- Scant details on the NCA seizure and repatriation of funds
For a party which has virtually made a creed of the ‘money trail’ and which has been so emphatic about the necessity of accountability, the respect it is showing for Malik Riaz’s confidentiality agreement is not only surprising but also suspicious. The shield of the confidentiality agreement is not really large enough for the government to hide behind, for it leaves a number of very pertinent questions unanswered. There is a legitimate demand for the money trail, which led to the surrender of £190 million (about Rs 38.6 billion) by Malik Riaz to the UK’s National Crime Agency, and the NCA then remitting the money to the government of Pakistan for it to be supposedly used to settle the Supreme Court fine of Rs 460 billion Bahria Town has agreed to pay.
Selling off a property in the UK has raised part of the money, but the question then arises about how that property was bought. How was that money sent abroad? There is also the credibility issue raised by this, because the government’s silence is diametrically opposed to the way it normally trumpets even the most minor of achievements. Actual cash recovered, such a large sum, and the involvement, however tangential, of a member of the Sharif clan– how could the PTI refrain from commenting at length, confidentiality agreement or no agreement?
That silence raises other suspicions. The first is that Malik Riaz has bought the silence, or at least impressed the PTI government enough with his wealth to make it respect the confidentiality agreement. Then there is the possibility that any full disclosure would lead to the outing of people presently close to the government. Unless someone comes up with an honest and full explanation of such aspects of the case as what exactly did Malik Riaz admit he did, this whole affair will continue to haunt the government. It should not think the matter is over. While this payment is large, it is only a small fraction of what Malik Riaz has to pay. That means that every time he makes a payment, this issue will be revived. The government cannot make this go away, except by coming clean.