Standing naked in the court of the people | Pakistan Today

Standing naked in the court of the people

  • A masterstroke drums the opposition hollow

Candid Corner

It should be pointed out for our own guidance in the West that the continual signing of manifestoes and protests is one of the surest ways of undermining the efficacy and dignity of the intellectual. There exists a permanent blackmail that we all know and that we must have the often solitary courage to resist.”

                                                                                                                                                                            Albert Camus

This is how it was destined to end: not a whimper, but a heavy dose of sickeningly empty words, bloated with unremitting quotients of ego that members of the opposition are permanently afflicted with. That is what makes them what they are: crudely unprincipled charlatans taking turns at defending the criminal ventures of their political masters at looting and plundering the state to its mere bones.

There were some FATF-related bills which had to be passed before August 5 so that Pakistan could make the plea to be removed from the grey list. There was also a NAB-related bill which has been pending for a considerable period of time with suggestions going back and forth across the divide. The grave mistake the opposition made was to see its chance to blackmail the government in a matter that pertained to the state. The other miscalculation was about the resolve and determination of Prime Minister Khan in the matter of continuing the process of accountability, even making it more effective. So, when the opposition conglomerate pushed the case beyond a certain point, the government refused to be nudged and, instead, called a joint session of the Parliament to get the bills through.

Having failed miserably in their attempt to politically blackmail the government, the opposition was left with no chance but to eat humble pie and agree to extend support in the passage of the bills through the Senate. Yet again, this brings across the marked difference between two mindsets. There is one that rules the opposition. This is the product of a policy that emanates from the conviction that everyone is corrupt or corruptible and all one has to do is to look for a vulnerable time to push home their vile agenda. The other mindset is the one that is rooted in some cardinal principles which are not to be compromised, no matter what the consequences. This is the mindset that the Prime Minister has and this is the big difference that separates the government from the opposition at this critical juncture when Pakistan is transiting to a realm of promise and hope.

The episode is no small testament of the Prime Minister’s deep commitment to uphold the interest of the state under all circumstances and his political sagacity in playing a smart game to lay bare the opposition’s motives and machinations for everyone to see. In the subsequent public engagements of the leaders of the opposition, one could see the guilt writ large on their faces, and no amount of hollering and yelling could hide it. This was a battle of wits and tactics. They had lost at both. They were literally checkmated.

There aren’t many who can actually understand this difference. For decades, leaders have fed themselves on a rather succulent dish that, if they had money, they could buy everyone. The Sharifs are the original architects of this ugly and disgusting stratagem which did wonders both for their careers and pockets: they used their money to get into seats of power and then used the power of the office they occupied to make billions of illicit funds. The other parties were not left behind. One such pack was led by the People’s Party whose leaders are on record to having stated that there can be no politics in Pakistan without money. So, the husband was appointed the Minister for Investment and the inflow of illicit capital into their personal coffers was unstoppable.

What are the amendments that the combined opposition wanted to incorporate in the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance? The space may not allow for a detailed discussion, but a mention of a few will tell you the felonious motivations that were at play in proposing them.

The first amendment concerned the demand for applicability of the ordinance from no earlier than 16 November  1999. This, inter alia, meant that all cases preceding this date (between 1985 and 1999) would become null and void, including the Panama verdict, and convict Nawaz Sharif would be cleansed of his crimes to proclaim his innocence.

The proposed amendments in section 4 included limiting its applicability to cases where the loss to the federal government/provincial governments was not less than Rs one billion; it would not apply where the public office holder did not benefit materially; it would not be relevant in matters which fell within the purview of regulatory bodies, and offences under money laundering should be excluded from the NAB jurisdiction. These amendments are contrary to the Supreme Court directive, they limit the scope of corruption and most of the regulatory bodies lack the capacity to handle these crimes.

Then there is a key amendment proposed which states that evidence transferred to Pakistan by any foreign government should not be treated as evidence. While this amendment is person-specific and meant to provide relief to their corrupt leaders who have laundered huge amounts of illicitly-gained funds to foreign lands, it is also contrary to the UN Convention on Corruption.

So, in essence, these amendments were not meant to empower the NAB to conduct speedy and fair investigation to punish the criminals, but to completely defang it and turn it into a powerless institution. So, palpable mala fide was visible in all the proposed amendments. Consequently, they were not practical as their adoption would have been tantamount to burying the very concept of accountability.

In Pakistan, financial corruption has often led to a variety of gruesome crimes. Eliminating opponents, even hijacking a political party on the basis of a fake document projected as the will of the deceased, are just a couple of them. The worst of all was the brutal destruction of institutions of the state by staffing them with cronies and bootleggers who were indoctrinated to hide all traces of the massive corruption spree perpetrated by the leaders of the time. This is exactly what the combined opposition wants to do to the working of the NAB now. They want to make it completely dysfunctional so that not only they would be able to get a clearance Certificate for all their past crimes, they would also, if given a chance, continue to indulge their gory penchant in the future.

Seeing the preposterous amendments, the Prime Minister put his foot down and called a joint session of Parliament for the next day. That’s when the opposition parties started having palpitations. They understood that, instead of being able to exploit the government, it was they who were standing naked in the court of the people. Their treacherous game plan had been busted in broad daylight and they did not have a place to hide their faces. So, their choice was simple: either oppose the amendments proposed by the government and be counted among people who were against getting Pakistan out of the FATF grey list or, notwithstanding their venomous opposition till the day of the voting, join the government unashamedly in passing the proposed amendments. That’s how the cookie crumbled.

The episode is no small testament of the Prime Minister’s deep commitment to uphold the interest of the state under all circumstances and his political sagacity in playing a smart game to lay bare the opposition’s motives and machinations for everyone to see. In the subsequent public engagements of the leaders of the opposition, one could see the guilt writ large on their faces, and no amount of hollering and yelling could hide it. This was a battle of wits and tactics. They had lost at both. They were literally checkmated.

The day and honour belong to Prime Minister Khan. This has been another great innings. Well played, skipper!

The writer is a political analyst and the Executive Director of the Regional Peace Institute. He can be reached at: [email protected]; Twitter: @RaoofHasan.



5 Comments

  1. Shashikant Oak said:

    Dear Sir, It seems that Danda of Military Power was at the bottom of this change of face!

    • Shermin said:

      What’s the end result of all this exercise? Deep level state intervention surely sends great signals abroad.

  2. Habib Khan said:

    I have to congratulate you Raoof Sb.This was an article of a deep understanding of those corrupt minds.A wonderful effort to bring those ugly tricks into public light.By the way Shahid Masud sent me this piece,I have to thank him as well.We met last December in Islamabad over our friend Khurram Qadir’s book introduction event.I was visiting & was invited to your home but unfortunately could not join.Will always remember that hospitality.All the best.

  3. Sahika said:

    Honestly, this man is as much a day dreamer as his Master Khan. Why are former leaders being exonerated by Apex Court if only Khan is honest?

  4. Shermin said:

    Raoof, don’t be so shameless that you’ve lost all of your integrity following transfer of cash to your account.

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