari with Mandela is their time in jail and their link to the word "Reconciliation". That's where the comparison begins and ends. When Mandela used the word "Reconciliation" he combined it with "Truth" as in "Truth and Reconciliation Commission". "Reconciliation" for Mandela did not mean freedom from prosecution for any personal corruption or misconduct. He was never under any suspicion. It meant a chance for all South Africans for being truthful and acknowledging their crimes and misdeeds as part of the national healing process to ensure a healthy future for the nation.

What Pakistan needs more than anything else is a national healing process. But healing can not even begin without acknowledgment of misdeeds and true contrition by all. Once there is a sincere acknowledgment by all the actors (Musharraf, Sharif, Zardari, the military, the judiciary etc) on public stage carried live by the media, then the process of repentance and forgiveness can move forward. We need a high-powered "Pakistan Truth and Reconciliation Commission" comprising of people beyond reproach, people like Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. I am sure we can find a few people who fit this description in a nation of 160 million people.

As part of this process, Pervez Musharraf must respond to the charges of undermining Pakistan's constitution and the laws, human rights abuses, and acting arbitrarily against people who opposed him.

Nawaz Sharif must address the allegations of his contempt for the judiciary when he was in office, and the charges that he amassed wealth and left the country bankrupt in 1999. He must address specific allegations of where, how he got the money to pay off the $450m loan as ordered by a British court in 1998, in connection with Hudaibia Paper Mills Ltd.

Asif Ali Zardari needs to honestly deal with allegations of corruption and abuse of power rather than rely on Musharraf's NRO. If he is innocent, he should seek to clear his name. If he is guilty, he should acknowledge his guilt and seek forgiveness of the people as part of the process.

Other politicians, party leaders, military officers, judges and bureaucrats should follow Musharraf, Sharif and Zardari and admit to any wrongdoing on their part, clear the air and ask for forgiveness to start with a clean slate.

The examples set by major leaders will inspire others in and out of government to start believing in personal responsibility and accountability for their actions.

The continuing blame game in Pakistan means every one wants others to be held accountable without acknowledging their own misdeeds. No one wants to look at himself or herself honestly in the mirror. Corruption and power abuse allegations are used as a means to achieve and maintain political power. There is a great deal of hypocrisy in how Pakistani politicians, military, judiciary and bureaucracy go about dealing with the concept of accountability so essential for a functioning democracy. This must change for the sake of the future of Pakistan.

I am not naive, but I am hopeful that this will eventually happen. Asif Zardari has shown lately that he is quite capable of working across party lines with his friends and foes alike. He has set aside his urge for personal revenge against those who persecuted him in the 1990s. Maybe, just maybe, Asif Zardari would want to prove his late wife's appraisal of him was accurate by using his influence as the PPP leader and follow Mandela's example and begin the healing process in Pakistan. I just hope that it happens before it's too late.


Anonymous said...

Are you leaving in a fantasy land?

Riaz Haq said...

Dear Anonymous,
Until it happened in South Africa, nobody believed it possible. But it did happen and helped the country heal the wounds left by Apartheid.
South African has succeeded in changing to a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, democratic society after the TRC there. If there is a Nelson Mandela
in Pakistan, then it will happen there as well.

Mustafa said...

Sir I would agree with Anonymous here.

As the saying goes - A leopard cannot change its spots similarly Zardari can never walk in the paths of redemptions.

As yo say notbody believed it untill it happened in Africa - well sir I would like to say that people in Africa is a totally different breed of people. Amidst all their confrontational approach they had a deeper sincerity for the homeland eventhough it was not channeled in the right direction and Mr Mandella played a part in chaneling that enery. Where as we as a nation are all dead - we quarell for a selfish pitty gains. We have become worse then a kettle of vultures.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a report in Dawn today about how the Sharif brothers, waiting the wing to grab power, engaged in "money laundering", according to Ishaq Dar, a close associate and PML leader:

NAB Court documents have recently emerged which show that Senator Dar made some interesting revelations in an accountability court in April 2000.

The court was hearing the famous Hudaibiya Paper Mills case against the Sharif brothers.

The 43-page confessional statement of Senator Ishaq Dar was recorded on April 25th 2000 before the District Magistrate Lahore. Dar was produced before the court by the then Assistant Director Basharrat M Shahzad, of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

Dar, in his statement had admitted that he had been handling the money matters of the Sharif family and he also alleged that Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shahbaz Sharif were involved in money laundering worth at least $14.886 million.

The statement by Senator Ishaq Dar is irrevocable as it was recorded under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

Senator Ishaq Dar is a high-profile PML-N leader and has always been considered close to the Sharif brothers as his son, Ali Dar, is married to Nawaz Sharif’s daughter, Asma.

But in April 2000 the top PML-N leadership had hit a rough patch by then and some of their loyal lieutenants were busy developing a new political system for General (retired) Pervez Musharraf after his October 1999 military coup.

In this context, Ishaq Dar accused Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif of money laundering in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case.

Interestingly, Ishaq Dar also implicated himself by confessing in the court that he – along with his friends Kamal Qureshi and Naeem Mehmood – had opened fake foreign currency accounts in different international banks.

He said that the entire amount in these banks finally landed in the accounts of Hudaibiya Paper Mills Limited.

Senator Ishaq Dar was the main witness against Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif in the case.

The Hudaibiya Paper Mills case is still pending in the National Accountability Bureau.

Since the statement made by Dar was recorded under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the statement has become a permanent part of the case against the top PML-N leaders.

If the case is opened again, the Sharif brothers may discover that the tightening noose around them was originally prepared by one of their own family members and trusted lieutenant Senator Ishaq Dar.—DawnNews

Riaz Haq said...

President Asif Zardari's total assets are estimated at $1.5 billion, according to a NAB filing with Pakistan Supreme Court, reports the News:

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday submitted in the Supreme Court the list of the NRO beneficiaries, which showed President Asif Ali Zardari possessing assets worth $1.5 billion (Rs 120 billion) abroad and worth Rs 24.14 billion in the country.

Deputy Prosecutor General Abdul Baseer Qureshi presented the list of 248 NRO beneficiaries before the full court, hearing the petitions challenging the infamous ordinance, promulgated in 2007 giving legal cover to the corruption of politicians and bureaucrats

A 17-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had directed the NAB the other day to submit authentic details of the NRO beneficiaries. According to the list, there are at least seven abolished references against President Zardari. The list indicates that the assets of President Asif Ali Zardari in foreign countries stand at $1.5 billion, including houses and bank accounts in Spain, France, the US and Britain while his assets in the country stand at Rs 24.14 billion.

In the list, President Zardari’s assets worth Rs 22 billion were mentioned as beyond means and the cases in this regard were withdrawn by the Accountability Court on March 5, 2008, under the controversial NRO.

Similarly, cases of corruption of Rs 268.3 million regarding the purchase of Ursus Tractors (Awami Scheme) and illegal construction of the polo ground at the PM House at the cost of Rs 52.297 million were terminated under the NRO in March 2008.Likewise, the list also includes allegedly causing loss of Rs 1.822 billion to the national exchequer by President Zardari by granting licence to the ARY Gold. The said case was also terminated under the NRO ordinance.

The NAB deputy prosecutor general told the court that information regarding the misuse of authority in affairs of SGS PSI Company by Asif Ali Zardari as well as illegal award of contract to Cotecna for pre-shipment was being collected.

The NAB list included names of Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s Ambassador to United States Hussain Haqqani, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, former NWFP chief minister Aftab Sherpao Khan, ex MNAs Nawab Yousaf Talpur, Anwar Saifullah Khan, Sardar Mansoor Leghari, Haji Nawaz Khokhar, Pir Mukarramul Haq, Brig (retd) Imtiaz, Usman Farooqi, Salman Farooqi, former president Habib Bank Younus Dalmia, Mirbaz Khetran and many others.

He submitted that the National Assembly’s standing committee approved the NRO, however, the concerned minister took it back from the assembly. During the proceedings, advocates general of the Punjab, the NWFP and Balochistan informed the court that under Section 2-A of NRO, no review boards were constituted in their respective provinces to decide the murder cases.

Advocate General Sindh Yousaf Leghari, however, informed the court that 8,000 cases were dropped under the NRO in Sindh, of which 3,000 were murder cases. He sought time to provide details of the cases decided under Section 2-A of the NRO in Sindh. The court directed the AG Sindh to submit report before the court today (Wednesday).

Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, counsel for Dr Mubashar Hassan, submitted the ordinance as whole was void because it was a fraud ordinance as it violated many substantial provisions of the Constitution.

He submitted that reconciliation meant reconciliation between husband and wife, between parents but this National Reconciliation Ordinance had trampled the rights of the entire nation. Pirzada contended that all stakeholders were not taken into confidence before its promulgation. “The nation is threatened with fragmentation,” Pirzada maintained.

Riaz Haq said...

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has unanimously declared NRO null and void ab initio, according to Dawn News:

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has declared the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) null and void in a short order.

In a landmark decision, the apex court unanimously decided that the ordinance was unconstitutional.

All old cases that had been dismissed under the NRO stand revived and can now be reopened as per the court orders.

The court said that all orders that were passed and all acquittals under the NRO were illegal and never existed.

The apex court in its order also said that all convictions that were held prior to the enactment of the NRO stand revived as well.

Now the Zar dari camp is expected to argue that, under the constitution of Pakistan, President Zardari is immune from prosecution as long as he is in office.

Related Links:

Swi ss Corruption Probe Against Zardari

NRO, Democracy and Corruption in South Asia

Pakistan's Intelligence Failure Amidst Daily Carnage

Zahid Khan said...

Worst times have arrived therefore Mr. 10% (ten percent) have become leaders of our beloved country. I will not go into the details how corrupt our leaders are. Along with corruption they don't care if poor people live or die. Zardari and his government have sold our country for few dollars and now our national interests are also on sale by him. When I think about the situation in Pakistan my heart really goes, looking at the necessity which Pakistani nation does not have, such as Sugar, Wheat flour, Electricity, Gas, jobs, clean drinking water and there is huge list of other necessities which Pakistani nation does not enjoy. However leaders of Pakistan have turned a blind eye to the problems of poor people. I always wonder that why Pakistan does not utilizes 18 billion people and produce various items which can later be sold in international market such as Airplanes, Fast Trains, Weapon technology and various other items. Leaders of Pakistan have pledged to neglect this nation and they are extremely busy filling their own pockets with stolen poor people's money. I pray to God that the injustice vanishes soon and we see a real and authentic leader who can lead us through prosperity and happiness. I believe the leaders of Pakistan have failed to look after their country and they have failed to show care. We as a nation should unite together and raise against the ignorance we face today. Thank you

Anonymous said...

We can all take the 'principled' stand and nail Musharraf or zardari, but tell me something why be selective?

We have a case pending since 1995 called the Asghar Khan case, where the petitioner has requested courts to investigate ISI creation of IJI and illegal payments to politicians to subvert a sitting civilian government. Is that not treason? And if that is treason then ALL of those politcians who participated should be tried for tyreason, dont you agree? List starts with Nawaz Sharif, same guy who had bank loans written off by the billions, called legalized organized state sponsored corruption.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from Raymond Baker's book "Capitalism's Achilles Heel" regarding Pakistan's venal politicians:

"While Benazir Bhutto hated the generals for executing her father, Nawaz Sharif early on figured out that they held the real power in Pakistan. His father had established a foundry in 1939 and, together with six brothers, had struggled for years only to see their business nationalized by Ali Bhutto’s regime in 1972. This sealed decades of enmity between the Bhuttos and the Sharifs. Following the military coup and General Zia’s assumption of power, the business—Ittefaq—was returned to family hands in 1980. Nawaz Sharif became a director and cultivated relations with senior military officers. This led to his appointment as finance minister of Punjab and then election as chief minister of this most populous province in 1985. During the 1980s and early 1990s, given Sharif ’s political control of Punjab and eventual prime ministership of the country, Ittefaq Industries grew from its original single foundry into 30 businesses producing steel, sugar, paper, and textiles, with combined revenues of $400 million, making it one of the biggest private conglomerates in the nation. As in many other countries, when you control the political realm, you can get anything you want in the economic realm."
Like Bhutto, offshore companies have been linked to Sharif, three in the British Virgin Islands by the names of Nescoll, Nielson, and Shamrock and another in the Channel Islands known as Chandron Jersey Pvt. Ltd. Some of these entities allegedly were used to facilitate purchase of four rather grand flats on Park Lane in London, at various times occupied by Sharif family members. Reportedly, payment transfers were made to Banque Paribas en Suisse, which then instructed Sharif ’s offshore companies Nescoll and Nielson to purchase the four luxury suites.
Upon taking office in 1988, Bhutto reportedly appointed 26,000 party hacks to state jobs, including positions in state-owned banks. An orgy of lending without proper collateral followed. Allegedly, Bhutto and Zardari “gave instructions for billions of rupees of unsecured government loans to be given to 50 large projects. The loans were sanctioned in the names of ‘front men’ but went to the ‘Bhutto-Zardari combine.’ ” Zardari suggested that such loans are “normal in the Third World to encourage industrialisation.” He used 421 million rupees (about £10 million) to acquire a major interest in three new sugar mills, all done through nominees acting on his behalf. In another deal he allegedly received a 40 million rupee kickback on a contract involving the Pakistan Steel Mill, handled by two of his cronies. Along the way Zardari acquired a succession of nicknames: Mr. 5 Percent, Mr. 10 Percent, Mr. 20 Percent, Mr. 30 Percent, and finally, in Bhutto’s second term when he was appointed “minister of investments,” Mr. 100 Percent.

Riaz Haq said...

‪#‎Madiba‬ RIP. He sure did the best he could to set a good example for successors to continue and complete his mission of racial, social and economic justice which still eludes vast majority of South Africans.

Riaz Haq said...

#Mandela is popular in the West bcse he renounced "terrorism", though he remained on US terror watch list until 2008. …

Riaz Haq said...

Why Nelson Mandela was on a terrorism watch list in 2008
By Caitlin Dewey December 7, 2013

Nelson Mandela is being remembered across the world (and political spectrum) for his heroic, life-long battle against apartheid and injustice in South Africa. But with all the accolades being thrown around, it’s easy to forget that the U.S., in particular, hasn’t always had such a friendly relationship with Mandela -- and that in fact, as late as 2008, the Nobel Prize winner and former president was still on the U.S. terrorism watch list.
The sticking point was, in Mandela’s case, ideological. In the mid-'80s, as activists in South Africa and around the world began to agitate in earnest for Mandela’s release, the Reagan administration still saw communism as one of its primary enemies -- and defeating communism as one of its foremost foreign policy goals. That complicated the administration’s take on South Africa.

The apartheid regime, it turns out, had supported the U.S. during the Cold War and had worked closely with both the Reagan and Nixon administrations to limit Soviet influence in the region, as Sam Kleiner chronicled in Foreign Policy last July.

Meanwhile, the African National Congress, which Mandela chaired, was peppered with members of the South African Communist Party. Even worse in the eyes of the Reagan Administration was the ANC’s apparent friendliness toward Moscow: The ANC’s secretary general, Alfred Nzo, bore greetings to the Soviet communist party congress in 1986. That was enough to inspire Reagan to accuse the ANC of encouraging communism in a 1986 policy speech, and to rule that South Africa had no obligation to negotiate with a group bent on “creating a communist state.”