- Just a can of worms, or an opportunity to cleanse the stables?
“Whoever commits a fraud is guilty not only of the particular injury to him who he deceives, but of the diminution of that confidence which constitutes not only the ease, but the existence of society.” -Samuel Johnson
There is one Uzair Baloch JIT report released by the government of Sindh. There is also this other JIT report which federal Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Zaidi claims has not been released because it would have destroyed the fortunes of some stalwarts of the People’s Party.
The two parts may actually be part of the same report as indicated on the first page of the version shown by Ali Zaidi. It states that “the JIT report comprises two parts. First part (duly signed by the chairman and all members of the JIT and submitted to the Home Department as per procedure in vogue) primarily deals with hard core criminal activities carried out by the accused involving political figures. Though these two parts and their activities are intermingled and overlapping, however, due to obvious implications and need to be further probed, part II is being kept confidential and not released/published as such in this report. Confidential part of the report will be produced as and when required/asked by the competent authority”.
Understandably, Ali is not willing to relent in the face of PPP leaders’ onslaught repudiating his claims. He has asked the Chief Justice to take suo motu notice of the case. Otherwise, he has vowed to file a petition before the apex court.
At best, the matter pertains to tampering with an official document to save the PPP leaders from severe embarrassment and possible punitive proceedings and, at worst, it encompasses fraud, forgery and an attempt to hide the facts from public, or presenting them in a manner that does not serve the cause of truth and justice. This may entail initiation of criminal cases against those held responsible.
Now that we don’t have the services of one Sherlock Holmes, the most appropriate forum to untangle the mystery is the apex court. In the process, the institution will have yet another opportunity to redeem itself and help people cultivate some faith in the justice system that is practised in the country. If a suo motu is not taken, it would prove yet again that the judges are not interested in changing the growing negative perception about their work and intent. By extension, it’ll also prove that they are not bothered about how individuals placed in positions of power conduct themselves in matters of law which do not fall within their private purview, thus proving that the judiciary may actually have nothing to do with providing justice.
By opening this can of worms, Ali Zaidi has done a great service to the state. It has been a convenient tradition that all such vile acts are pushed under the rug as part of clandestine deal-making to save the perpetrators. Here is an opportunity for the judiciary to erase some ugly scars from its face and establish the writ of the state by punishing the guilty without exception, as also their partners, aiders and abettors
Let’s also understand that the JIT report was not released voluntarily by the government of Sindh. In the wake of the initiation of contempt proceedings in the Sindh High Court, it had virtually run out of all possible options. This was further necessitated when Ali Zaidi waved a copy of his version of the report in the National Assembly and read from it certain parts which implicated the PPP leaders in the Karachi crime spree. So the report may also have been released to control the damage which had thus been inflicted on the PPP and its leadership.
This argument makes more sense if one views it in the context of difference/s between the reports released by the Sindh government and Ali Zaidi respectively. The main difference pertains to the people on whose orders Uzair Baloch committed murders and indulged in other monstrous acts. After naming Faryal Talpur, Qadir Patel, Zulfiqar Mirza, Nisar Morai, Yousaf Baloch, Sharjeel Memon among his friends, the report goes on to give a graphic description of how he committed innumerable heinous crimes on the instructions of these leaders.
Interestingly, these details are also contained in the confessional statement of Uzair Baloch recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The statement encapsulates in detail his interactions with senior PPP leaders, and how he committed abominable crimes on their behest. He goes on to record that he even left the country on the instructions of Faryal Talpur.
Now that, instead of one, we have landed up with two JIT reports, the challenge is to sort out which is genuine, or whether both are, except that one part was formally released by the government of Sindh and the other withheld to save the political careers of some of their party leaders. It can be said with a fair bit of certainty that the PPP would not do much further under the circumstances except reiterating that their version is the genuine one. But, this cannot be said about Ali Zaidi who would like to establish that his version is a bona fide part of a larger report which was not released by the Sindh government for fear of incurring political damage.
Quite obviously, the report made public by Ali Zaidi cannot be construed as irrelevant. There is speculation regarding who is responsible for handing it over to him. The PPP stalwarts and their supporters in the media are insinuating that the intelligence agencies may be involved in order to increase pressure on the party. This is a conscious effort which is quite in keeping with the traditional narrative that they would like to build– to skilfully play the innocents who are being assaulted by the establishment in collusion with PTI. The reason that Ali Zaidi gave regarding how he got hold of the report may strengthen the perception further. At some point in time, this may need to be clarified.
Now that the Sindh government version of the JIT report has been rendered doubtful, it is absolutely imperative that the case may be tried at some forum to skin the genuine from the fabricated and false. It is necessary for a number of reasons, the paramount one being that, for much too long now, facts have been hidden from the people of Pakistan, under one pretext or the other. In the present instance, it appears to be part of the stratagem of a political party to save the much-touted repute and honour of its leaders. The contents of Ali Zaidi’s version of the report establish that these leaders were involved in perpetrating some of the most detestable crimes in league with the likes of Uzair Baloch. If formally acclaimed as a legitimate part of the full report, it would not only diminish their political stature immensely, but would degrade them to the level of ruthless murderers, extortionists and land grabbers. That would be an immeasurable fall for these people whose involvement in multifaceted crime has not really been a secret.
By opening this can of worms, Ali Zaidi has done a great service to the state. It has been a convenient tradition that all such vile acts are pushed under the rug as part of clandestine deal-making to save the perpetrators. Here is an opportunity for the judiciary to erase some ugly scars from its face and establish the writ of the state by punishing the guilty without exception, as also their partners, aiders and abettors.
They must all be brought to justice. This report provides an occasion to establish the primacy of right over wrong, justice over injustice, accountability over lack of it and truth over falsehood.
Above all else, people must know the real faces of the leaders they vote for.