Nab­bing the cor­rupt

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL -

OVER the last few months, a large num­ber of mid­dle and high level politi­cians and bu­reau­crats in­volved in fi­nan­cial scan­dals worth bil­lions of public money have been ar­rested in Karachi. The latest catch - and the big­gest of them all - is Dr Asim Hus­sain who has been taken into cus­tody by the Rangers on charges of mega cor­rup­tion in­volv­ing PPP's Cochair­per­son Asif Zar­dari. Dr Asim Hus­sain, a for­mer ad­viser to the PM on petroleum and na­tional re­sources, is a close aide to Asif Ali Zar­dari. Sig­nif­i­cantly, the ac­tion came a day af­ter Chief of Army Staff Gen­eral Ra­heel Sharif had di­rected the author­i­ties to break the "evil nexus be­tween ter­ror­ism, crim­i­nal mafias, vi­o­lence and cor­rup­tion" to achieve the ob­jec­tive of en­sur­ing a peace­ful and terror-free Karachi. Dr Asim, the owner of a univer­sity in Karachi, has been specif­i­cally ac­cused of cor­rup­tion in the LNG and LPG deals while he in­dis­crim­i­nately is­sued li­cences for CNG sta­tions. He is also ac­cused of money laun­der­ing and land grab­bing. For­mer home min­is­ter Sindh Dr Zul­fiqar Mirza had also ear­lier ac­cused Dr Asim Hus­sain of indulging in large scale cor­rup­tion.

In a re­lated de­vel­op­ment, the Fed­eral Anti-Cor­rup­tion Court has is­sued non­bail­able ar­rest war­rants against for­mer PPP prime min­is­ter Yusuf Raza Gi­lani and for­mer fed­eral min­is­ter Makhdoom Amin Fahim. Both are ac­cused of mas­sive cor­rup­tion in the han­dling of funds be­long­ing to the Trade De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity of Pak­istan. The se­nior PPP lead­ers are ac­cused of be­ing in­volved in ap­prov­ing and dis­burs­ing fraud­u­lent trade sub­si­dies of mil­lions of ru­pees to sev­eral fake com­pa­nies through fic­ti­tious claims and back­dated cheques. Author­i­ties in charge of the Karachi op­er­a­tion have also pre­pared le­gal doc­u­ments to in­ves­ti­gate sev­eral key politi­cians, for­mer gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and in­flu­en­tial busi­ness­men ac­cused of fi­nan­cial cor­rup­tion and graft in Sindh. Ac­cord­ing to in­tel­li­gence sources, red war­rants have been pre­pared for for­mer pro­vin­cial min­is­ter Syed Owais Muzaf­far, for­mer ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter Mazharul Haq and sev­eral oth­ers.

All the ev­i­dences col­lected so far and con­fes­sions made by the de­tained PPP mem­bers and of­fi­cials di­rectly lead to Bi­lawal House. This has given rise to spec­u­la­tion that the ar­rest of Zar­dari could fol­low soon. Apart from highly in­cen­di­ary ac­cu­sa­tions by Zar­dari's for­mer col­league and friend Dr Zul­fikar Mirza, there is also the case of Uzair Baloch, a Lyari gang­ster ar­rested some months ago, who has re­port­edly al­ready named Zar­dari in con­nec­tion with a num­ber of mur­der cases. Not sur­pris­ingly, the PPP has cried foul, and its key lead­ers have hurled dire threats if the gov­ern­ment took any ac­tion against Asif Ali Zar­dari. Speak­ing to the media in Is­lam­abad last week Op­po­si­tion Leader in the Na­tional Assem­bly Syed Khur­sheed Shah said that any ac­tion against Asif Ali Zar­dari by fed­eral in­sti­tu­tions "will in­sti­gate a war". A po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion is de­vel­op­ing in Sindh. In the last eight years the po­lit­i­cal big­wigs of the province, in­clud­ing both PPP and MQM, have bled the province white. But now that law has swung into ac­tion, the is­sue of vic­tim­iza­tion of Sindh is be­ing raised.

Sens­ing the ugly mood of PPP lead­ers who have also at­tacked the PMLN gov­ern­ment for the ac­tion in Karachi, PM Nawaz Sharif has re­port­edly di­rected the con­cerned author­i­ties to go soft on PPP. Since the NAB has launched an anti-cor­rup­tion drive in Punjab as well, the rul­ing party in Punjab it­self may be ap­pre­hen­sive of ac­tion against its cor­rupt min­is­ters and of­fi­cials. In this back­ground, the pos­si­bil­ity of the two ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties join­ing hands against the Es­tab­lish­ment's at­tempt to cleanse the po­lit­i­cal Augean Sta­bles can­not be ruled out.

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