Saturday, February 28, 2009

History of Pakistani Dirty Politics of 90s - 2

On Wed, 2/25/09, Emergency Moderator/Teeth Maestro wrote:

Sharif brothers declared ineligible for Elections Posted by Teeth Maestro February 25,2009

On Sat, 2/28/09, Jimmy Jumshade wrote:

They have created an unwanted crisis already when there is so much other crisis going on. Bloody Weirdos..... ......and Shareef brothers should have been disqualified & not allowed to participate in elections a year ago.....not after they have been in Office for a year.This is just a big time power-grab.

Excerpts from ISLAMIC PAKISTAN: ILLUSIONS & REALITY By Abdus Sattar Ghazali:

The author is a professional journalist, with Master's degree in Political Science from the Punjab University. Started his journalistic career as a sub-editor in the daily Bang-e-Haram, Peshawar in 1960. Later worked in the daily Anjam and the Tourist weekly Peshawar. Served as a News Editor in the Daily News, Kuwait from 1969 to 1976. Joined the English News Department of Kuwait Television as a News Editor in December 1976. Also worked as the correspondent of the Associated Press of Pakistan and the Daily Dawn, Karachi, in Kuwait. At present working as the Editor-in-Chief of the Kuwait Television English News.


The Nawaz-Ishaq dyarchy worked till early 1993. Both had allegedly protected each other in their corrupt practices, bungling public money and above all keeping Benazir Bhutto and her PPP at bay.[11] The President lost all patience when Nawaz Sharif addressed the Senate in March 1993, seeking the repeal of the 8th amendment. He decided that Nawaz Sharif must go, and to achieve this goal, he prepared ground by encouraging pliable MPs to resign from the Assembly. His emissaries contacted Benazir Bhutto, whom he kept on the run ever since he dismissed her government. Benazir's government, which was brushed out as "corrupt" by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan on Aug. 6, 1990, was washed spotlessly clean. All pending court cases against her and her husband were suddenly forgotten for making the ouster of Nawaz Sharif successful.

On the evening of 17th April 1993, Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif addressed the nation on TV and radio. It was an emotional address wherein he alleged, inter-alia, that disgruntled political elements were working against his government, hatching conspiracies to destablize it and trying to undo all the good work he was trying to do. All this, he alleged, was being done under the patronage of the President of Pakistan. He ended his speech with the following challenging words: "I will not resign; I will not dissolve the National Assembly and I will not be dictated."

Barely 24 hours after this challenging address was delivered, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan called a press conference on the evening of 18th April 1993, to declare that the speech of the Prime Minister and other acts of his government had convinced him that the government of the federation could not be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. The President also cited "maladministration, corruption, and nepotism and espousal of political violence", in dismissing the Sharif government. The President appointed Balakh Sher Mazari as the interim Prime Minister.

After the dismissal of Nawaz Sharif, for a brief period Benazir Bhutto became the most influential person in determining the composition of the caretaker cabinet during April-May 1993. In the caretaker government, not only Asif Zardari as Benazir's husband was included, but sons of some of the Sindhi leaders as well as the son-in-law of the president were included. Even the supporters of Benazir criticized her bitterly for unwholesome influence of her husband. Thus, a Pakistan People's Party supporter complained bitterly, "This politics of husbands, sons, sons-in-laws and brothers is really sickening." [12]

A week later Nawaz Sharif filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the dismissal order of the President. On May 26, 1993, a full bench of the Supreme Court gave an almost unanimous (10:1) verdict, holding that President Ghulam Ishaq Khan had acted unlawfully in dissolving the National Assembly and dismissing the Nawaz government. The Supreme Court announced: "On merits by majority (of 10 to 1) we hold that the order of the 18th April, 1993, passed by the President of Pakistan is not within the ambit of the powers conferred on the President under Article 58(2)(b) of the constitution and other enabling powers available to him in that behalf and has, therefore, been passed without lawful authority and is of no legal effect." The chief justice of the supreme court took the view that the president and not the prime minister had been instrumental in subverting the spirit of the constitution because "the president had ceased to be a neutral figure and started to align himself with his opponents and was encouraging them in their efforts to destablize his government." The Supreme Court decision itself, while open to criticism because throughout the proceedings it seemed as if the judges had already made up their minds,[13] upheld the supremacy of the constitution besides narrowing to such an extent the scope of the president's powers under the Eighth Amendment to dissolve the National Assembly that in future a president impatient with an assembly will think hard before taking any action against it.[14]

The judgment demolished the myth of the President's over lordship of the National Assembly and the Prime Minister. The salient features of the Supreme Court's verdict can be summarized as under:[15]

a. The President, being a symbol of the unity of the country, is entitled to respect. It is contingent upon the President to conduct himself with the utmost impartiality and neutrality. Their Lordships concluded that President Ghulam Ishaq Khan had ceased to be a neutral and had aligned himself with the elements which were trying to destablize the Nawaz government.

b. The Prime Minister was neither answerable to the President nor subordinate to him.

c. The only way open to the President under the constitution for deciding whether the Prime Minister does, or does not command the confidence of the majority of the member of the National Assembly is by summoning the National Assembly and requiring the Prime Minister to obtain a vote of confidence from the Assembly. Any other method adopted for achieving the object, for forming an opinion, and for giving effect to it is impossible.

d. The allegations of corruption, maladministration, and incorrect policies being pursued in matters of financial, administrative, and international affairs, are independently neither decisive nor within the domain of the President for action under Article 58(2)(b) of the constitution. These are wholly extraneous and cannot sustain the impugned order.

e. The advice of the Prime Minister is binding on the President.

f. In formulating the policies of his government the Prime Minister is answerable to the National Assembly alone.

g. In the matter of appointing the services chiefs, the President is empowered to appoint in his discretion only the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

However, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, the only Sindhi judge of the Supreme Court in his dissident verdict pointed out that two Sindhi Prime Ministers, before this, were dismissed under the same article of the constitution, but the Supreme Court upheld the decision. However, when it was the turn of a Prime Minister from the Punjab then the tables were turned and the assembly as well as the government was restored. The dissenting judge added, "indications were given that the decision of the court would be such which would please the nation...In my humble opinion decision of the Court should be strictly in accordance with law and not to please the nation."

The verdict of the Supreme Court was, indeed, an indictment of the President by the highest judicial forum of Pakistan. In fact, this was the ultimate insult for a man who in all his life had never tasted defeat, and certainly not at the hands of a person, who until yesterday, was regarded as his protégé. A brief statement issued from the Presidency the same evening declared that the president was going to honor the verdict of the court. However, the President had other plans. Instead of packing his bags and putting a voluntary end to his long stint in public office, the president decided to strike back. Within three days of the verdict, the president's men went into action in Lahore and succeeded in dissolving the Punjab Assembly. A day later, the NWFP Assembly was also sent packing. And if this was not enough, a vote of no-confidence was subsequently moved against the Chief Minister of Sindh.

The Supreme Court verdict had clearly not resolved the political crisis in the country. The renewed confrontation was assuming threatening proportions, with the newly inducted caretaker governments in the Punjab and NWFP very serious in their attempts to restrict the writ of the central government to the federal limits of Islamabad. Ironically, Nawaz Sharif himself had once attempted this gambit when, as the Chief Minister of the Punjab, he had, tried to confine the authority of the then prime minister Benazir Bhutto, to the federal capital. The continued confrontation between Nawaz Sharif and Ghulam Ishaq Khan polarized Pakistani politics and threatened to undermine government institutions.

After waiting in the wings through a political crisis of epic proportions, the army finally decided to emerge from the shadows and take its traditional role in politics. Directly or from behind the scenes, the country has been ruled by the army for most of its half a century history. On this occasion, however, the military top brass had to decide the fate of a prime minister who, unlike his predecessors, stood on the same power-base as the army, and had continued to derive his support from an extremely influential section of the so-called establishment.[16] Corps Commanders met on July 1, 1993 to discuss three options: the imposition of martial law; asking the president to again dissolve the assembly and call for fresh elections; and requesting the prime minister to advise the president to dissolve the House and call snap polls. The conference decided on the third option and General Abdul Waheed told Nawaz Sharif the same day, that fresh elections were a possible answer to the prevailing crisis. Finally, under a compromise brokered by the military, both the President and the Prime Minister resigned in July 1993. Wasim Sajjad, who was serving as Senate Chairman was appointed interim President, in accordance with the constitution. According to the U.S. State Department, the Pakistani political leaders and the chief of army staff were kept under pressure during the negotiations to ensure that the country did not come under martial law.[17]

The army's role in the 1993 crisis has been rather different from what it was at the time of the past two dismissals. In May 1988, when Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo was removed, the then President General Ziaul Haq was himself the army chief. Later when Benazir Bhutto's government was removed in August 1990, General Aslam Beg and the rest of the army leadership was as much involved in the act as the president. This time, however, the army's involvement has been limited to a passive support for the president's action, who also happens to be the supreme commander of the armed forces. It was not without reason that, on the night of the dismissal, Ishaq Khan made it a point to mention that his real differences with Nawaz Sharif had started when the latter objected to the appointment of General Abdul Waheed as the new army chief.[18]

Nawaz Sharif was the real loser in the power struggle, but for this he has to largely blame himself. It was his ambition to acquire absolute and unchallenged political dominance which in the first instance, led him to work towards the annulment of the Eighth Amendment and incidentally, make his first conciliatory gesture towards the opposition and the PPP. He failed to realize that if the Eighth Amendment provided unchecked discretionary powers to the President, something that was contrary to the true democratic spirit, the opposition would not concede the Prime Minister's usurpation of the same. He banked too much on his strength in the National Assembly and became oblivious to the fact that this strength was not seen as entirely legitimate by the opposition.

Ghulam Ishaq Khan was also a major loser in the end-game. When he took over as the President in August,1988 after the death of General Ziaul Haq, he was looked upon as something of a savior. People even decided to ignore some of the proverbial skeletons in his cupboard -- e.g. his proximity to General Zia, for instance. Yet, towards the last phase of his tenure he became a manipulative old man encouraging palace intrigues, motivated by his own personal whims and fancies.

Like his predecessor, Nawaz Sharif's two and half years rule was marred by deteriorating law and order situation, particularly in the Sindh province, economic mismanagement, financial scandals and political vindictiveness. Sharif's ally in Sindh, Chief Minister Jam Sadiq Ali, launched a reign of terror against his opponents. During Sharif's tenure, Asif Ali Zardari remained in jail for alleged involvement in criminal and fraud cases. Six references were filed by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan against Benazir Bhutto in Special Courts regarding misuse of authority.

The lack of transparency in his much-publicized privatization policy was glaringly obvious. The work of Privatization Commission, headed by Lt. General Saeed Qadir, was a mixture of deviousness and bullheadedness. Charges of favoritism and insider dealings made a mockery of the whole process. No sooner was a deal concluded than it became mired in controversy. And yet privatization was being hailed as the government's major accomplishment.

At every level, he continued to create illusions. The National Finance Commission Award and the Indus Water Apportionment Treaty are two living proofs of these illusions. In the case of the former, he promised the provinces more money than he could deliver and in the later, he gave the provinces more water than could possibly be taken out from the Indus Basin system, given the existing irrigation network.

After taking over the reigns of government, the Interim Prime Minister, Moeen Qureshi, roundly criticized Nawaz Sharif for draining the country's foreign exchange reserves. He accused his predecessor of wasting as much as five billion dollars in only 18 months. Breaking down this figure, he revealed that the Sharif government had borrowed two billion dollars from foreign commercial banks on high mark-up, consumed another two billion out of private foreign exchange accounts, and more or less, threw away another one billion dollars in sponsoring his much-publicized yellow cab scheme. In addition, the Nawaz Sharif government allegedly printed currency notes worth nearly 20 billion rupees without obtaining prior clearance from the State Bank, or making any allowances for the country's gold reserves level.[19]

On the economic front, all his decisions were taken by the dozen-odd committees operating directly from the PM's house. The cabinet, and even parliament, were completely bypassed. A notification reduced the duty on steel scrap from Rs. 1500 per ton to Rs 500 per ton. It was a blatant exercise of the misuse of public office for private ends, whereby the state exchequer was deprived of approximately Rs. 500 million while saving the PM's family-owned business Ittefaq Foundries 378 million rupees.

His domestic politics revolved around high-profile visits to poor people's homes, but he would not touch his friend General Abdul Majid Malik who owned the National Industrial Cooperative Finance Corporation, the eight billion-rupee cooperative society whose collapse left more people destitute than could even benefit from Sharif's transport scheme. He also allowed his personal business empire to borrow money from the co-operative societies, knowing fully well that it was wholly illegal to do so.

The plundering of the cooperative societies by the IJI politicians, culminated in the Credit Loan scandal, as a result of which some politicians robbed the national financial institutions over Rs 29 billion. The failure of the National Industrial Cooperative Credit Corporation and other cooperative societies was probably the biggest financial debacle in the history of Pakistan, affecting as many as two million depositors, many of them had their life savings in the cooperatives. Ittefaq Group was also accused of being involved in the cooperatives scam scandal since it took a loan of 520 million rupees from the co-ops. However, a Commission of inquiry -- headed by a judge, Afzal Lone who was elected unopposed on PML ticket to the Senate in March 1997 elections -- absolved the group from any responsibility in the co-op crash since the group had returned the money along with Rs 130 million interest.

The case of the co-ops is not as simple as that and the terms of reference for the Lone Commission were not sufficient to crack open the case in detail. The Lone Commission was only required to determine whether the two business groups, Ittefaq and the Chaudhrys' were responsible for the co-op crash or not. Of course they were not, but Mian Nawaz Sharif, along with President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Ms Benazir Bhutto, the Governor of the State Bank and all the federal and provincial finance ministers between 1985 and 1990 are guilty of ignoring and even abetting a gross violation of the Co-operative Society Act of 1925, under which most of the co-ops were registered. These cops were allowed to conduct illegal banking business by all the governments which came to power between 1985 and 1990. In the case of Mian Nawaz Sharif, the responsibility increases manifold because he allowed his own family concern to borrow from these co-ops while he was in power, when he was legally and morally bound to check the activities of these co-ops. Ms Benazir Bhutto is no less guilty as her own finance minister owned one of the five top co-ops while her government was in power.[20]

The government of Nawaz Sharif took exceptional pride in the enforcement of abstract concepts. The enforcement of the Shariah Act of 1991 was very much publicized and conscious efforts were made to induce the intellectuals to support this undertaking. The Shariah Bill was criticized by many thinkers, jurists, lawyers, philosophers, academicians and nationalists as unconstitutional and un-Islamic. It was a bill moved by fundamentalists, which was meant to strike at the roots of democracy. The passage of the bill did not fulfill the needs of the people. It did provide Nawaz Sharif with a pretext to claim "another promise fulfilled." [21]

However, Nawaz Sharif was not able to reconcile the different objectives of the IJI's constituent parties. The largest religious party, Jamaat-i-Islami, abandoned the alliance because of its perception of PML hegemony. The regime was weakened further by the military's suppression of the MQM which had entered into a coalition with the IJI to contain the PPP influence.

By the middle of 1992, the situation in Sindh had reached a dangerous pass. Over the cities the MQM, with the unique blend of terror and populism, ruled. The interior of the province was swept by an unprecedented wave of crime with kidnappings and dacoities having become the order of the day. The chief minister, Jam Sadiq Ali, was more interested in holding on to power and in hounding the PPP than in anything else. But with the law and order situation on the verge of total collapse, the federal government was left with no option but to call upon the army to help improve the situation. On June 19, 1992 General Asif Nawaz Janjua launched a "cleanup operation" to restore deteriorating law and order situation in the interior of Sindh as well as crackdown against the MQM. To general acclaim, the army did a splendid job. It restored peaceful conditions in the countryside and put an end to the MQM's reign of terror in the cities. In General Ziaul Haq's time the army had become an object of hatred in the eyes of many Sindhis -- firstly because of being tainted with the hanging of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and secondly for its role in crushing the MRD movement in 1983. But with its new policy in Sindh its battered image was rehabilitated.[22]

However, the prolongation of the army intervention and the way the army has taken sides in the internal feuding of the MQM -- helping the Haqiqis against the Altaf Hussein loyalists -- unwittingly helped the MQM by producing a sympathy wave in Altaf Hussain's favor and thus stemming the drop in his popularity, of which there were unmistakable signs because of the corruption and terror tactics of his cadres. From the very beginning the army gave signs that its intervention was not politically neutral. There was General Asif Nawaz's famous interview to the BBC, during which he dubbed the MQM as a terrorist organization. Whether this was true or not, it was no business of an army chief to pass this judgment. Subsequently, the army played a far from passive role in helping the dissidents of the MQM Haqiqi to take over the offices of the mainstream MQM. It was the army's partisan role in this undertaking which not only created a feeling of ill-will against it even amongst those Mohajirs who may not even have been MQM loyalists but it also demanded the Haqiqis as bunch of quislings. As a corollary to this, the MQM proper has retained its support amongst the Mohajir community.[23]


An interim government headed by Moeen Qureshi, a former World Bank vice president, took office in July 1993 with a mandate to hold national and provincial parliamentary elections in October. Moeen Qureshi went far beyond his mandate of holding free and fair polls. The 30 ordinances promulgated by his government touched just about every aspect of government in Pakistan from making agricultural income taxable to establishing the State Bank and Pakistan Television as independent bodies. However, his measures were reversed by the elected government of Benazir Bhutto, as it allowed to lapse the ordinances which were valid only for four months. Moeen Qureshi is more likely to be remembered for his loan recovery schemes than for his short-lived reforms and holding of army-supervised fair elections. He unveiled the faces that had eaten up billions of rupees from public money in the shape of unreturned loans or unpaid taxes, and recovering over one billion rupees in unpaid utility bills.

In December, 1987 a World Bank mission had advised the government of Pakistan to make public disclosures of willful defaulters a regular feature, so as to allow the country's banks to finally recover their loans. Since the presentation of that report Islamabad had seen two presidents and four prime ministers who did not take any action. It was Moeen Qureshi's interim government which removed the secrecy clause in the Banks Nationalization Act of 1974 to enable the banks to publish the list of defaulters. Name any elite political, business or agricultural family and it is there, with millions of rupees outstanding against one or more of its scions. Besides the defaulters, at least 245 persons have managed, through influence or arm-twisting, to get their loans written off altogether to the tune of roughly 1.56 billion. Some others have defaulted on payments amounting to more than 60 billion rupees.

The prominent personalities in the list included: Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Siddiq Khan Kanju, Gohar Ayub, Lt. General (retd) Majeed Ali Malik, the Saifullahs, Senator Basharat Elahi, Nusrat Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari, Khawaja Tariq Rahim, Liaquat Jatoi, Mir Nabi Bakhsh Zehri, Zafarullah Khan Jamali, Sardar Ataullah Khan Mengal, Ata Marri, Ali Khan Junejo and former president of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Abdul Aziz Haji Yaqoob, who was appointed by Nawaz Sharif as chairman of the Export Promotion Bureau with the status of a federal minister of state.[24]

While the media had been quick to highlight the names of politicians who have defaulted on bank loans, several leading business groups also owed millions of rupees in loans and had equally astronomical sums written off by the country's banks. These included the Adamjees, Bawanys, Fancys, Abdul Khaliq Allahwala, the Millwalas, Malik Khuda Bux Bucha, Lt General (retd) Habibullah Khan, Mir Javedur Rehman, the Mazaris, Monoos, and Sheikhs (of the Colony group), Mians of all shapes and sizes, the Dadabhoys and Kundis, Bayram Avari, the Hyesons group, the Zuberis, Rehamans, Hashwanis and many others.[25] The most conspicuous of the lot was undoubtedly the ever controversial Mian Mohammad Mansha, who benefited from a write-off amounting to more than seven million rupees. However, this did not prevent him from later acquiring the Muslim Commercial Bank, the first nationalized bank to be put up for sale through the much maligned privatization process, even though one of the clauses in the terms of bidding clearly stated that anyone who is either a defaulter or has had bank loans written off, will not be allowed to participate.[26]


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