former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto
Seminar, Lahore, May 30, 1997
Honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Pakistan is facing economic
hardship. This is due to the following factors:
1. Drying up of foreign aid amounting to more
than $4.2 billion.
Supply side economics practised by three P.M.L regimes since
Dollarisation of the economy introduced by the first Nawaz Sharif
regime with the passage of the Finance Act 1992.
Commercial loans taken for the motorway and other such luxurious
projects by the Nawaz Sharif regime between 1990-1993.
Increase of debt in ratio to G.D.P due to dollarisation and commercial
High population growth rate.
Lack of investment in the social sectors.
Failure to transfer from textile state to a software state keeping in
mind the global trends;
Targeting agriculture which has been the main stay of the economy.
In times of hardship and
adversity, the public at large resents ostentatious living by the
rich and the privileged.
Since much of the wealth acquired by the rich
and privileged is through corrupt means, the public at large has risen
around the banner of anti-corruption.
Most of the corrupt money is due to bank
defaulters, tax evaders, drug smugglers, arms smugglers, land allotment
and demarcation and contracts for purchases or building purposes.
The question before us today is whether the
Nawaz Sharif regime has responded to the public demands or not.
I would say NOT.
Instead the Nawaz regime has used the brutal
majority in the Parliament to give cover to the most corrupt elements
while using the slogan of corruption to victimise its political opponents
and impose a one party dictatorship in Pakistan.
Let us address specific cases of
massive criminal cover-up by the Nawaz regime:
a) . Nawaz Sharif was accused by his
relatives of plundering the family wealth. The prosecution colluded with
Nawaz defence to protect the plunders of the family wealth.
b) . According to the State Bank Report, the Prime Ministerís family
stood as the Nationís highest defaulters covering more than Rs. 5
Billion to the Pakistani Banks.
The State Bank Report was presented to the
National Assembly in September 1996 (it also showed family members of
President Leghari as defaulters but not one family member of Prime
Minister Benazir Bhutto).
Since assuming Office, the PML-N regime has threatened bank officials,
ironically with the sword of "accountability" to
"whiten" the 5 Billion Rupees it owes to the Banks.
According to newspaper reports, the Nawaz
Sharif family has sued the banks for billions.
As the prosecutor and the defendant are one
and the same (Nawaz Sharif) it appears that the Nawaz Sharif family hopes
to get away with the billions of rupees in tax payers money unless there
is a re-trial.
The income tax authorities that detected
massive tax evasion by Nawaz Sharif family have been suspended, ironically
on the grounds of being corrupt.
When the prosecution and the defaulters are
one and the same, the honest can be declared corrupt, the corrupt honest,
and corruption can thrive to the detriment of Pakistanís name, honour,
prestige, economy and people.
On May 27, 1997 the High Court of Lahore
headed by Justice Ejaz Nisar who, co-incidentally was promoted to the
Supreme Court, a day later, acquitted Nawaz Sharif in the Houdaibia
Engineering Works scandal. The Pakistan Peoples Party has demanded the
re-trial of Mr. Nawaz Sharif in the scandal.
It is one more demonstration of how the
prosecution and the defence colluded to get the Nawaz Sharif family off
Of course no action has been taken against
the relatives of President Farooq Legahri who were shown as bank
defaulters by the independent and autonomous State Bank of Pakistan .
Despite massive new taxes, the Caretaker
regime of President Leghari and the one party state of Nawaz Sharif has
gathered less monthly revenues for Pakistan than the democratically
elected government of Benazir Bhutto.
The Pakistan Peoples Party has demanded that
the Chief Justice of Pakistan constitute a high level judicial
inquiry for Ehtisaab of missing billions, some say missing hundreds of
billions between Rs. 124 -160 billions which are the expected revenue
It is a very serious matter if the Benazir
government recovered more per month for Pakistan with less taxes and the
Leghari - Nawaz regime acquired less per month with more taxes. That means
over a hundred billion is embezzled.
No wonder the debt to GDP ratio which had
fallen under the Benazir government has again risen.
This is the most serious corruption.
But it is getting the least attention .
The heart of matter is that the problem of
corruption can never be solved unless the following steps are taken.
a) . All those with dollar accounts are asked
to account for the source of their income.
b) . All those with Bearer Bonds are asked to account for their income.
When Pakistan boosts money laundering
schemes, when stinking corrupt, black money is given sanctity and
protection under the dollars accounts and bearer certificates, we will
never be able to tackle the problem of corruption.
It will remain a hollow slogan and a
convenient sword for a political agenda of victimisation, persecution and
politics of distortion and dis-information.
There is one more need.
That is to separate the prosecution from the
When the Defence and the Investigation and
Prosecution are all answerable to the government, then collusion will take
place. The corrupt will go scot free and the honest will be punished as
part of the political agenda.
As Prime Minister I had proposed in the National Assembly that a special
parliamentary committee should be formed by the leader of the House and
the leader of the Opposition with equal representation.
The Investigative and Prosecution teams
should be chosen by this committee so that there is a check and balance.
The then opposition declined my offer. I made
it because I had nothing to hide.
I again propose:- let the present Prime
Minister and the former Prime Minister form a committee with equal
Let each of us pick teams of investigators
and prosecutors and let us bring the charges against each other in an even
handed and just manner.
And let these teams have security of tenure
and guaranteed protection so that undue pressure can not be applied on
And let the dollar accounts and FEBCs have no
Then and then only will we be able to
differentiate between clear money and dirty money.
With the collusion of investigative
prosecution and defence, the judicial system cannot convict the ruling
With the collusion of dependent
investigation, prosecution and Judges whose tenure lies in one hand, false
cases can be fabricated.
The promotion of judges should also depend
not on partisan consideration but on bi-partisan consideration based on an
independent and defined criteria.
After all judges are only human. Even if not
consciously, unconsciously they are affected when handling matters about
prospects of promotions and post retirement jobs.
As we have seen, judges today can also become
Surely this must be a good development but
when a judge who exonerated the Nawaz Sharif regime of the co-operatives
scandal is made a Senator, eye-brows will be raised.
Therefore the appointment and promotion of
judges should also be made by a committee with equal representation by:
i). The leader of the House
ii). The leader of the Opposition
iii). The Chief Justice of Supreme Court accompanied by the senior Judges
of Supreme Court or the senior Judges of the concerned High Court as the
case may be.
iv). The President of the Pakistan Bar Council or Provincial Bar
Councils as the case may be.
This committee should consider names only
according to an established criteria. Without necessary reforms the public
disenchantment will grow with the executive, with the judiciary and with
the intelligence agencies, which have been involved in a partisan
This will lead to a collapse of institutions.
The revolutions in Iran and Afghanistan have had an impact on the region.
Unless we deal with the corruption issue
squarely and justly and unless we reform our systems and structure, the
public at large will become cynical, alienated, dis-enchanted and turn
away from moderate, democratic leaders who have failed in their duties.
Now I would like to turn to the anti corruption drive we have witnessed in
the last hundred days.
First there has been the massive cover up
which I have already talked about.
Next comes the programme of political agenda
of persecution in the pursuit of a one party state.
Action has been claimed through a media
trial, torture by intelligence agencies of sleep deprivation and
disorientation, and repeated arrests against some of the following:
i). Asif Ali Zardari, twice elected MNA,
twice a cabinet minister, Senator elect, spouse of the former Prime
Minister. Called the king of corruption he has not been charged with one
corruption crime. Twice freed by the courts, he has been kept behind the
bars for seven months.
The Investigating Agencies are investigating:
a). Whether he killed his brother-in-law.
Four investigating officers; two SDMs and four judges have been changed
for refusing to frame him;
b). For sending abroad personal affects which
did not belong to him and which any way is not a criminal offence.
The Investigation has been stuck up for seven
months because the FIA do not know whether the MD at the time was Farooq
Umar or Mr. Tiwana
Are we expected to believe this? Or are
investigating agencies deliberately delaying the case in the hope of
"breaking" of few people into fabricating evidence in exchange
ii). Mr. Hakim Ali Zardari, father-in-law,
thrice elected member of Parliament since 1970, former Chairman of the
Public Accounts Committee and the Finance Committee, head of the Zardari
tribe. Arrested, thrown behind bars. Released by court. Case being
investigated? The one for which he was acquitted three years ago when
Nawaz Sharif regime No. 1 was in Office.
iii). Munawar Talpur, brother-in-law, Member of Parliament five times, son
of an elected member of Parliament. Belongs to one of the oldest family of
Sindh. Locked up in police custody sent to Hyderabad jail. Hand cuffed
even though the Ehtesaab Commission has not ordered his arrest.
iv). Ms Naheed Khan Political Secretary
and close aide of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Arrested twice. Sleep
deprivation, torture. Involved in third case of giving jobs in PIA.
Considering that all jobs have been given according to a laid down
procedure, one presumes that the precedent is being set to haul up the
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff formerly Chairman of PIA and the present
Prime Minister. Not charged with corruption.
v). Ahmad Sadiq, Principal Secretary to the
Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Arrested and bailed out thrice, harassed,
hounded persecuted, this 65 years old official has been victimised
repeatedly to make him give false statements . Not charged with
vi). Jamote & Najam, government official
charged with not making money but fixing jobs.
vii). Najamuddin Sheikh, Foreign Secretary
under Benazir Bhutto. Out of job because he was appointed by Benazir
Bhutto. Penalised as part of political agenda.
viii). Zafar A. Hilaly, Addll. Secretary
Foreign Affairs, appointed by Benazir Bhutto. Out of job and penalised as
a part of political persecution.
ix). Masood Sharif, head of Intelligence
Bureau under Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Sleep deprivation torture,
imprisoned to get him to frame Asif Zardari. Arrested not on corruption
but murder investigation. Political persecution.
x). DIG Shoaib Siddle, SSP Wajid Durani and
others who brought peace to Karachi and saved Pakistan , suspended or
arrested because they happened to be posted in routine to the wrong place
at a wrong time.
Charge - not corruption but investigation for murder of Mir Murtaza
Bhutto. Persecuted in the hope that they might help the regime, fabricate
a case to protect the killers of Murtaza Bhutto.
Suspended or imprisoned for seven long months
as part of the political vendetta.
xi). Mrs. Raana Sheikh, MD, PTV sacked from Pakistan Television as a
sop to extremist elements. Being threatened with false cases for liberal
television coverage. Political persecution.
xii).Wajid Shamsul Hassan, former High
Commissioner to Her Majestyís Court. Twice freed by the courts but not
the authorities. He, who got the Labour Party in Britain to make solution
of Kashmir dispute part of its agenda, punished and penalised for being a
Benazir appointee. Suffering from diabetes, kidney and heart problems.
Denied medical treatment. Political persecution.
xiii). Ghulam Asghar, head of FIA, suspended
on non specified corruption charges, as a sop to extremist elements
because he extradited Ramzi Yousaf of the New York Trade Centre Bombing.
vix). Rehman Malik, Addl. Director General FIA, arrested to satisfy
extremist, for extradited Ramzi Yousaf. In prison for seven months for
allegedly stealing one car. Man who led anti-corruption drive of PPP
against Nawaz Sharif and PML. Political persecution.
xv). Zafar Leghari, former Minister,
from Chief Minister Sindhís home district. So called accountability to
settle district politics scores.
xvi). Nisar Khuhro, leader of opposition in
Sindh Assembly, charge with murder of a man who died of a heart attack.
Corruption or political persecution.
These are some examples - but they are at the
heart of the so called anti-corruption drive.
It is obvious that each one of them is
related to or worked for the former Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir
The public have right to say cover up and
vendetta in the name of accountability.
The public have a right to be dismayed.
There are three other cases worth mentioning.
Senator Saifur Rehmanís investigation into
a so called sex scandal. This raises moral questions and valid political
Is the purpose of Saifur Rehman
Accountability Cell to inquire into bank defaulters, tax invaders and
corrupt elements or is the purpose to inquire into private lives of
If so should not Qazi Hussain Ahmad be made
incharge of the Sex Scandal Cell in the Prime Ministerís Secretariat so
that the colourful character in the Prime Ministerís team can also be
Or is the purpose of Senator Saifur Rehman
and the intelligence agencies (whom he is using and abusing) to
fulfil a political agenda of persecution, a campaign of dis information
and distortion, and a massive criminal cover up of real corruption.
The two cases of corruption that seven months
have thrown up are the Nayyer Bari case and the Schon Group case.
If the FIA has indeed found Rs. 1 billion in
Bariís account, as reported in the media, why has the case not been
As far as the Schon Group is concerned,
it was lavishly favoured by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Nawaz-1
The regime should disclose what the Schon
Group got from Nawaz-1 and Benazir-2. This will clearly show who favoured
The Schon Group was not the only group to
whom Nawaz gave public sector units. List of all those that Nawaz-1 gave
public sector units should be published to show real picture. Many of them
did not pay their instalments. In the case of Suraj Ghee Mills, they shut
the Factory, abandoned the workers and fled with the money.
The Schon Group is a respected business group
of Pakistan. If any thing it should have a grudge against the PPP. The
Schon Group got EXIM Bank approval, such is its international standing,
for the financing of an oil refinery. It was unable to build the oil
refinery despite EXIM Bank backing because the banks in Pakistan did not
help and the Benazir government did not interfere in the workings of
To sum up the hundred days of the Nawaz
Sharif regime, one would conclude that there is no attempt to eliminate
In fact corrupt practices are being whitened.
And political opponents persecuted
To end corruption we need
1. Reform of judiciary.
2. Bipartisan leadership of prosecution and investigation to prevent
3. End of money laundering schemes.