Friday, July 6, 2018

A Perspective on Deposed Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Conviction

Guest Post by Rashid Ahmad.

My thoughts on Nawaz Sharif (NS) verdict:

1. This decision, like all major decisions that involve national level politicians, will remain controversial as the people will look at this decision from their own perspectives. To Anti-NS folks he was guilty before the trial began, and it does not matter on which charge he is convicted, as long as he is knocked out. For those who support Nawaz Sharif, he would never be guilty even if he is caught red handed.

2. The conviction was a foregone conclusion. It may be selective justice but the real reason was the accountability court, working under direct supervision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which, to many people, is not a neutral arbiter any more, but the “REAL PROSECUTOR”.  It is selective application of the law.

3. Although not comparing, this kind of motivated convictions are not uncommon. Pakistan’s illustrious judiciary has to its “credit” many infamous decisions: Doctrine of necessity by Justice Munir, and all those decisions that approved violations of the constitution by “The Aliens”. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's wrongful conviction, later admitted by Justice Nasim Hasan Shah. Justice Qayyum’s decision to convict Benazir Bhutto (BB) for corruption in 1998, based on illegal collusion among politicians, judges, and bureaucrats. This collusion was recorded by phone taps ordered by NS, but a bureaucrat provided a copy of it to BB and to British media. (Ironically in a different case earlier, Pres. Farooq Leghari had claimed that BB had tapped the phones of judges.) More recently, under Musharraf regime, the court had convicted NS and sentenced him for several years of imprisonment! Thus, if people take the decisions of the judiciary with a pinch of salt, they have a reason to do so.

4. During General Pervez Musharraf's regime, Nawab Akbar Bugti was once told by a reporter, in an interview, that govt. is prosecuting you because police investigations have established that you killed such and such persons. His response was telling, “If that police officer was under my control and command, he would sing a different song. The same police officer would state that Musharraf killed that person”! That is why the common phrase in Punjab is: “Wakeel na karo, Judge hi kar lo” (Don’t retain a lawyer, retain the judge”).  Zero faith in politicians, police, institutions and the courts.

5. Surprisingly the judge has acquitted NS from corruption while-in-office charge. He convicted him on a different charge.

6. The key question here was: Who has the burden of proof? NS lawyer has argued that NAB (National Accountability Bureau) has not met the 4 requirements set in law to shift the burden of proof to NS. The judge concluded NAB has met them, hence it is NS who has to provide evidence (how his young children acquired the Avenfield properties) to establish his innocence.

7. And finally, this judge needs to take supplemental English to write better opinions/decisions. The quality of his writing is awful. The decision is full of typos, grammatical, spelling mistakes, and incorrect names etc. which makes it hard to read. There is even a sentence, which, if taken literally, is contradictory to his decision. I wonder if this is common in his writings or did he not have time to proof read his decision, or was it written by his staff on which he signed off.

Author Rashid Ahmad is a Pakistani-American civil engineer with a Master's degree from UC Davis. He was recently recognized for his community service by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg  with a key to the city. Ahmad came to the United States in 1970 and has since been living in Sacramento-Davis area in California. 

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

British Government Report Says Pakistan Among Top 3 Sources of Money Laundering

Did Musharraf Steal Pakistani People's Money?

Pakistan Economy Hobbled By Underinvestment

Raymond Baker on Corruption in Pakistan

Striking Similarity Between Sharif and Trump Narratives

Culture of Corruption in Pakistan

US Investigating Microsoft Bribery in Pakistan

Zardari's Corruption Probe in Switzerland

Politics of Patronage in Pakistan

Why is PIA Losing Money Amid Pakistan Aviation Boom?


Najam said...

Good Analysis overall.Sidelining popular leadership by dubious court decisions and enforcing artificial leaders by Agricultural department and likes might have serious repercussions,not good for the country.

Riaz Haq said...

Nawaz Sharif convicted under 9 (a) (v)

Public office holder with assets beyond means

Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Captain (R) Muhammad Safdar have been awarded sentences under Section 9(a)(v) of NAO that reads “9 (a) A holder of a public office, or any other person, is said to commit or to have committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices-(v) if he or any of his dependents or benamidar owns, possesses, or has 4[acquired] right or title in any [“assets or holds irrevocable power of attorney in respect of any assets] or pecuniary resources disproportionate to his known sources of income, which he cannot 1[reasonably] account for 2[or maintains a standard of living beyond that which is commensurate with his sources of income]; or”.

The court order said since all the four ingredients of 9(a)(v) were established; therefore, heavy burden was shifted to the accused.

Interestingly, the court has acquitted Nawaz of the charges under Section 9(a) (iv) saying that the prosecution could not produce bright evidence in this regard.

The Section 9(a) (iv) reads “9 (a) A holder of a public office, or any other person, is said to commit or to have committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices (iv) if he by corrupt, dishonest, or illegal means, obtains or seeks to obtain for himself, or for his spouse or dependents or any other person, any property, valuable thing, or pecuniary advantage; or”

About Maryam Nawaz, the court held that the trust deeds produced by her were also found bogus.

“The accused Maryam Nawaz was instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father accused Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. This accused, Maryam Nawaz, aided, assisted, abetted, attempted and acted in conspiracy with her father accused Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif who was holder of public office. Therefore, the prosecution has succeeded to establish her guilt within the meaning of Section 9(a)(v)(xii) NAO.1999 read with serial No.2 of the schedule and punishable u/s 10 and schedule attach therewith. In view of the role of this accused Mst. Maryam Nawaz, she is convicted and sentenced to Rigorous Imprisonment for seven years with fine of two million pounds under Section u/s 9(a)(v) (xii) NAO.1999/ read with Section 10 of NAO 1999 and simple imprisonment for one year under Serial No.2 of the schedule. Both the sentences shall run concurrently”.

The court held that there was no dispute about the opinion of Robert Radley that the Calibri font was not commercially available before January 31, 2007. It said the trust deeds were produced by Maryam Nawaz to mislead the court and these were not prepared on the date noted on these.

It said before 2006, possession of an offshore company was possible through bearer shares certificates. After the law was changed in 2006, the accused required to register these shares certificates and there the crime was detected.

Samlee said...

It Is Very Much Obvious That Mr Rashid Is A PML N Supporter Since He Gives Only One Side Of The Story.The Very Premise Of His Posts Are Ludicrous To Say The Least Since The Decisions Of Z.A Bhutto Was Done Under A Military Dictator.Also The Decision of Justice Munir Was Also DoneUnder General Ayub Khan.Can Mr Rashid Enlighten Us As To Who Is The Military Dictator Running The Country Right Now??????

Secondly The Decision Of Malik Qayum Was Against Benazir Was Very Much Under The Supervision Of Nawaz Sharif.The Leaked Audio Call Recording of Justice Qayyum and Shabaz Sharif And That Of Justice Qayum And Then Then NAB Head Saif ur Rehman Is Avilable Online But Mr Rashid Chooses To Leave This Point Out Very Conveniently.

This Post Is The Height Of Intellectual Dishonesty As It Only Tells Half Truths And One Side Of The Story.

I Appeal To Mr Haq To Not Allow Such Posts That Are Beneath The Quality Of His Blog

Rashid A. said...

Tribune has similar observations about court judgement as I did.

The judge needs to take supplemental English!

Ahmad F. said...

What he really needs is to go back to Law school. That will fix his English problems as well.

More seriously, the judgment was written by several people and there were some last minute changes.

You know who is calling the shots.

Riaz Haq said...

Ahmad: "What he really needs is to go back to Law school. That will fix his English problems as well. "

Most legal commentators I have heard on TV, including a former AG and several senior attorneys, say the NAB court verdict is sound and rooted in law. It cites National Accountability Ordinance sec 9(a) v on assets beyond income as the basis for conviction.

This particular section of the law places the onus on the accused to show that the assets were acquired by legitimate income and means

There are similar laws in the West for money laundering cases in which the burden of proof is placed on the accused, not the prosecution

Such laws have been necessitated by the money launderers use of a burgeoning industry of clever accountants and lawyers who help launder money and cover the tracks

Sikandar said...

Ahmad says "You know who is calling the shots".

No, I do not know. Please share with us if you know. Hopefully you will also present with some evidence, however, weak it may be.

Riaz Haq said...

Sikandar: "No, I do not know. Please share with us if you know. Hopefully you will also present with some evidence, however, weak it may be."

Here's what Nawaz Sharif and his supporters want you believe:

We know how the conspiracy was hatched and unfolded. Here's how:

1. Pakistan Army and ISI colluded with the international consortium of investigative journalists (ICIJ) to hack and leak Panama Papers from Mossack Fonseca whose lawyers and accountants specialize in hiding ill-gotten wealth in offshore havens.

2. The Army and ISI made sure that Nawaz Sharif's family's undeclared assets are part of the leaks.

3. Pakistan Army chief and ISI ordered NAB to investigate Panama leaks and Nawaz Sharif family's assets.

4. Pakistan Army Chief and ISI chief called a meeting of the top Supreme Court judges to hear the case, remove Nawaz Sharif and transfer trial to a NAB court.

5. Pakistan Army Chief and ISI ordered NAB court to render a guilty verdict.

Nawaz Sharif and his supporters know it's true. They don't need any evidence for it.

They believe it's for the Army Chief, the ISI chief and the judges to prove their innocence :-)

Riaz Haq said...

Building a new Pakistan

by Dr. Atta ur Rahman

The single biggest opportunity to develop Pakistan lies in its 100 million people who are below the age of 20. We need to focus on their development to build a new Pakistan.

The country has abundant natural resources, the fifth largest river system in the world, which could be a huge source of cheap, and clean hydel power. Similarly, we have ample reserves of coal, as well as areas in Sindh and Balochistan that are suitable for wind energy projects. Given an honest and sensible government, we could have been producing energy at an average price of less than Rs3 per kilowatt hour.

However, the country has been eaten away by corrupt leaders who have built palaces abroad and accumulated mountains of wealth in the UK, UAE, Switzerland and many other countries, while the industry in the country lies devastated – with exports stagnating at about $21 billion annually. If we can produce energy at such low rates (as is already being done in the UAE through solar farms) we can hugely boost our industrial production, resulting in the expansion of the industry and provision of jobs to our qualified youth.

The second area that we can tap into is the IT sector. There is a worldwide demand for software for a variety of applications, particularly due to the fast emergence of machine intelligence. These applications are finding use in a number of businesses. We need to tap into this fast-growing source of wealth by setting up a network of high quality training centres in the country for IT graduates so that their skills can be honed to meet the demands of businesses. The global IT market has risen to about $1,400 billion, with a significant increase in the last couple of years, particularly in the software development sector.

The advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has opened up a number of exciting opportunities for Pakistan’s youth, provided that they are properly trained. The rise of artificial intelligence and its integration into almost every sphere of human activity has created unprecedented opportunities for our youth. New and more powerful computers are being developed that will be able to take over many conventional jobs and lead to an expansion in some fields. Most industrial assembly plants will no longer require humans as their functions will be taken over by intelligent bots. This has opened up fantastic opportunities for IT professionals capable of developing powerful algorithms to tackle specific industrial and service requirements.

Free or low-cost legal and medical advice is already being given by IBM’s computer, aptly named Watson. Before long, lawyers, judges, doctors, nurses, restaurant waiters, film actors and other professionals will be replaced by intelligent bots. Autonomous vehicles driven by computers will replace 95 percent of the vehicles on our roads, drastically reducing accidents. Most automobile manufacturers will go out of business as there will be no need to have personal vehicles with the availability of cheap and efficient autonomous taxi services.

Therefore, machine intelligence is one area to which our government must give the highest priority, by setting up centres of excellence in every university to meet the growing demands of high-quality professionals in this field. The transition from vehicles powered by combustion engines to electric vehicles is also occurring at a fast pace. This is creating research and development opportunities for our youth in the field of electric batteries.

Bioinformatics is another exciting field that our youth should be trained in as it is linked to genetic engineering. The ability to process large genomics data with powerful computing systems and to analyse it in order to arrive at meaningful conclusions will impact the health and agriculture sectors. New plant and animal species are already being developed with exciting properties, and the demand for suitably trained youth in this field will grow at an accelerated pace.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan PM #ShehbazSharif Calls Himself A "Majnoo" In Court. #FIA found 28 benami accounts, allegedly of Shehbaz family, through which an amount of Pakistan Rupee 14 billion ($75 million) was laundered from 2008 to 2018 Via 17,000 transactions. via @ndtv

Lahore: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif testified today in a special court hearing in the Pakistan Rupee 16 billion money laundering case against him that he had refused to take any salary when he was the Chief Minister of Pakistan's Punjab province, and called himself a "majnoo" for doing so.
Shehbaz Sharif and his sons - Hamza and Suleman - were charged by Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency or FIA in November 2020 under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Anti-Money Laundering Act.

Hamza Sharif is currently the Chief Minister of Pakistan's Punjab province, while Suleman Sharif is residing in the UK.

The FIA investigation has detected 28 benami accounts, allegedly of the Shehbaz family, through which an amount of Pakistan Rupee 14 billion (USD 75 million) was laundered from 2008 to 2018.

The FIA examined the money trail of 17,000 credit transactions.

The amount was kept in "hidden accounts" and given to Shehbaz Sharif in his personal capacity, according to the charges.

"I have not taken anything from the government in 12.5 years, and in this case, I am accused of laundering ₹ 2.5 million," Shehbaz Sharif said during the hearing.

"God has made me the Prime Minister of this country. I am a majnoo (fool) and I did not take my legal right, my salary and benefits," Pakistan's Dawn newspaper quoted him as saying.

He recalled that the secretary had sent a note to him for sugar exports during his tenure as Chief Minister of Punjab province, when he had set an export limit and rejected the notes, the report said.

Shehbaz Sharif first became Chief Minister of Punjab province in 1997 when his brother Nawaz Sharif was the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Following General Pervez Musharraf's coup in 1999 toppling the Nawaz Sharif government, Shehbaz Sharif along with the family spent eight years in exile in Saudi Arabia before returning to Pakistan in 2007.

He became Pakistan's Punjab Chief Minister for the second term in 2008 and he grabbed the same slot for the third time in 2013.

"My family lost PKR 2 billion because of my decision. I am telling you the reality. When my son's ethanol production plant was being set up, I still decided to impose a duty on ethanol. My family lost PKR 800 million annually because of that decision. The previous government withdrew that notification stating that it was injustice with the sugar mills," he claimed.

The Prime Minister's counsel argued that the laundering case was "politically motivated" and "based on mala fide intentions" by the erstwhile government headed by Imran Khan.

During the previous hearing on May 21, the special court had issued arrest warrants against Suleman Sharif, in the case after extending the interim bails of Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Sharif till May 28.