Nabbing the corrupt
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.