Today’s post is dedicated to some old corruption stories.. or grapevines and with the talks of the old wine being presented with new labels in the upcoming elections ………..here it goes.
It was known for some time that Shaukat Tareen the head of the countries largest bank Habib Bank Ltd was not liked by the Ehtesab cell chairman Saif Redcowala. He thought that Tareeen a former head of CitiBank Pakistan was linked to another crook Salman Farooqui a former top beaurocrat linked to Nawaz Sharif and the PPP. So as is usual for Saif he fired of a press report accusing Tareen of corruption and having links to other corrupt people. Tareen resigned immediately. Nawaz sharif seeing his 1.6Billion in IMF funds going up in the air immediately ordered the EHTESAB CELL TO APOLOGIZE WHICH IT DID AND THE RESIGNATION WAS withdrawn. The reasons for Nawaz Sharifs interference in ehtesab matters ;that the World Bank would not like it. Long live the World bank. At least there is someone that Nawaz is afraid of.It also proves what everybody had been thinking all along that ehtesab is only for opponents and those who do not toe the nawaz sharif line.There are also several other rumours about Tareen making the rounds. One is that wanted his share. In what nobody knows. Whether it was in the HBL take or the recent Citibank dacoity.A more reasonable explanation is that Tareen was probably asking the myriad of PMLn walas to return their loans which probably includes the sharifs and the redcos. So what probably happened. Saif probably said I apologize tareen but please stop asking us to return loans promptly which order tareen accepted with humiliation!!!!HA HA HA. Up goes in smoke any hopes of improving the banking sector
Asif Zardari who spent two years in jail during Nawaz’s previous rule and who has not been allowed out of jail during Nawaz sharifs present rule has lost his lawyer to the Sind police efficiency. The lawyer had previously been arrested for being an indian agent and released after some voices were raised against that action. Now according to press reports he has been rearrested for being involved in the murder attempt of the Sind health secretary. Given the Sind govts resolve to keep zardari in jail one can only see it as an attempt to create further problems for the former first spouse.
Added On 19-9-1997 Asif Zardaris lawyer was released by a lower court judge in Karachi yesterday but immediately rearrested by another thana(police jurisdiction area).
Added on 25-9-97 After being released by the court the lawyer was arrested in another murder case released again and arrested for the kidnapping of a PPP leader Pir mazharul haq.One wonders what the police will think of next to keep the man away from defending zardari. The Sind judiciary is obviously not doing its job or such harassment would not occur.
Added on 30.10.1997
The SHC finally released the lawyer on bail and ordered police not to arrest zardaris lawyer/manager in any case w/o informing the Sind Home secretary.
According to press reports two recent incidents show the negative repercussions of nawaz sharifs policies.
In the first incident a detenu was killed in A LAHORE police station very near the sharifs private residences. The VICTIMS family in protest tried to take the dead body to the sharifs residence which caused stone throwing and lathi charge battles with the police. The local chapters of the Jamat islami also tried to take political advantage of the incident and reports suggest that they tried to run away with the dead body. After day long battles with the police the chief minister finally gave in and bought the cooperation of the victims family.
In the second incident a PPP worker was killed by a police man outside a karachi police station. According to the press the PPP worker was going with others to arrange blood for a patient. The police arrested them and while releasing them shot dead one worker in cold blood. Apparently the policeman involved has been arrested.
Both incidents suggest that nawaz sharifs recent legislation purportedly to control terrorism is being used by police in a negative manner. The sharifs both of whom commonly attack the police need to work with the police to improve their performance and need to explain to them what is expected of them. Crudeness needs to be refined and that can only be done thru better training and the active involvement of the govt and senior police officers. It is not only neccesary to register all complaints properly but it is also necessary that police procedures in all deptts ie dealing with the public, registering complaints, investigations,HANDLING RIOTS,recconaisance, arrests and most of all interrogations be improved to reflect an educated civilized behaviour.It is totally unacceptable that people being interrogated turn up dead even in a few cases. Interrogation should as is done in the USA alwys be conducted in the presence of the detenus lawyer.Meaning that interrogation should be done with logic and words and not the boot,hands or the belt. And certainly not with the bullet or the butt of the gun. Needless arrests are also not necessary just to collect cursory information. The police could start to learn how to ask someone to accompany them to the police stations or they could collect information by visiting the particular person. No wonder that the public sees the police at times as indian rather than pakistani. The police need to improve their image and public relations and they must hire educated consultants and advisors as they obviously do not have the necessary talents to improve in the required fields. The prime minister and the chief ministers need to think and focus on these aspects and they will have to talk to police officials to improve rather than firing off speeches at them whenever such unsavoury incidents occur.Helping out a few individuals personally will not improve the police system until and unless proper procedures are worked out and the police trained to use such procedures. Their is no point in every new govt hiring its own new policemen. Hiring them thru one agency or the other will make no difference until all police methods and processes are changed to reflect new realities and thoughts.Also the problem is usually not the law but how it is applied.
The country is in the grip of golden handshake schemes especially in the state sector.The federal govt, Habib bank and Wapda have all announced golden handshake schemes. The purpose it seems is to get rid of old employees as well as reduce the number of employees which supposedly will make them more efficient. The Habib bank has the best golden handshake scheme which guarantees the takers almost a similar income to the one which they now enjoy without having to do anything. The overall purpose as far as the habib bank is concerned is doubtful. The bank envisages that 33% of its approx 30000 employees will opt for the scheme which will cost the bank a whopping Rs12 billion obviously wiping out several years of profit. Since to improve the baNKS WORKING new employees will have to be hired, salaries raised, outmoded offices redone, existing office and bank technologies improved etc. the costs will run into at least 20-30 billion rupees. The end result supposedly a sleek CitiBank style of banking with highly paid and motivated workers. Than the bank will be sold. If that is the objective than it would be better to sell now so that the new owners can do the renovations. Upto now no state organization has been able to improve its working in anticipation of a better sales price. Therefore one questions the motivation of the golden handshake schemes and sees them as a waste of public money. If the workers are not needed or are inefficient than they should be laid off rather than being bought and than laid off. It had been previously propagated that the older workers were the problem and thus the Habib Bank new management had laid off all workers older than 55(3.5% of the workforce) under the golden handshake scheme. Now it is found that, that alone will not be enough. There are also reports that those laid off are already being rehired. The govt and the bank mangements need to clearly think out all the priorities and needs before making final decisions.Stop gap arrangements and start stop systems do not work very well under any economic system.
The above was printed in the local press today.Apparently a statement by an Nwfp PMLn secretary Saranjam Khan and a hawk vis a vis the ANP and PPP. Asif Zardari has had previous links with the ANP as has his father Hakim Zardari.A similar statement was issued by a karachi PMLn leader who was taken to court by Benazir Bhutto.Nawaz sharif too has been qouted as saying that he will blow up corruption and the corrupt. In nawaz sharif lingo the words corruption and corrupt only mean ASIF ALI ZARDARI. Despite having a huge mandate the PMLn is afraid of puny asif zardari.One wonders why? It might be pointed out that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was also hanged in a conspiracy between the ANP, PMLn and the establishment who are the present rulers too.Under such circumstances one can only pray for asif zardari.
In what maybe another attempt to subjugate the bhuttos the Ehtesab Cell has( according to a fax received from the concerned swiss banks )gotten suspended all the Swiss bank accounts of Benazir Bhutto, Asif Zardari, Nusrat Bhutto and Hakim Zardari. Nusrat Bhutto who has had little or no part in govt has been dragged in for the first time.The action has apparently been taken on the urging of the Ehtesab Cell by providing evidence of corruption.Since no corruption case has been filed by the Ehtesab Cell against the bhuttos personally( as yet )one can only consider the swiss action as abnormal, malafide and malicious. According to saif ur rahman (who has no other information about the accounts) he sent the banks info about the PPP leaders corruption which resulted in the action. If true this would be only the second reported action against leaders of poor countries in recent times. The former ruler of Zaire who reportedly ate up 20-30 billion dollars over his 30 year rule was found to have only a few million in swiss accounts. Until further disclosures one can only assume that the action is aimed at undermining Bhuttos PPP and her stature. According to Saif the accounts could contain around 50-80 million dollars a measely amount when compared to the reported one to three billion dollars that the Bhuttos have reportedly swallowed. Theoretically a bank cannot suspend an account until legal action is brought against them or the account holders. Since no legal actions have as yet been initiated the banks actions can only be termed as politically motivated. Most Swiss banks pride themselves on confidentiality and secrecy which is obviously being thrown out the window. Even in pakistan bank accounts can only be suspended thru court orders and the Bhuttos local accounts have not been suspended or even checked. The courts in pakistan have ruled that that at least foreign currency accounts can not be investigated even if they are criminally oriented or even if there are connections to fraud(A decision that has helped nawaz sharif and his coterie of rich men). One hopes that such actions will force leaders not to maintain secret accounts abroad. Although if huge accounts were maintained in there own countries such accounts would be closed and the money confiscated by opponents whenever possible.Therefore it is the general practice in pakistan for the corrupt to invest in land, houses, housing schemes ,plazas and certificates which actions keep their money away from the public gaze .However one would hope that the western banks would in general avoid/prohibit opening accounts for third world leaders, generals and beaurocrats outside their countries. If this action can also be taken against other looters than it would help poor countries keep wealth in there own countries. According to reports pakistanis alone have US$30 billion in accounts around the world. The present rulers including the nawaz sharif clan are also reported to have huge bank holdings outside the country.Benazir Bhutto who is not in the country has reportedly denied having any such accounts. The PPP has however refuted the allegations on her behalf.
According to some jornalists Shaukat Tareen the HBL president and former CitiBank head in Pakistan is the informant who convinced the swiss authorities on the GOP’s behalf. Shaukat Tareen was appointed to head the Habib Bank by the PPP. The matter is still very murky and the Swiss authorities should at least release some information on the reasons for their actions.
ADDED on 19-9-1997– While the confusion over whose accounts they are continues some newspapers suggest that Benazir accepts them as hers while she rejects the idea that Zardari has any overseas accounts. The PPP it is obvious is divided over whether its leaders should have huge overseas accounts although everyone says that overseas accounts are not illegal. The reasons for having them suspended are still shrouded in secrecy. The main reason for going after the accounts seems to be Nawaz Sharifs and the PMLn riff raffs jealousy over BHUTTOS wealth.
The British govt has however rejected to take a similar action.The British cite islamabads refusal to help out in the BCCI affair and a lack of of any two way agreement on crime control. Earlier the British had refused to extradite Altaf hussain who was controlling terrorism in karachi from his london base.
Benazir however is obviously thinking of spending her long held secret reserves and is going about purchasing further residences in exotic places such as Dubai and Lahore. She previously has residences in England, Karachi,Islamabad(two), Larkana and France. According to sources the Bhuttos have diversified there holdings and have about 1 billion pounds of wealth in nine different locations.The Nawaz regime is apparently after it all.They probably see the sindhi families wealth as a threat to their political future
ADDED ON 4-10-1997
It now seems that there is no great sum of money in the swiss accounts that were frozen. The Swiss banks have also refused to release any information claiming it would violate secrecy rules. All the characters involved including Saif, Benazir, nusrat are in London. Since the london govt will not take any action onits own the pak govt will have to approach the british courts to get the properties of the Bhuttos and Zardaris confiscated or frozen.Since London is relatively liberal vis a vis corruption no action is expected soon. There are however reports circulating here that a british concern that had dealings with the Sind govt has kicked back to the Sind/MQM minister Dr. Farook Sattar who went to London recently to get his share???
ADDED ON 7-10-1997
According to latest reviews doubts are being expressed on whether the govt has enough evidence against the Bhuttos on the Swiss Bank accounts issue. Anyway the Swiss govt has been very liberal and they have upto December 8 to prove there case. The govt has hired the countries most expensive lawyer to probe the Bhuttos swiss connection. Upto now it has been estimated that teh govt has spent US$2 million on this account.
Anyway as a by product of the issue Cotechna has bought back its share owned by its parent SGS.Cotechna is owned by an overseas egyptian family and they say that they have done nothing wrong and that they are legally safe. The Phillipine govt it has been revealed was unable to get back the Marcos wealth hidden in Swiss accounts as they supposedly missed the legal boat.
ADDED ON 16-10-1997
According to the press the accounts that the ehtesab cell has gotten frozen in seven swiss banks altogether hold about US$13.5 million. The accounts according to the swiss belong to benazir and her realtives. This is certainly turning out to be needle in a haystack affair. Spending half a billion rupees(budget of the ehtesab cell) for such a puny amount can only be termed as political victimisation and vilification.
The Nawaz Sharif govt has apparently accepted the superiority of the Supreme Court and just a day after filing a review petition has agreed to take back the order decreasing the SC strength from 17 to 12. They now will probably try to subdue the SC by specifying the SC strength by legislation. Why the govt backed off is surprising. Under the constitution they can decide the strength of the SC. The only point needing interpretation was whether deciding what number of judges the Supreme court should have includes reducing its strength at a point when there was friction on appointments. All they had to do was to convince the court that the decision was not taken maliciously and in order to embarass the SC. The Nawaz law team of Khalid anwar and Chaudhry Farook will probably not be able to show their red faces anywhere for a few days. The Nawaz team should realize that if they reduce the Supreme Court strength by legislation than the SC might strike down such legislation.The conflicts between Khalid Anwar previously a darling of the judges and the Supreme Court according to the pakistani press continues.
ADDED ON THE 23 SEPT 1997
According to the press some ministers close to the judiciary and nawaz sharif are indicating that they are ready to follow the Chief Justices instructions in the appointment of judges thus reducing or ending the nawaz-sajjad ali shah confrontation.
Added on 26-9-1997
The Chief justices committee met and considered the situation of the govt not having met the one month guidline period.(according to the famous judges case decision the govt has to appoint new judges within one month of receiving the CJ’s reccommendations). The judges seem to have been tamed as they have no way out of a no win situation. They have not even censured the govt, only deciding to hope that the govt will follow the CJ’s reccommendations and appoint judges soon. They also hope that the legislature will increase the no of judges rather than reduce given the extremely heavy load of cases. Nawaz Sharif has recently stated that the decision on the the number of judges of the supreme court will be made by the legislature. So will it be 12, 17, 18 ,20 or 24 ?
ADDED ON 4-10-1997
The matter of judges strenghth has been taken up by the cabinet and it seems that they will fall in line with the position of the Supreme Court CJ and in fact might even increase the strength by one to 18. However they will it thru legislative action to keep the upper hand. The CJ had recently stated that they can if required overturn legislation if it contravenes the constitution in any way or the intent of the national assembly is malicious.The other option is to forget the matter altogether and just appoint the newly reccommended Supreme Court judges. But in that case nawaz would lose face in the eyes of most of his supporters. Because of the controversy the discussions of the cabinet were held in secret and all the senior officials were asked to leave the cabinet room!!! Added on 4-10-1997
It seems that the CJ is backing off stating that we are only interested in having the vacancies on the SC bench filled>
Added on 19-10-1997
The SC-nawaz controversy continues. The PMLn had succeeded in driving a wedge between the CJ and other judges. However the request of the rebel judges for a meeting of all judges to discuss the appointment of new judges was rejected by sajad ali shah as unconstitutional. Nawaz on the other hand has backed out of pushing the SC judges towards confrontation with the CJ. However the CJ after failing to budge nawaz on the appointment issue has finally asked for the constitutional support of the president.Under article 190 the executive has aid the judiciary in all matters.
–SEPT 22, 1997Nawaz sharif who had gone into negotiations with india almost as dewy eyed kid has been brought down to earth. The indians who had apparently agreed to hand over kashmir in the nawaz-gujral talks have eventually backed out of all committments and even the setting up of committees could not be accomplished.In the latest round of talks at the foreign secretary level nothing meaningful was accomplished and on return the secretary reported that india had backed out of its committments. Anyway useless and aimless negotiations are not going to accomplish anything. It is necessary that pakistan inform the indians how long they are going to wait for any concrete outcome. Upto now it is generally assumed that the pakistanis are helping india rather than the kashmiris. The continuous use of indian force against the hapless and unarmed kashmiris will only cause further harm to the reputation of the pakistani govt. Nawaz had better realize that the indians have no intentions of moving to a real dialogue on kashmir and had better start to explore other options to prod the indians.
PAGE INDEX To get back to the top
There have been some more revelations in the Swiss account freeze story.The story seems to have in general bombed and the only people mentioning it are PMLn leaders with no personal credibility. It seems that with the PMLn leaders also having accumulated excessive wealth they have started thinking that it might make it easier for future govts to confiscate their wealth too if the campaign against bhutto continues in the negative vein.
Anyway apart from corruption Saif is also blaming the bhuttos of being involved in the Drugs trade which does seem a bit farfetched. Anyway the bhuttos are stated to have around 36000 acres of land with benazir and zardari thirsting for more.
After more than a year of investigations they have failed to find anything in the benazir is corrupt campaign. No cases have as yet been registered on that score. Saif has identified only two cases of alleged corruption both of which are against zardari.
1. The surrey mansion case which saif says has already been sold to a third party and thus will obviously not hold up. Also no direct links could be established between zardari and the surrey mansion. The price mentioned seems too low for the type of estate.
2. That $11.1 million were transferred from a Dubai gold trader to Zardaris firm Capricorn in Switzerland. The money was apparently paid for getting the monopoly on gold imports into pakistan. The gold trader has according to the press threatened to sue Saif for slander and getting access to his foreign currency account. According to another report he has also shown willingness to become an approver against zardari. The gold import was legalised to end smuggling which was largely successful. The local press has suggested that zardari was getting Rs4 for every tola of gold imported.!!
3.The other allegation is that the Swiss firm SGS-Cotechna offered 6% via a letter to Mauriston Securities Inc supposedly owned by Zardari for the contract of pre shipment inspections in and out of pakistan. Cotechna got the contract and was largely successful in reducing the complaints of bussinessmen against Customs excesses. SGS has supposedly fired one of its vice presidents incharge of contracts.
Both Zardari and Hakim Zardari have denied having any Swiss accounts. The accounts probably belong to the six middleman companies and it is doubtful that they would have direct links to the Bhuttos and Zardaris. Thus one can surmise that the Swiss govt has been duped by the Pakistani govt. People question why the Wealth of the Zardaris and The Bhuttos within the country has not been confiscated if they are really corrupt and involved in the drug trade. Both families are amongst pakistans richest landowners and have excessive wealth in the country.
Anyway both the sharifs are to spend three days on private bussiness in london during the coming days. It seems that with the swiss freeze the sharifs too have felt the need to cover their own tracks. The sharifs too are great manipulators of rules and regulations and are reported too have extensive resources hidden outside the country alongwith some other members of there party. The younger sharif is supposed to have a second wife hidden away in london to whom he is supposedly very attached. It is rumoured that he has been trying to end his obligations to his first wife so that he can live openly with his second wife.Because his family refuses to accept a divorce he is reportedly not concentrating properly on his job as the chief minister of punjab.(Just a rumour)
Added on 26-9-1997–Benazir Bhutto also seems to be headed to London!! Are Nawaz, Benazir, Shahbaz and Altaf planning a get together??
Added on 30-9-97
The two sharifs were in London almost together for the birth of Nawaz sharifs grandson.The sharifs who are oblivious of the carnage back home which has taken the lives of over 170 people in the last few months took three days off which is most unusual for pakistani prime ministers. Here we do not talk of the almost continuous robberies, dacoities and rapes. Nawaz also declared that the countries best known terrorist was the grandfather of his grandson. That complicates things as the paternity of nawaz sharifs son is now in doubt. It is usual for pakistani rulers and other leaders to have family births in London. In that we rival the richest countries of the world.
Added on 15-10-1997
According to the press the Bhuttos had a swiss represemtative named Le Gen Schlegelmilch who operated six virgin island companies for zardari and nusrat bhutto. The six companies are named Mauriston, Marleton, Dargal, Bomer, Capricorn and Nassam. The press has printed two letters with signatures of zardari and nusrat bhutto which seem fake. They also have printed a hand written ledger which shows Boner Finance to have had a million dollars which were apparently spent on Zardari and some other people. This is pretty spooky stuff and the people wait to find out what is fact and what is fiction