Election 2013: Remember 12th May tomorrow

Remember 12th May tomorrow

Whatever the circumstances, the human nature is always hopeful and so we are hopeful that the population will come out in droves and vote with the conscience and not with emotional attachment to leaders who have never delivered in the past and who in fact are a great hindrance to the progress of the great country of ours – Pakistan.

When you vote tomorrow, please remember to reject the corrupt, the tried and tested, the mock faithfuls, the so called open minded when they are the most closed minded and above all the extortionists, the real terrorists, the cannibals.

Vote for the untried and untested. This is the best hope we have…. And perhaps the most provident.

In the midst of all, please do not forget 12th May, it is only fitting that the elections are taking place in May only a day ahead of 12th May which is one of the darkest chapters in country’s history when a city was locked down by darkness and torch bearers of confrontation and regression.

No one should forget 12th May, 2007, when a country’s Chief Justice was denied entry to Karachi. When people were killed in cold blood, when media was terrorised and which to this day is crying for justice.

The three main parties claiming to represent the voice of liberals played the game of blood against each other’s workers on that day.

You can search for yourself to confirm what happened that day but you may find some links at the end of the article as well.

The supporters of this crime and many more over the course of the last fifty decades (including succession of East Pakistan and other debacles) and their cohorts should be utterly rejected if the people require a change for the better, for a politics without violence where differing opinions are respected and where people are respected for what they bring to the table and welcomed.

Karachi is a cosmopolitan city, attracting people from all ethnicitiy and backgrounds like any mega-city in the world and will remain so. It is up to the people to come out in their droves and reject the politics of fear, intimidation, extortion and above all false victimization. People remaining in power for over two decades cannot claim victimization.. not any more.

Remember, it is very difficult to rig an election, where an overwhelming majority of people vote for a new face, a change. Vote for Imran Khan, he is not a perfect man but he has never been tried. And  only a fool will try the same thing, the same people again and again which has failed before. It has not worked in the past and will not work in the future.

Vote for your future generations… vote for hope.

Good luck Pakistan.

Links (remember and reflect before you vote!)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Karachi_riots

http://www.opinion-maker.org/2013/04/pakistan-12th-may-a-message-loud-and-clear/

http://www.chowrangi.pk/12-may-2007-a-black-day-in-history-of-pakistan.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8693681.stm

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/13/world/asia/13iht-pakistan.5.5692979.html?_r=0

http://www.iol.co.za/news/world/karachi-gun-battles-leads-to-deadly-chaos-1.352721#.UY0Z8cUUOqY

Crooks proves himself yet again!!!

The transmission of Geo News has been blocked overnight in various parts of country after it aired news regarding hurling of shoes at President Zardari during his party address in Birmingham, Geo News reported cable operators sources as saying.

Meanwhile, many offices of cable operators in Karachi have been set ablaze by angry activists of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Some of PPP’s leaders and government officials have issued threats and warnings to cable operators across country against continuation of Geo News transmission, pressurizing them to shut Geo News transmission but most cable operators refused to do so, sources said.

However, a private company namely World Call and another one by the name KMPC blocked Geo News signals as late as 2am in morning.

Newspapers’ vendors have been robbed of copies of Jang and Thenews newspapers upon direction of President Asif Ali Zardari and Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira from London, besides, the PPP workers were accompanied by police officials in posing threats to cable operators and hawkers, sources told media.

Following the blockage, a large number of people registered a massive protest against closure of Geo News transmission across country and rampage, arson and riots triggered by workers of PPP, sources said.

Meanwhile, many a Geo News’ workers have decided to register a protest against government in reaction against blockage of Geo News transmission over keeping people updated with facts and truths.

People and Geo News employees have resolved staging a massive string of demonstrations against stoppage of Geo News transmission and burning of Jang and Thenews newspapers by PPP workers, sources said.

The Demos will be staged outside President House, Prime Minister House, in front of Oman Embassy in Islamabad, outside CM, Governor Houses, Press Clubs and offices of cable operators all over country.

Most copies of Jang and Thenews newspapers have been burnt to ashes after robbing them of hawkers at gunpoint in Karachi.

A meeting of journalists, and Geo News employees has been convened in this connection, which will decide further course of action over this issue, journalists told Geo News.

People were of the view that Geo/Jang Group is being penalized over revealing of facts and speaking the truth. They said the ruling elite is angry over reporting of news regarding controversial visit of president Zardari in face of worst floods in country.

President was not only being criticized in country but international media were also grilling him due to massive human crisis in country while he refused to call off his UK visit.

Source: http://www.geo.tv/8-8-2010/69658.htm

Stress Release

If you are stressed and annoyed with how our President is conducting himself then some stress release is not out of the way…

here you go enjoy…

http://decentsms.com/zardari.html

Tainted banker rewarded – Zardari’s cesspool continues to take shape

Salim Raza, the banker who helped arrange President Zardari have unverified bank accounts at Citibank (facilitated money laundering) to facilitate SGS Cotecna money laundering scam is now nominated by Zardari to be the State Bank of Pakistan’s Governor replacing Shamshad Akhtar.

Of course Zardari does not forgets his friends and benefactors…… On the other hand his government has not even begin the murder investigation of Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated this month last year. Conflicting stories have surfaced with PPP leadership and Benazir’s close confidants giving conflicting accounts of what happened on that fateful day of 27 Dec 2007.

However, let’s pull back to the topic of this blog… Yes the premier banker of Pakistan (our Alan Greenspan) is to be a past money laundering facilitator as noted by the US Senate.

Read the story and enjoy or be saddened whatever suits your view!!!

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In addition to Mr. Shaukat Aziz, current Prime Minister of Pakistan, numerous former Citibankers occupy highly influential positions in the government and the private sector in Pakistan.

Citibank is one of the largest banks, and operates one of the largest private banks in the US and globally. Of the 40 private banks reviewed by the Federal Reserve during its industry wide examination of private banking in the 1990s, only one — Citibank — was reviewed in detail by Federal Reserve examiners three years in a row. It is a private bank that has struggled with a wide range of anti-money laundering issues. Although Citibank, under Shaukat Aziz’s leadership (from May 1997 to October 1999) and his successors’ has done much to tighten controls, it was beset by numerous scandals during the 1990s.

A 1999 US Congress investigation (exact reference given at end) into Citibank, provides a fascinating inside look at how Citibank helped launder the ill-gotten gains of four high profile corrupt figures: Raul Salinas, brother of the former president of Mexico, Carlos Salinas, Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan (reproduced below), El Hadj Omar Bongo, the elected president of Gabon since 1967, and Mohammed, Ibrahim, and Abba Sani Abacha, three sons of General Sani Abacha, who was the military leader of Nigeria from 1993 until his death in 1998.

Of the four case histories provided in the Report, the following is a complete excerpt of the Case History for Asif Zardari. The report also provides photocopies of signed documents, banks records, etc. (listed below, at the end).

[Beginning of Excerpt]
(2) Asif Ali Zardari Case History

The Facts
The second case history involves Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan. Ms. Bhutto was elected Prime Minister in 1988, dismissed by the President of Pakistan in August 1990 for alleged corruption and inability to maintain law and order, elected Prime Minister again in October 1993, and dismissed by the President again in November 1996. At various times, Mr. Zardari served as Senator, Environment Minister and Minister for Investment in the Bhutto government. In between the two Bhutto administrations, he was incarcerated in 1990 and 1991 on charges of corruption; the charges were eventually dropped. During Ms. Bhutto’s second term there were increasing allegations of corruption in her government, and a major target of those allegations was Mr. Zardari. It has been reported that the government of Pakistan claims that Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Zardari stole over $1 billion from the country.

During the period 1994 to 1997, Citibank opened and maintained three private bank accounts in Switzerland and a consumer account in Dubai for three corporations under Mr. Zardari’s control. There are allegations that some of these accounts were used to disguise $10 million in kickbacks for a gold importing contract to Pakistan.

Structure of Private Bank Relationship. Mr. Zardari’s relationship with Citibank began in October 1994, through the services of Kamran Amouzegar, a private banker at Citibank private bank in Switzerland, and Jens Schlegelmilch, a Swiss lawyer who was the Bhutto family’s attorney in Europe and close personal friend for more than 20 years. According to Citibank, Mr. Schlegelmilch represented to Mr. Amouzegar that he was working for the Dubai royal family and he wanted to open some accounts at the Citibank branch office in Dubai. Mr. Schlegelmilch had a Dubai residency permit and a visa signed by a member of the Dubai royal family. Mr. Amouzegar agreed to introduce Mr. Schlegelmilch to a banker in the Citibank branch office in Dubai.

According to Citicorp, Mr. Schlegelmilch told the Citibank Dubai banker that he wanted to open an account in the name of M.S. Capricorn Trading, a British Virgin Island PIC. The stated purpose of the account was to receive money and transfer it to Switzerland. The account was opened in early October 1994.

According to Citibank, Mr. Schlegelmilch informed the Dubai banker that he would serve as the representative of the account and the signatory on the account. Under Dubai law, a bank is not required to know an account’s beneficial owner, only the signatory. Citibank told the Subcommittee staff that Mr. Schlegelmilch did not reveal to the Dubai banker that Mr. Zardari was the beneficial owner of the PIC [Private Investment Company: an offshore company often used to launder money], and the account manager never asked him the identity of the beneficial owner of the account. Instead, according to Citibank, she assumed the beneficial owner of the account was the member of the royal family who had signed Mr. Schlegelmilch’s visa. According to Citibank, the account manager actually performed some due diligence on the royal family member whom she believed to be the beneficial owner of the account.

Shortly after opening the account in Dubai, Mr. Schlegelmilch signed a standard referral agreement with Citibank Switzerland private bank guaranteeing him 20% of the first three years of client net revenues earned by the bank from each client he referred to the private bank.

On February 27, 1995, Mr. Schlegelmilch, working with Mr. Amouzegar, opened three accounts at the Citibank Switzerland private bank. The accounts were opened in the name of M.S. Capricorn Trading, which already had an account at Citibank’s Dubai branch, as well as Marvel and Bomer Finance, two other British Virgin Island PICs established by Mr. Schlegelmilch, according to Citibank. Each private bank account listed Mr. Schlegelmilch as the account contact and signatory. Citibank informed the Subcommittee that the Swiss Form A, a government-required beneficial owner identification form, identified Mr. Zardari as the beneficial owner of each PIC.

Lack of Due Diligence. The decision to allow Mr. Schlegelmilch to open the three accounts on behalf of Mr. Zardari, according to Citibank, involved officials at the highest levels of the private bank. The officials were: (a) Mr. Amouzegar, the private banker; (b) Deepak Sharma, then head of private bank operations in Pakistan; (c) Phillipe Holderbeke, then head of private bank operations in Switzerland (who became head of the Europe, Middle East, Africa Division in February 1996); (d) Salim Raza, then head of the EMEA Division of the private bank; and (e) Hubertus Rukavina, then head of the Citibank private bank. Mr. Rukavina told the Subcommittee staff that when he was asked about opening the Zardari accounts, he did not make the decision to open them, but rather directed that the matter be discussed with Mr. Sharma. According to Mr. Rukavina, he never heard whether the accounts were ultimately opened. Mr. Rukavina left the private bank in 1996 and left Citibank in 1999.

Citibank informed the Subcommittee staff that the private bank was aware of the allegations of corruption against Mr. Zardari at the time it opened the accounts in Switzerland. However, Citibank reasoned that if the charges for which Mr. Zardari had been incarcerated for two years had any merit, they would not have been dropped. Bank officials also believed that the family wealth of Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Zardari was large enough to support a large private bank account, even though Citibank was not able to specify what actions were taken to verify the amount and source of their wealth. Citibank said that bank officials were also aware of the M.S. Capricorn Trading account in Dubai, and they were comforted by the fact that there had been no problems with that account. According to Citibank, Mr. Amouzegar informed his superiors that Mr. Zardari was the beneficial owner of the Capricorn account in Dubai when they were considering the request to open the accounts in Switzerland. Inexplicably, however, the Dubai account manager was apparently still operating under the assumption that the beneficial owner of the Dubai Capricorn account was a member of the Dubai royal family. Subcommittee staff have been unable to determine whether Citibank officials were unaware of or inattentive to the serious inconsistency between Citibank Switzerland and Citibank Dubai with respect to the Capricorn Trading account. Citibank also informed the Subcommittee staff that bank officials had some concerns that if they turned down the accounts, their actions may have implications for the corporation’s operations in Pakistan; however, they said they never received any threats on that issue.

Citibank told the Subcommittee staff the private bank decided to allow Mr. Schlegelmilch to open the three accounts for Mr. Zardari on the condition that the private bank would not be the primary accounts for Mr. Zardari’s assets and the accounts would function as passive investment accounts. Citibank told the Subcommittee staff that Mr. Holderbeke signed a memo delineating the restrictions placed on the accounts, including a $40 million aggregate limit on the size of the three accounts, and transaction restrictions requiring the accounts to function as passive, stable investments, without multiple transactions or funding pass-throughs. None of the Citibank personnel interviewed by Subcommittee staff could identify any other private bank account with these types of restrictions. Other private banks interviewed by the Subcommittee staff were asked if they had ever accepted a client on the condition that certain restrictions be imposed on the account. The banks all said they had not. One bank representative explained that if the bank felt that it needed to place restrictions on the client’s account, it didn’t want that type of client. The existence of the restrictions are in themselves proof of the private bank’s awareness of Mr. Zardari’s poor reputation and concerns regarding the sources of his wealth.

Movement of Funds. Citibank told the Subcommittee staff that, once opened, only three deposits were made into the M.S. Capricorn Trading account in Dubai. Two deposits, totaling $10 million were made into the account almost immediately after it was opened. Citibank records show that one $5 million deposit was made on October 5,1994, and another was made on October 6, 1994. The source of both deposits was A.R.Y. International Exchange, a company owned by Abdul Razzak Yaqub [since then, the owner of several ARY television channels that, incidentally, have been providing favorable coverage of Ms. Bhutto’s recent political activities], a Pakistani gold bullion trader living in Dubai.

According to the New York Times, in December 1994, the Bhutto government awarded Mr. Razzak an exclusive gold import license. In an interview with the New York Times, Mr. Razzak acknowledged that he had used the exclusive license to import more than $500 million worth of gold into Pakistan. Mr. Razzak denies, however, making any payments to Mr. Zardari. Citibank could not explain the two $5 million payments. Ms. Bhutto told the Subcommittee staff that since A.R.Y. International Exchange is a foreign exchange business, the payments did not necessarily come from Mr. Razzak, but could have come from a third party who was merely making use of A.R.Y.’s exchange services. The staff invited Ms. Bhutto to provide additional information on the M.S. Capricorn Trading accounts, but she has not yet done so.

On February 25, 1995, a third deposit of $8 million was made into the Dubai M.S. Capricorn Trading account. Records show that the payment was made through American Express, with the originator of the account listed as “Morgan NYC.” Citibank indicated it does not know who Morgan NYC is, nor does it know the source of the $8 million.

All of the funds in the Dubai account of M.S. Capricorn Trading were moved to the Swiss accounts in the Spring of 1995. On March 6, 1995, $8.1 million was transferred; and on May 5, 1995, another $10.2 million was transferred. Both transfers involved U.S. dollars and were routed through Citibank’s New York offices. Citibank informed the Subcommittee staff that M.S. Capricorn Trading closed its Dubai account shortly after the last transfer was completed.

Citibank has indicated that significant amounts of other funds were also deposited into the Swiss accounts. As described below, the $40 million cap was reached, and millions of additional dollars also passed through those accounts. However, Swiss bank secrecy law has prevented the Subcommittee from obtaining the details on the transactions in the Zardari accounts.

Account Monitoring. Citibank told the Subcommittee staff that, in 1996, the Swiss office of the private bank conducted a number of reviews of the Zardari Swiss accounts, finally deciding in October to close them.

The first review was allegedly in early 1996, triggered by increasing publicity about allegations of corruption against Mr. Zardari. Citibank told the Subcommittee staff that Messrs. Holderbeke, [Salim] Raza, Sharma and Amouzegar participated in the review, and apparently concluded that the allegations were politically motivated and that the accounts should remain open. The Subcommittee staff was told that the review did not include looking at the accounts’ transaction activity.

In March or April, 1996, Mr. Amouzegar asked that the overall limit on the Zardari accounts be increased from $40 million to $60 million, apparently because the accounts had reached the previously imposed limit of $40 million. Citibank told the Subcommittee staff that Mr. Holderbeke considered the request, but declined to increase the $40 million limit.

In June, press reports in the United Kingdom that Mr. Zardari had purchased real estate in London triggered still another review of the Zardari accounts. Citibank private bank told the Subcommittee staff that its Swiss office internally discussed the source of the funds for the property purchase. Mr. Amouzegar and Mr. [Salim] Raza then met with Mr. Schlegelmilch, who allegedly informed them that funds had been deposited into the Citibank accounts, transferred to another PIC account outside of Citibank and used to purchase the property. Mr. Schlegelmilch allegedly indicated the funds had come from the sale of some sugar mills and were legitimate. Citibank told the Subcommittee staff it is not sure if anyone at the private bank attempted to validate the information about the sale of the sugar mills. In addition, even though this account activity violated the condition imposed by Citibank that the accounts were not to be used as a pass through for funds, the accounts were kept open.

Closing the Accounts. In July 1996, after Mr. Amouzegar left the private bank to open his own company, another private banker, Cedric Grant, took over management of the Zardari accounts. Citibank told the Subcommittee staff that Mr. Grant began to review the Zardari accounts about one month later to familiarize himself with them. He also reviewed the transactions that had taken place within the accounts.

In September and October 1996, press accounts in Pakistan repeatedly raised questions about corruption by Mr. Zardari and Ms. Bhutto, as Ms. Bhutto’s re-election campaign increased its activities prior to a February election date. In September, Ms. Bhutto’s only surviving brother, Murtaza Bhutto, was assassinated, and Ms. Bhutto’s mother accused Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Zardari of masterminding the murder, because the brother had been leading opposition to Ms. Bhutto.

In October, Mr. Grant completed his review of the Zardari accounts and provided a written analysis to Messrs. Holderbeke, Sharma and [Salim] Raza, according to Citibank. Mr. Grant had found numerous violations of the account restrictions imposed by Citibank, including multiple transactions and funding pass-throughs. Citibank told the Subcommittee staff that the accounts had functioned more as checking accounts than passive investment accounts, directly contrary to the private bank’s restrictions. Apparently, well over $40 million had flowed through the accounts, though Subcommittee staff were unable to ascertain the actual amount because Swiss bank secrecy law prohibits Citibank from sharing that information with the Subcommittee. Citibank indicated that Mr. Amouzegar had either ignored or did not pay attention to the account activity. Mr. Grant recommended closing the accounts, and they were closed by January 1997.

[Note: In May 1997, Mr. Shaukat Aziz was transferred at Citibank’s New York headquarters, from his position as head of credit card operations to head of private banking. In November 1996, Mr. Farooq Laghari had dismissed the government of Ms. Benazir Bhutto-Zardari; and in February 1997, Mr. Nawaz Sharif became Prime Minister.]

Legal Proceedings. On September 8, 1997, the Swiss government issued orders freezing the Zardari and Bhutto accounts at Citibank and three other banks in Switzerland at the request of the Pakistani government. Since Citibank had closed its Zardari accounts in January 1997, it took no action nor did it make any effort to inform U.S. authorities of the accounts until late November 1997. Citibank contacted the Federal Reserve and OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the banking supervision arm of the US Department of Treasury] about the Zardari accounts in late November, in anticipation of a New York Times article that eventually ran in January 1998, alleging that Mr. Zardari had accepted bribes, and that he held Citibank accounts in Dubai and Switzerland. On December 8 and 11, 1997, Citibank briefed the OCC and the Federal Reserve, respectively, about the accounts and the steps it had taken as a result of the Zardari matter. These steps included: closing all of the accounts that had been referred by Mr. Schlegelmilch to the private bank and terminating his referral agreement; reviewing all of the accounts opened in the Dubai office; and tightening up account opening procedures in Dubai, including requiring the Dubai office to identify the beneficial owner of all Dubai accounts. Citibank did not identify any changes made or planned for the Swiss office, even though the majority of the activity with respect to the Zardari accounts had taken place in Switzerland.

On December 5, 1997, Citibank prepared a Suspicious Activity Report on the Zardari accounts and filed it with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network at the U.S. Department of Treasury. The filing was made fourteen months after its decision to close the Zardari accounts; thirteen months after Mr. Zardari was arrested a second time for corruption in November 1996; and nearly two months after the Swiss government had ordered four Swiss banks (including Citibank Switzerland) to freeze all Zardari accounts.

In June 1998, Switzerland indicted Mr. Schlegelmilch and two Swiss businessmen, the former senior executive vice president of SGS and the managing director of Cotecna, for money laundering in connection with kickbacks paid by the Swiss companies for the award of a government contract by Pakistan. In July 1998, Mr. Zardari was indicted for violation of Swiss money laundering law in connection with the same incident. Ms. Bhutto was indicted in Switzerland for the same offense in August 1998. A trial on the charges is expected.

In October 1998, Pakistan indicted Mr. Zardari and Ms. Bhutto for accepting kickbacks from the two Swiss companies in exchange for the award of a government contract. On April 15, 1999, after an 18-month trial, Pakistan’s Lahore High Court convicted Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Zardari of accepting the kickbacks and sentenced them to 5 years in prison, fined them $8.6 million and disqualified them from holding public office. Ms. Bhutto, who now lives in London, denounced the decision. Mr. Zardari remains in jail. Additional criminal charges are pending against both in Pakistani courts.

On December 11, 1997, Citicorp’s Chairman John Reed wrote the following to the Board of Directors:

“We have another issue with the husband of Ex-Prime Minister Bhutto of Pakistan. I do not yet understand the facts but I am inclined to think that we made a mistake. More reason than ever to rework our Private Bank.”

Mr. Reed told the Subcommittee staff that it was the combination of the Salinas and Zardari accounts that made him charge Mr. [Shaukat] Aziz [currently, Prime Minister of Pakistan], the new private bank head, with taking a hard look at the bank’s public figure policy and public figure accounts.

The Issues
The Zardari case history raises issues involving due diligence, secrecy and public figure accounts. The Zardari case history begins with the Citibank Dubai branch’s failure to identify the true beneficial owner of the M.S. Capricorn Trading account. As a result, the account officer in Dubai performed due diligence on an individual who had no relationship to the account being opened. In Switzerland, Citibank officials opened three private bank accounts despite evidence of impropriety on the part of Mr. Zardari. In an interview with Subcommittee staff, Citigroup Co-Chair John Reed informed the Subcommittee staff that he had been advised by Citibank officials in preparation for a trip to Pakistan in February 1994, that there were troubling accusations concerning corruption surrounding Mr. Zardari, that he should stay away from him, and that he was not a man with whom the bank wanted to be associated. Yet one year later, the private bank opened three accounts for Mr. Zardari in Switzerland. Mr. Reed told the Subcommittee staff that when he learned of the Zardari accounts he thought the account officer must have been “an idiot.”

Citibank has been unable to confirm that bank employees verified that Mr. Zardari had a level of wealth sufficient to support the size of the accounts that he was opening. In addition, the Swiss private banker took no action to validate the legitimacy of the source of the funds that were deposited into the account. For example, there was no effort made to verify the claims that some of the funds derived from the sale of sugar mills.

Citibank also performed no due diligence on the client owned and managed PICs that were the named accountholders. Because the PICs were client-created, the bank’s failure to perform due diligence on the PICs meant that it had no knowledge of the activities, assets or entities involved with the corporations. One of the PICs, Bomer Finance, has been determined to have been a repository for kickbacks paid to Mr. Zardari, and those kickbacks tainted funds deposited at the Geneva branch of Union Bank of Switzerland. Documentation has not been made available to determine whether Bomer Finance also used its Citibank account for illicit funds.

Another due diligence lapse was the private bank’s failure to monitor the Zardari accounts to ensure that the account restrictions imposed on them were being followed. When officials were presented with evidence in 1996 that the restrictions were being violated, they nevertheless allowed the accounts to continue.

The Zardari accounts in Switzerland were opened one day before Raul Salinas was arrested. The account was repeatedly reviewed in 1996, after the Salinas scandal became public. Yet there is no evidence that anyone in the private bank had been sensitized to the problems associated with handling an account of a person suspected of corruption.

The Zardari example also demonstrates the practical consequences of secrecy in private banking. Citibank claims that its decisionmaking in the Zardari matter cannot be fully explained or documented, since all Citibank officials are subject to Swiss secrecy laws prohibiting discussion of client-specific information. In light of the fact that U.S. banks are supposed to oversee their foreign branches and enforce U.S. law, including anti-money laundering requirements, this inability to produce documentation related to a troubling case again highlights the problems with U.S. banks choosing to operate in secrecy jurisdictions.

Pattern of Poor Account Management. The Zardari case history took place during a series of critical internal and federal audits between 1992 and 1997 of the Swiss office which, during most of that time, served as the headquarters of the private bank. The shortcomings identified in the audits included policies, procedures, and problems that affected the management of the Zardari accounts. They included:

* failure of the “corporate culture” in the Swiss office to foster ” ‘a climate of integrity, ethical conduct and prudent risk taking’ by U.S. standards”;

* inadequate due diligence;

* “less than acceptable internal controls”;

* lack of oversight and control of third party referral agents such as Schlegelmilch; and

* inadequate monitoring of accounts;

all of which resulted in “unacceptable” internal audit ratings. In December 1995, the Swiss office received the lowest audit score received by any office in the private bank during the 1990s. These audit scores indicate the office’s poor handling of the Zardari accounts was part of an ongoing pattern of poor account management.

[End of excerpt]

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Source: MINORITY STAFF REPORT FOR PERMANENT SUBCOMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATIONS HEARING ON PRIVATE BANKING AND MONEY LAUNDERING: A CASE STUDY OF OPPORTUNITIES AND VULNERABILITIES, November 9, 1999
http://www.senate.gov/~gov_affairs/110999_report.htm

The Report features as an annex toS. Hrg. 106-248
PRIVATE BANKING AND MONEY LAUNDERING: A CASE STUDY OF OPPORTUNITIES AND VULNERABILITIES, Hearings before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundred Sixth Congress, First Session, November 9 and 10, 1999.
This xiv+1114 pages report is available at:
http://www.gpo.gov/congress/senate/senate12sh106.html
as TEXT [424KB] and as PDF [30MB] files

It provides (on page numbers indicated) the following:
Documents relating to Asif Ali Zardari:

a. Swiss Form A identifying Asif Ali Zardari as the beneficial owner of the Capricorn Trading S.A. account in the Citibank Private Bank in Switzerland [600]…………………………………. 445 [Signed by “Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal House, Karachi (Pak)”]

b. Wire transfer records documenting transfers of $18 million into Mr. Zardari’s Capricorn Trading S.A. account in Dubai and transfers of $18.3 million out of the Dubai account into the Capricorn Trading S.A. account in Citibank Private Bank in Switzerland ……………………………………… 446

10/5/94 transfer of $5 million from A.R.Y. International Exchange into the Capricorn Trading S.A. account in
Citibank in Dubai [X6903-4];

10/6/94 transfer of $5 million from A.R.Y. International Exchange into the Capricorn Trading S.A. account in Citibank in Dubai [X6900-2];

2/24/95 transfer of $8 million from Morgan NYC into the Capricorn Trading S.A. account in Citibank in Dubai;

3/6/95 transfer of $8.1 million from the Capricorn Trading S.A. account in Citibank in Dubai into the Capricorn Trading S.A. account in Citibank Private Bank in Switzerland;

5/3/95 transfer of $10.2 million from the Capricorn Trading S.A. account in Citibank in Dubai into the Capricorn Trading S.A. account in Citibank Private Bank in Switzerland;

5/4/94 record of Citibank Private Bank in Switzerland credit of $10.2 million to account of Capricorn Trading
S.A.

c. Mandate Agreement between Asif Ali Zardari and Jens Schlegelmilch concerning Bomer Finance, Inc.
[601-2]………………………………… 466

d. Mandate Agreement between Begum Nusrat Bhutto and Jens Schlegelmilch concerning Mariston Securities, Inc.
[603-4]………………………………… 468

e. British Virgin Islands Certificate of Incorporation for Capricorn Trading S.A.
[605]………………………………….. 470

f. 6/29/94 letter from Cotecna Inspection S.A., stating that if it receives a contract from the government of Pakistan for the inspection and price verification of imported goods, it will pay Mariston Securities, Inc., 6 percent of the payments made under the contract [597]………………………………….. 471

g. 12/11/97 communication from John Reed to Citibank Board, including a discussion of the Zardari matter.. 472

h. List of meetings between Mr. Zardari and Citibank personnel, provided by Citibank ………….. 474

Source: http://www.chowk.com/ilogs/64054/44106

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And if it all sounds too fascinating.. then read this story from the respected newspaper “The News” on how Swiss prosectors had to withdraw the corruption cases after the Government of Pakistan pardoned all politicians under the garb of a National Reconciliation Ordinance signed by Musharraf, the dictator.

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With the withdrawal of money-laundering charges against Asif Ali Zardari by a Geneva prosecutor on Monday, the Co-chairman of the PPP must be a very happy man today after having fought the cases in several local and international courts for more than 10 years.

Irrespective of the merit of the case, the Swiss announcement is no surprise as the government of Pakistan, which initiated the money-laundering cases against Zardari and the late Benazir Bhutto, had been struggling for some time to withdraw the charges.

Now there is no case pending anywhere in the world against the contender for the Aiwan-i-Sadr, whose proud supporters will be able to keep their heads high when they walk into the office of the Election Commission on Tuesday morning to file his nomination papers for the country’s highest post. Only Asif Ali Zardari, whose political rivals had coined the nickname of “Mr Ten Percent,” knows how much he had to suffer during all these years to get a clean chit and become “Mr Clean.”

The money-laundering charges against Zardari were taken seriously by the international banking circles and the governments in 1999 when US Congress launched an intensive investigation into the allegations of money-laundering by Citibank through private banking.

A permanent sub-committee on investigation by US Congress found two cases intriguing enough to kick off a thorough probe. Nigeria’s military dictator Sani Abacha and Asif Ali Zardari’s bank accounts qualified for this investigation and US Congress found that both had been involved in money-laundering through Citibank’s negligence.

Pakistan’s former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, who was only known for his skills as a private banker before he joined Musharraf as his Finance Minister, was summoned by US Congress to appear before the committee and record his statement.

In that statement Aziz, who fled the country soon after the February 18 election results, had to disclose the number, amount, and details of the meetings that he had held with Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari as a private banker.

In his written testimony submitted to US Congress, Aziz admitted that he held at least 12 meetings either with Zardari or Bhutto separately or when both of them were present. The meetings were held between January 1994 and 1998 and interestingly these were the same years when Zardari was accused of money-laundering through ARY International Exchange, according to the details of the US report.

In some of these meetings with Citibank officials, other persons such as John Reed, who became President Clinton’s top financial guru, Shaukat Tarin, William Rhodes, Paul Collins, Salim Raza, and Sajjad Rizvi also participated.

These meetings were held in Islamabad , Karachi, Davos (Switzerland), Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and New York City. John Reed, who was then Citigroup co-chair, told the committee that before his trip to Pakistan in February 1994, he was advised to “stay away” from Mr Zardari for accusations of corruption which surrounded him and that “he was not a man with whom the bank wanted to be associated.”

Yet, one year later, for some unknown reasons, the American bank let Zardari open three accounts in Switzerland. Mr Reed told the committee that when he learnt of Zardari’s accounts he thought the account officer must have been “an idiot.”

Three years after the accounts opened and were operative in Swiss banks, Citicorp’s Chairman John Reed wrote to the Board of Directors on December 11, 1997: “We have another issue with the husband of ex-Prime Minister Bhutto of Pakistan. I do not yet understand the facts but I am inclined to think that we made a mistake.”

On the basis of the report findings, tougher systems were introduced in the US banking sector. However, the government of Pakistan, under the NRO, had withdrawn all cases from the local courts.

This local withdrawal was made the basis for the dropping of the cases in Swiss courts despite a voluminous investigative report by US Congress which had all the details of accounts and the route through which this money travelled to its destination.

The withdrawal of cases on Monday by the Swiss court will put an end to years of investigations. The 3.9 million Swiss francs, which were seized from these accounts, had been given to the Swiss government.

This is the same case in which former Attorney General Malik Qayyum, as judge of the Lahore High Court, had given a verdict against Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari. Qayyum was later booted out of the judiciary for charges of misconduct and corruption. Qayyum, however, served the PPP’s government as attorney general and appeared before the Swiss Courts on behalf of the government of Pakistan pleading the withdrawal of cases in which he himself had convicted the accused.

AP adds: The Geneva prosecutor says he has dropped money-laundering charges against PPP Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari. He says that 3.9 million Swiss francs seized in the case are being given to the Swiss government.

Prosecutor General Daniel Zappelli’s move comes eight months after he dropped charges against the assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Zappelli noted Monday that the Pakistan prosecutor had dropped his corruption cases against Zardari. He says Geneva’s 11-year investigation has produced too little for him to continue in light of the Pakistani prosecutor’s conclusion. He says he had no choice but to close the case.

Source: http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=16828

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Conclusion: A cesspool of corrupt politicians, businessmen, bankers, military men and foreign governments’ pointmen continue to destabilise, loot and plunder Pakistan.

Bring the deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan back

Here is another story of the farcical de facto chief justice (CJ) who has occupied the highest seat of Judiciary unconstitutionally in Pakistan and the collusion of the PPP government to manipulate the education board (an independent institution) to get CJ’s daughter a higher grade …..   read on!

what a shame!!!

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The PPP government on Thursday aggressively blocked the parliamentary probe into the chief justice’s daughter case amid an uproar in the National Assembly committee meeting that witnessed a walkout by the government members, including the minister of state for education.

The chairman of the NA Standing Committee on Education, Abid Sher Ali, of the PML-N was not allowed to proceed as the state minister consistently pressed that the inclusion of the CJ’s daughter case in the meeting’s agenda was a violation of the rules. The State Minister, Ghulam Farid Kathia, also strongly objected to the presence of not only media persons covering the event but also that of Ansar Abbasi, Editor Investigations, The News, who was invited by the committee as a special guest to take part in the proceedings.

The whole proceedings, which included the suspension of the noisy sitting for 15 minutes and followed by walkout of the government members and even the Education Ministry mandarins, turned out to be a joke when the chairperson of the Federal Board for Intermediate and Secondary Education, Ms. Shaheen Khan, refused to brief the committee on the issue despite repeated requests by the committee chairman.

Every time she was given the floor, she said that she would not utter a word unless allowed by her secretary and the minister, who kept on pressing that the issue could not be included in the agenda of the meeting without his consultation. At her response to the committee, the chairman told her: “You are answerable to the committee and if you do not talk on the issue, then you may leave.”

The angry chairman even once announced to postpone the meeting against what he said the negative attitude of the government side but the members intervened and requested him to continue the meeting. He again asked the FBISE chairperson to tell the committee about the issue but time and again the minister interrupted him and did not let him proceed.

Chairman Abid conducted short census among the eight members of the committee out of whom four said the proceedings on this issue of public interest be maintained. The chairman, while using his discretionary power, resumed the proceedings.

State Minister for Education Ghulam Farid Kathia refused to brief the committee, saying it was not on the agenda of the committee’s meeting. However, he was of the view that the issue should be discussed in camera, not in the presence of newsmen. This irritated the chairman who observed that the issue was of immense public interest and must be discussed in the presence of the press.

The committee witnessed some rowdy scenes and exchange of harsh words between Abid Sher Ali and Ghulam Farid Kathia as well as the FBISE Chairperson Shaheen Khan, who also declined to speak without the minister’s permission.

“You are trying to sabotage this meeting by interrupting me again and again … you may leave,” Ali repeatedly told the state minister for education who argued that the issue of CJ’s daughter could not be discussed, as it was not on the committee’s agenda.

The situation remained tense, as the government side insisted that the issue be taken up some other day. Kathia was of the view that the committee chairman had not consulted him on the issue and, therefore, he was going against the rules and regulations. However, Abid Sher Ali said he had written letters to all the concerned officials, including the FBISE chairperson, to appear before the committee with all the required record.

He said the issue was of serious nature in which the top government officials were involved in misuse of powers. “But nobody is ready on this issue,” Kathia argued followed by Abid Sher Ali’s remarks: “If you are not ready, then you can leave.” However, the minister refused to do so.

The chairman of the committee said: “You are trying to block the committee to proceed in the case of high public importance and defending the corrupt. You and the government are against the voiceless students who are tens of thousands in number.” Abid Sher Ali also said that the minister was defending those who indulged in abuse of power.

On the minister’s signal, four MNAs left the proceedings and staged a walkout. One of the National Assembly’s senior officials told the minister that under such rules, the committee could not discuss the issue.

Meanwhile, sources told The News that the meeting of the committee, scheduled to continue on Friday, was postponed by the speaker National Assembly. The sources said it was an attempt to strangulate the voice of truth.

Source: http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=18652

Asif Zardari (and buddies) now own KESC

The mystery surrounding the new owners of KESC, Karachi’s beleaguered power supply utility, has finally been unraveled. In a rare show of plain speaking, the top boss of Abraaj Capital with his 40 expensive executives, has made startling written confessions which may stun the nation.

In response to 35-questions sent to Abraaj/KESC’s new management, Mr Farrukh Abbas, the Chief Executive Officer of Abraaj Capital (Pak) and Mr. Naveed Ismail the Chief Executive Officer of KESC, have sent a 28-page document answering all the questions sent by The News, explaining and confirming what has so far remained part of a vicious whispering campaign in cool and cozy drawing rooms.

For instance these top executives admit that Mr Farrukh Abbas is a relative of President Asif Ali Zardari. “Mr Abbas is not directly related to the Zardari family, but is indeed through marriage,” his written response to The News states, but quickly adds: “At no time has any personal relationship played a part in Abraaj’s involvement in KESC….Abraaj spent six months doing due diligence of this deal and no favours were sought by Abraaj during the course of its negotiations with the Government of Pakistan and none were granted outside the normal course of commercial discussions aimed at reviving KESC for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

Another frank admission is that the Group marketing and Communication Head of Abraaj/KESC, Mr Qashif Effendi, is also related to the Zardari family. Is this correct, Mr Abbas was asked. “They are distantly related but that relationship has no impact on the business, nor has it played any role in Mr Effendi’s known career growth,” the written response says.

Yet another shocker comes when the company chief admits that the new Chief Financial Officer of KESC, Mr Jalil Tareen, is a distant cousin and a good friend of Mr Shaukat Tareen, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance but adds: “He has obviously been hired entirely on his own merits as he also happens to have a superb track record as a highly seasoned UK-qualified chartered Accountant and senior manager in Pakistani local and multi-national businesses.”

Abraaj is a middle-east based company with over US$7.5 billionin management funds and has been operating in several countries. Its investors are predominantly from the Gulf and wider Middle East and increasingly from markets as wide as US, Asia and Europe and its management says it has an clean track record of transparent and self-regulatory conduct.

Yet the manner in which the Abraaj Group has taken over the control of KESC is highly complicated and it would take some real experts to determine how they have been allowed to run a company with 17,000 employees when they do not own one share, either of KES Power or KESC, as of today.

According to the detailed answer regarding ownership of shares, this is the exact explanation provided to The News by Mr Farrukh Abbas. It is reproduced in toto so that experts can decipher the real situation.

The question sent to Abraaj was the following: Has the transfer of 51 per cent shares between Al-Jomaih Group (KES Power) and Abraaj Capital been completed. If so when was it done?

The answer: It is important to note that there is no transfer of shares taking place in the transaction. Abraaj will subscribe for new shares in KES Group, the holding company that currently owns 71.5 per cent of KESC. As a result of this subscription for new shares, Abraaj will end up owning 50 per cent of the issued share capital of KES Power, and therefore will indirectly own 35.75 per cent of KESC. All of the capital (i.e. funds) used for the purchase of KES Power Shares will remain in KES Power and will then be injected into KESC (this is what is meant by capital injection). The total amount to be injected equals US$361 million, all of which will go directly into the business of KESC. This exactly equal the amount that has been invested in KESC by the existing shareholders Al Jomaih Group and NIG, who will continue to hold the same number of shares as before in KES Power, but will be diluted down to 30 per cent and 20 per cent ownership respectively in KES Power. As part of the agreement between Al-Jomiah and Abraaj, Abraaj will have full management control of KESC.

These top level connections to the political leadership of the country apart, the Abraaj management has already acquired the reputation of an arrogant, no-nonsense set up which does not care about the consumers of KESC or the Karachi political leadership, an attitude never seen before in any management, not even run by the army.

This became evident last week when a top Jamaat Islami delegation led by Mr Mehnti, tried to meet the top managers at the KESC office but they were not allowed on the 7th floor and security guards were called to shoo them out. A notice has been posted at the 7th floor that prior appointments are required to meet anyone.

Yet while the Abraaj management claims that these top level relationships with the political class have played no role in acquiring KESC or running it, the 28-page document submitted to The News denies these claims of not being a ‘most favoured company’, even before it has acquired the stakes.

For instance Abraaj has confirmed the following special favours given to the company in the last few months, eversince Abraaj started the due diligence process to acquire KESC. These statements of fact were made in answers to various questions in different contexts:

* While Abraaj has already taken over KESC and started running the show, the document says: “Management control of KESC will transfer fully to Abraaj once the transaction has been completed. “The Consortium agreement has been signed between Abraaj and KES Power (Al Jomaih Group, the previous owners) and there are a number of conditions precedents that need to be satisfied before the subscription of shares can take place.” So factually Abraaj has no shares in KESC as of now but has been handed over the management.

* “KES Power and the Government of Pakistan, as the existing shareholders of KESC, requested that Abraaj make its new management team available to the company prior to transaction completion”. Why the GOP was so interested in an Abraaj takeover even before the formalities and transfer of shares was completed has not been explained.

* The new senior management team was appointed and empowered by the existing Board of Directors, including the Government, through circulation without any formal Board meeting.

* “Abraaj’s entry into KESC will occur once the GOP approves a waiver to the Sales-Purchase agreement signed between the Privatisation Commission and KES Power in November 2005. The GoP has to approve the transaction and sale of new shares by KES Power to Abraaj by Nov 28, 2008 after which the shares would be available for transfer to Abraaj.”

* Although Abraaj has yet to acquire the shares, Government of Pakistan has already approved a petition awarding Disco Status to KESC which means buying Wapda electricity at 25 to 30 per cent of the current rates. This concession was denied to all previous managements of KESC for years, not given even by General Pervez Musharraf to army generals running KESC. Yet Abraaj is so influential it says: “Following consultations with the GOP, and after filing a detailed petition with NEPRA, Abraaj and KESC were able to convince the Government and NEPRA that this discriminatory treatment must be reversed and KESC must be treated on par with all the other Discos (distribution companies) in the country. NEPRA issued a determination in this regard following full consultations and hearings….It is important to note that key beneficiaries of this decision are the consumer of Karachi.” This decision would save KESC Rs30 billion in money it owes to Pepco and in future it will get electricity cheaper from Wapda.

* Regarding new concessions from the Zardari Government, Abraaj says:: “All that has been done is address actual problems and issues faced by KESC and to try and find solutions to these problems,” and significantly admits: “Some of these problems that were addressed had been lingering for years, without adequate focus from either the management of KESC or the Government….With active effort many of these problems have been solved, or at least begun to be solved..”

* In a significant claim, the Abraaj statement says: “Without active involvement from Abraaj and the new management team, many of these issues would have remained unresolved.”

* Government of Pakistan has already settled the dispute of pending payments between KESC and Wapda/Pepco on KESC’s terms. Besides the above fast track concessions, this is a major achievement as this was a lingering issue since 2004 but was resolved even before Abraaj has acquired the KESC shares. Abraaj, however, maintains that “Its (the Wapda dues) elimination does not alter KESC’s financial position and does not, in any sense, amount to a write off.”

* Abraaj and Government of Pakistan have already agreed on amendments in the Implementation Agreement which was originally signed between KESC and the Government when KESC was privatised to Al-Jomiah Group in Nov 2005. The Abraaj statement claims these amendments will “bring the agreement up to date and to clarify the support which the Government will provide (to KESC under Abraaj).”

All these decisions and agreements have been possible not because the top managers are relatives of President Zardari but because they are so smart and competent, within days and weeks they have moved the mountains and forced the bureaucratic machine to move in their favour at top speed, so that when they take over the company fully, nothing is left to decide and they can concentrate on providing electricity to the people of Karachi now burning KESC bills and shouting slogans on Karachi streets.

This smart management is being paid a huge price for this job. According to KESC insiders the total bill of Mr Abbas and his 40 executives is the same US$ 8 million which was paid to Siemens for operation and maintenance contract by the Al-Jomaih Group. But Siemens was an operations company with engineers and equipment, while these 40 executives are managers with a few engineers but no equipment.

When Abraaj was asked about this huge monthly salary tabs, ranging from Rs 1 million at the lowest level to Rs 5 million for the chief executive, plus the perks, Abraaj’s written response was: “Compensation for the new management team has been approved by the Board of Directors of KESC and is paid by the company. The Government of Pakistan’s Directors have also approved the compensation to be paid to the CEO.”

But Abraaj refused to confirm or deny the figures saying: “Being a public company, the total salary costs for the CEO and the management team will be disclosed in the annual audited accounts but at this stage it is sufficient to say that they are competitive and commensurate with comparables available in the corporate sector of Pakistan.”

The statement, however said: “The numbers quoted by you are incorrect,” yet at another point in the statement, Abraaj says: “These individuals did not join KESC for salary inducements, rather they left lucrative professional careers elsewhere in order to be able to turnaround KESC and participate in a story that hopefully will have a beneficial impact on the lives of millions of people.”

This last statement is amusing as nowhere in the world any corporate executive leaves a lucrative job to “participate in a story” to impact millions of lives. That basically is politics.

Source: http://thenews.jang.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=18070

Totalitarian regime revisited

Now that Musharraf has gone, one would think that things will start to improve for Pakistan.. alas not at all.

The country has a severe leadership crisis. People have to choose between bad and worse…… such is the situation that former Mr 10% is going to become the President of the country. The people of Pakistan should brace themselves for a new civilian totalitarian regime.

In spite of fiercely supporting democracy and democratic institution, one just cannot ignore the sorry state of affairs where a totally unpopular person is going to become the President with the support of most political parties which are “upto no good” (history speaks for itself)

“The middle class and the elite both have a distaste for this man [Zardari], despite the fact that he’s never been convicted of anything,” said Mosharraf Zaidi, a political analyst. “He is guilty in the court of public opinion … If there was a direct election, there’s no question that Zardari would come in last.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/sep/06/pakistan

Not only people do not like him… he is so controversial, it appears highly unlikey he could represent the unity of the nations (as a President should in a parliamentary democracy)

Asif Zardari’s entry on Wikipedia is very instructive especially the section headed “Criminal charges and allegations”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asif_Ali_Zardari

Such is the character of this person that to avoid appearing before a court in a corruption case in London, he declared a false report declaring he was mentally imbalanced and could not travel. The case was dropped by Pakistan Government since his party took power (it does not surprise people how easy it is to get away scott free in a poor country). At the very least, he is ethically and morally too corrupt to hold a public office of any responsibility lest being the President of a country of 160 million people.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/2622123/Pakistan-presidential-candidate-Asif-Ali-Zardari-suffering-from-severe-mental-problems.html

We say false report because if the report is true, then Asif Zardari is clearly ineligible to be the President under the constitution of Pakistan.

Extracts from the Constitution:

41. (2) A person shall not be qualified for election as President unless he is a Muslim of not less than forty-five years of age and is qualified to be elected as member of the National Assembly.

63. (1) A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)(National Assembly) , if:-
(a) he is of unsound mind and has been so declared by a competent court

So, why is he gaining traction to become the President. Well, the answer lies in two things – first he is very cunning and second the following (hallmarks of a client state 🙂 )

Analysts say Zardari may be just the man for the job of managing the Pakistan-U.S. alliance. He is a former resident of New York’s affluent Upper East Side. He often chooses well-tailored two-piece suits over the traditional, loose-fitting salwar-kameez that is the de rigueur dress of politicians in this majority-Muslim nation.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/04/AR2008090403445.html?hpid=topnews

So a President is selected by the dress he wears….. what a farce!

And ……

Recent revelations of Zardari’s unauthorised telephone contact with senior Bush administration insider, Zalmay Khalilzad, seemed to confirm that he is rated in the White House.

“He [Zardari] is coming with the blessings of the Bush administration,” said Tariq Fatemi, a former Pakistani ambassador to Washington. “They feel he will provide a political face to the military operations.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/sep/06/pakistan

… Do I hear the same old wine with a new label ….

We hoped not to miss Musharraf and we still hope we won’t but eventually we may miss him (at least he was not personally corrupt).

In the eyes of independent experts:

While the PPP and its allies insist that Mr Zardari is ideally suited to lead Pakistan, his nomination has sparked widespread criticism. “Mr Zardari’s election is hardly the best thing for Pakistan in the circumstances,” said Farazana Shaikh of the think tank Chatham House. “In fact, I would be inclined to think that it is the worst thing when it desperately needs some semblance of consensus.”

Last month Mr Zardari backtracked on an agreement to reinstate the judges sacked by Mr Musharraf last year. The move wounded his popularity and led to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif withdrawing his support from the coalition government.

“It is demonstrated that he is not a man of his word,” added Ms Shaikh.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/bhuttorsquos-widower-to-replace-musharraf-as-pakistanrsquos-president-920632.html

Okay now that we have talked of doom and gloom, let’s hope that Zardari turns over a new leaf. He becomes a champion of democracy, and ensures Judiciary is restored with true independence and constitutional powers. Let’s hope that he moves this country forward and bring about the much sought Change (sounds familiar….US elections are always a great event to follow) this country needs.

After all, we have to start from somewhere…..

Where is Sanity

So, 83% of Pakistanis want the President out (according to International Republican Institute’s latest survey)

http://www.iri.org/newsarchive/2008/2008-07-17-News-Reuters-Pakistan.asp

But, he would not budge… what a stone…. 🙂 Democracy when it works in my favor is democracy, when it doesn’t, it is just ignorable…

Enough is enough
The country is in trough
Mushi; you’ve a thousand times fluffed
t’s time for you to take-off

(Anonymous)

Here is an interesting editorial laying out the options –

After President Pervez Musharraf’s meeting with leaders of the erstwhile King’s Party, the PMLQ, on Saturday, the only feasible option for the president is to resign and bow out of the political scene. The PMLQ secretary general, Mr Mushahid Hussain Syed, told the TV channels that his party had given him two choices; either fight the impeachment or resign and go home. Although it was not spelled out how he would fight the impeachment, one can interpret the message of the party only one way: the president has no choice but to stand down if he can’t get the army and ISI to back him up.

The other message his party delivered to the president was even more significant. It told him that it would not support the use of Article 58-2(b) to pre-emptively dismiss the government and the assemblies “because that would destabilise the country”. The president had already expressed his intent not to use the said article. What was the need on the part of the PMLQ to emphasise this point? One can only say that by coming clear on the use of the said article without the support of the military the two had drawn a red line in the contest developing between the coalition parties and the president. It means that the president has accepted the option of either going down or quitting but not pulling down the system to keep himself in power.

Fighting the impeachment the constitutional way is spelled out in the Constitution. The president has the right to come to the joint session of parliament and present his defence or refutation. The PMLQ and his supporters will be there in the joint session to cheer him. Beyond this point the legal way is enveloped in an interpretive fog. Can he go to court against the charges made in the impeachment document? While it is clear that the impeachers have to charge him on two counts, it is not clear who will adjudicate the rights and wrongs of this charge sheet. Someone has already gone to the Sindh High Court challenging the intent of the impeachment move!

People who conceive of constitutional matters in tight laboratory conditions will have to accept that not even the legally “pure” lawyers’ movement was possible without the political leg-up given it by civil society and the political parties that had vowed to unseat the president. One can say that even the old Supreme Court that restored Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry last year took a good look at the crowds gathering outside in the streets to say goodbye to the Doctrine of Necessity before taking what was essentially a political decision. The impeachment too is not purely a legalism. The political aspects of it are overwhelming and they are coming to the fore.

The politics of impeachment is heating up, menacing to the president in its vociferous claims. Mr Asif Ali Zardari says the coalition has 350 votes in favour of impeachment although the total votes belonging to the coalition in both the houses are less than 310. The impeachment requires 295; therefore the hype is clearly meant to create a “psychology of stampede” among changeable politicians and dishearten a beleaguered president. Anyone who knows Pakistani politicians will tell you that changing masters in a crisis is never a problem here. The PMLN says a deluge of PMLQ votes was straining to join the impeachment move. The PMLQ had done the same sort of thing after the PMLN government was overthrown in 1999.

The lawyers, whose leader Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan had reacted in an extreme manner to the sequencing of impeachment before restoration of the judges, have realised the serious dimensions of what is about to happen. The Lahore High Court Bar leader Mr Anwar Kamal, a person of high probity and legal competence, has welcomed the decision to impeach the president first. This means the lawyers’ movement may be inclined, during its rally on August 14, to accept the PPP’s stance that restoring the judges while the president was in place would be fraught with risks. It is important that the rehabilitation of the judiciary take place without any political rifts.

Unless the president wants an opportunity to finally face the parliament — which he has not been able to [for many years] address under the Constitution — and defend himself against the contents of the impeachment, he should call it quits. He can do that even on the floor of the parliament after having made his case. To that he would be entitled as a right of our future generations.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008811story_11-8-2008_pg3_1

Arcticle 47 of the Constitution:

47.  Removal or impeachment of President.
1 – Notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution, the President may, in accordance with the provisions of this Article, be removed from office on the ground of physical or mental incapacity or impeached on a charge of violating the Constitution or gross misconduct.
2 – Not less than one-half of the total membership of either House may give to the Speaker of the National Assembly or, as the case may be, the Chairman written notice of its intention to move a resolution for the removal of, or, as the case may be, to impeach, the President; and such notice shall set out the particulars of his incapacity or of the charge against him.]
3 – If a notice under clause (2) is received by the Chairman, he shall transmit it forthwith to the Speaker.
4 – The Speaker shall, within three days of the receipt of a notice under clause (2) or clause (3), cause a copy of the notice to be transmitted to the President.
5 – The Speaker shall summon the two Houses to meet in a joint sitting not earlier than seven days and not later than fourteen days after the receipt of the notice by him.
6 – The joint sitting may investigate or cause to be investigated the ground or the charge upon which the notice is founded.
7 – The President shall have the right to appear and be represented during the investigation, if any, and before the joint sitting.
8 – If, after consideration of the result of the investigation, if any, a resolution is passed at the joint sitting by the votes of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of [23][Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] declaring that the President is unfit to hold the office due to incapacity or is guilty of violating the Constitution or of gross misconduct, the President shall cease to hold office immediately on the passing of the resolution.

http://www.pakistani.org/pakistan/constitution/part3.ch1.html