Political cleans­ing through ac­count­abil­ity

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Dr Farid A Malik

PAK­ISTAN needs political cleans­ing. So far all at­tempts to this ef­fect have been fu­tile. The main flaw has been in the ap­proach and lack of an ef­fec­tive frame­work, where there has to be a con­sti­tu­tional mech­a­nism that must be fol­lowed across the board. In Oc­to­ber 1958, Ayub Khan im­posed the first mar­tial law in the name of re­forms. He even ab­ro­gated the unan­i­mously passed 1956 con­sti­tu­tion. His Elected Bod­ies Dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion Or­di­nance (EBDO) knocked out the en­tire political lead­er­ship of the coun­try.

Wali Khan and Qayyum Khan were prom­i­nent political lead­ers of that era. In the words of Wali Khan, "we never ac­cused Qayyum Khan of cor­rup­tion, though we had ma­jor ide­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences nei­ther did he ever point at us. Even the last Gov­er­nor Gen­eral (GG) and first Pres­i­dent Ba­boo/Maj Gen­eral (Hon­orary) Iskan­der Mirza were not in­volved in il­le­gal ac­cu­mu­la­tion of wealth. In his ex­ile in Lon­don he led a very sim­ple life and then even­tu­ally per­ished there leav­ing be­hind no em­pire.

When Gen­eral Ayub Khan de­clared him­self to be the Pres­i­dent, his son Capt. (R) Go­har Ayub Khan had a scooter loan but within a few years he was a lead­ing in­dus­tri­al­ist. The first political man­sion on the hill near the Mar­riott Ho­tel was also built in that pe­riod. Af­ter the death of the dic­ta­tor the prop­erty was sold and the pro­ceeds dis­trib­uted amongst his heirs. It is now the Hash­wani House in Is­lam­abad. Plots and per­mits were doled out to fa­vorites at will. Jus­tice Cor­nelius was also given a plot for his ser­vice to the coun­try. He re­fused to ac­cept the favour with a re­turn note: 'I never ap­plied for a plot as I do not need it'. He lived in Faletti's Ho­tel all his life. Af­ter his death Jus­tice Jawad Khawaja handed over the room to the ho­tel man­age­ment. His worldly be­long­ings in­cluded one suit case and a few photo frames.

In­stead of re­forms, Ayub Khan de­formed the so­ci­ety and pro­duced a new class of 'Per­mit Hold­ers'. Pak­istan be­came a na­tion of have and have nots. The first free and fair elec­tion of 1970 cleansed the political arena and gen­uine lead­er­ship emerged. While Ayub Khan ab­ro­gated the 1956 con­sti­tu­tion, Zul­fiqar Ali Bhutto pre­sented a new ver­sion in 1973. De­spite ma­jor in­cur­sions the doc­u­ment has sur­vived. Both Zia and Mushar­raf tried to tam­per with this con­tract be­tween the peo­ple and the State but it out­lived then.

For its sur­vival a coun­try must fol­low the con­sti­tu­tion. There are laid down pro­vi­sions that en­sure check and bal­ance. In or­der to con­test elec­tions can­di­dates have to meet cer­tain cri­te­ria. Loan and tax de­fault­ers stand au­to­mat­i­cally dis­qual­i­fied. In the nineties, Pres­i­dent Fa­rooq Leghari es­tab­lished the ' Eht­esab Bureau' af­ter dis­miss­ing the govern­ment of his own party. He promised political cleans­ing but then backed out un­der pres­sure and fear of political group­ing.

Af­ter the Nawaz Sharif land­slide the 'Eht­esab Bureau' came un­der Sai­fur Rehman who used to run a small med­i­cal store at Mozang Chungi (Zubair Medi­cos). Both father and son sold medicine across the coun­try. Per­haps Mian Sahib val­ued this ex­pe­ri­ence so much that he was made the 'Ac­count­abil­ity Czar'. Mushar­raf then cre­ated the Na­tional Ac­count­abil­ity Bureau (NAB) in 1999 which was headed by the khakis. Chair­man NAB was given pow­ers to ar­rest for upto ninety days, in­ves­ti­gate and then file ref­er­ences against the ac­cused. It was then upto the courts to con­vict and award pun­ish­ments. In­stead of ac­count­abil­ity (NAB) was used for witch­hunts and political arm twist­ing. Two of the Gen­er­als re­signed in protest (Am­jad, Shahid) as in­di­vid­u­als who were be­ing in­ves­ti­gated were in­ducted into the cab­i­nets; it was a sce­nario of prison to power through NAB more like cor­rup­tion laun­der­ing.

In the char­ter of democ­racy (COD) signed by PPP and PML (N) across the board ac­count­abil­ity was promised but never de­liv­ered. From Jin­nah's (1947 to 1958) to Sharif's, Pak­istan has moved from al­most zero to to­tal cor­rup­tion with col­lapse of in­sti­tu­tions. In the name of ac­count­abil­ity crimes have been com­mit­ted against the peo­ple of the coun­try. So far there has been only one elec­tion in 1970 where will of the peo­ple has pre­vailed and ac­count­abil­ity through bal­lot en­sured. Ac­count­abil­ity through bal­lot is a tried and trusted ap­proach, but un­for­tu­nately be­tween 1977 and 2013, ten elec­tions have been ma­nip­u­lated to deny this demo­cratic right of the elec­torate. Be­fore the elec­tions in 1977 ZAB cre­ated an Elec­tion Cell within ISI to mon­i­tor the elec­toral process. It was this very cell that re­ported vic­tory with sim­ple ma­jor­ity for PPP to be de­cided to ma­nip­u­late the process for ab­so­lute ma­jor­ity.

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