ISLAMABAD, Oct 17: Chief executive Gen Pervez Musharraf has announced the setting up of National Security Council (NSC) which will guide cabinet ministers in running the affairs of the country. In his address to the nation on radio and television on Sunday night, Gen Musharraf set a seven-point agenda to revive the economy and work for national integration. He also said that there was no martial law in Pakistan." The Constitution has temporarily been held in abeyance to save the country", he said. The chief executive said he was happy to tell the nation that Rafiq Tarar had consented to continue as the president of the country. Giving the details, Gen Musharraf said he would head the six-member National Security Council, whose members would be the chief of naval staff, the chief of air staff, a specialist each in legal, finance, foreign policy and national affairs. A 'think tank' of experts would be formed as an adjunct to the NSC to provide institutionalised advice and input. The seven-point agenda would be: rebuilding of national confidence and morale; strengthening of the federation, removal of interprovincial disharmony and restoration of national cohesion; revival of economy and restoration of investor's confidence; ensuring law and order and dispensing speedy justice; depoliticization of state institutions; devolution of power to the grossroots level; and ensuring swift and across- the-board accountability. REFERENCE: Musharraf addresses nation: Security Council to run state affairs By Ihtasham ul Haque 23 October 1999 Issue:05/43 DAWN WIRE SERVICE http://www.lib.virginia.edu/area-studies/SouthAsia/SAserials/Dawn/1999/23oct99.html
Lets see as to how General Musharraf and his Illegal and Rampant Military Regime conducted the Across the Board Accountability and that too after violating article 6 of 1973 Constitution of Pakistan i.e. by Imposing Martial Law and sacking an Elected Government of Mr Nawaz Sharif. REFERENCES: MORE DETAILS ON DRACONIAN NATIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY BUREAU: Human Rights Developments http://www.hrw.org/legacy/wr2k1/asia/pakistan.html Special Corruption Courts in Asia http://www.u4.no/helpdesk/helpdesk/queries/query19.cfm Pakistan Country Reports on Human Rights Practices Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor 2002 March 31, 2003 http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2002/18314.htm
The National Accountability Bureau is Pakistan's apex anti-corruption organization. It is charged with the responsibility of elimination of corruption through a holistic approach of awareness, prevention and enforcement. It operates under the National Accountability Ordinance-1999, with its headquarter at Islamabad. REFERENCE: http://www.nab.gov.pk/
IN an interview, Lt-Gen Hafiz is said to have termed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) a ‘professional’ organization run by qualified people. What sort of professional organization is he talking about? The Merriam - Webster dictionary defines the word professional as “characterized or conforming to the ethical standard of a profession.” The Bureau was constituted with the aim of bringing the corrupt to justice and free society from the menace of graft. Lt-Gen Syed Amjad was appointed its first chairman with Farooq Adam as prosecutor-general. Several high profile politicians and bureaucrats were arrested in the beginning and lodged haphazardly at different police stations without any record on paper as NAB was itself groping for ways and means to legalize these arrests.
One can recall the statement of Farooq Adam in the apex court that NAB had ‘dumped and forgotten’ former chairman of the HBFC, Siddiqul Farooq. Can that organization be termed professional whose PG (seniormost prosecuting officer) issues such a feckless statement in front of Supreme Court judges? NAB prepared dozens of corruption cases against the Sharif family and it was claimed with full confidence that this organization would bring all members of the Sharif family to justice. But the military government wanted them to leave the country. A ‘deal’ (still a mystery) was struck and they were flown overnight out of the country. This was in complete negation of the NAB Ordinance but this professional organization remained a silent spectator to the episode. In a series of other events, some of the top-notch politicians under NAB custody were released on one pretext or another with the promise to switch loyalties to the government. And now the investigations initiated by NAB against the former chairman of Evacuee Trust Property Board, Lt-Gen Javed Nasir, are dragging on. After all that has happened, is it right to call NAB a professional organization run by qualified people?
NAB Officials spend over Rs. 24. 7 million on foreign tours Friday February 03, 2006 (0035 PST) ISLAMABAD: Atleast 47 National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials including two former chairmen spent more than an estimated Rs. 24. 7 million on foreign trips, as details in this connection presented in the parliament. Online learnt Thursday through well placed sources of Senate Secretariat, according to which two former chairmen of NAB, Lt Gen (Retd) Amjad Hussain and Lt. Gen (Retd) Munir Hafiz toured about 20 countries. Gen Amjad spent estimated Rs four hundred thousand while touring UK and USA, whereas Gen Munir toured an outrageous 18 foreign destinations spending about 60,00,000 from exchequer's kitty.
Most of these tours have been claimed to be undertaken in connection with pending investigations about corruption charges against Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari, whereas NAB officials also underwent training in foreign institutions against corruption handling. Further activities include seminars, attended by NAB officials in such diverse destinations as, Dubai, Malaysia, London, Geneva, Singapore, Hong Kong, USA, Saudi Arabia, Paris, Nairobi, Manila, Jakarta, Mexico, Korea, China, Australia, etc. According to the detailed reports provided by the Prime Minister house to the Parliament, the former deputy secretary of NAB, Maj Gen Shujaat Zamir, spent Rs 2, 49000, Deputy chairman NAB Hassan. M. Afzal spent about Rs. 2,73,000 on his Geneva trip, Attorney General Pakistan Makhdoom Ali Khan spent an estimated Rs. 2,75,000 on his Geneva trip, former prosecutor General Farooq Adam Khan spent, Rs 2,75,000, D.G NAB Talat Mahmood Ghumman spent 12,00,000 on his trip to London, Sydney, Zurich, Switzerland, D.G NAB Maj. Gen Ijaz Ahmad Bakhshi spent about Rs 1,61,000 on his USA trip, DG Rear Admiral Saeed Ahmad Sargana spent Rs 2,56,000 on his Mexican tour, COS Brig. Tayab Waheed concurred an expenditure of Rs, 400,000 on his tours to Singapore, Hong Kong, Vienna, Austria, and Kuala Lumpur. Among other more, group captain Naseer Ashraf spent 2,66,000 on his trips to Moscow, Dubai, and London, member financial crimes Najam -Ul- Hassan Saqib spent 14,00,000 on his itinerary of Zurich, Geneva, London and Australia. Ms Nadia Sheikh, who is a legal consultant, spent more than 2,00,000 on her Korean trip, and additional director Tanvir Akhtar and Farman Ullah spent more than 600,000 on their Hong Kong trip. Besides these, other officials also spent astronomical amounts from official sources, ranging from Rs. 13,000 to Rs. 300,000 on their foreign trips. REFERENCE: NAB Officials spend over Rs. 24. 7 million on foreign tours Friday February 03, 2006 (0035 PST) http://www.paktribune.com/news/index.shtml?133078
In October 1999, right after Pervez Musharraf’s coup d’état, General Syed Mohammad Amjad of Corps II (Multan) was appointed as first chairman of National Accountability Bureau (NAB). General Amjad was said to be close friend of General Mahmood Ahmed, Musharraf’s right-hand man in those days. General Amjad and General Mahmood were classmates and shared accommodation throughout their school and college life in Lawarance College, Murree. On April 4, 2002, for the first time in the history of Pakistan Army, a serving general and Corps Commander of Multan, General Syed Mohammad Amjad, was posted as chairman of the Fauji Foundation, the premier military business organization. In 2003, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Amir Jamat-e-Islami, alleged that General Syed Mohammad Amjad has been allotted an expensive piece of land measuring two kanals in Lahore Cantt, at a throwaway price. REFERENCE: Illustrious career of General (retd.) Syed Mohammad Amjad March 14th, 2008 by Kashif Aziz http://www.chowrangi.com/illustrious-career-of-general-retd-syed-mohammad-amjad.html
According to Qazis’ claim, the Military Land and Cantonment Headquarters, Lahore, allotted a 2-kanal plot (No.2-A) to General Amjad on August 31, 2003 through allotment letter No.11-1484RD-Ihr-88, under survey No.92/2-A. The plot, situated on Sarwa Road, Lahore Cantt, was leased out to the worthy General for 99 years, against an annual lease fee of 50 rupees only. The plot was worth 90 lakhs and General Amjad has already sold one kanal for 45 lakhs. When Qazi first leveled these allegations, there were vociferous denials from various important government officials. However, the same government officials later admitted that the plots had been allotted in accordance with existing rules. An Army spokesman conceded that General Amjad and other soldiers who fulfil the merit and service oriented criteria are eligible for some benefits on payment of the cost of the land. “Lieutenant General Syed Mohammad Amjad has also been assessed by the same criteria.” In June 2005 a complaint was filed in NAB against Syed Mohammad Amjad, Chairman Fauji Foundation, for corruption in sales of Khoski Sugar Mill. It was stated that General Amjad has sold Khoski Sugar Mill, property of Fauji Foundation, to a favorite for an amount much less than the highest bid and this information was confirmed by the Defence Ministry in the National Assembly. The Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Tanvir Hussain, admitted in the Assembly that the “sugar mill had been sold at Rs. 300 million, against the highest bid of Rs. 387 million.” The Senate’s Defence Committee summoned the Fauji Foundation management to appear and explain why this corruption had been done. But instead of coming clean on the issue, General Amjad and the other top Generals sitting in the GHQ have decided to challenge the jurisdiction of the Parliament to look into the affairs of Army-run businesses. The Senate Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production on June 4 received a communication from the Defence Ministry stating that the Committee had no jurisdiction to appear for or against Fauji Foundation at any forum. A press release said the office of the Chairman, Standing Committee on Defence, received a communication from the Defence Minister intimating that after having a detailed briefing from the ministry’s officials it was apparent that “Fauji Foundation is a private sector organization.“ REFERENCE: Illustrious career of General (retd.) Syed Mohammad Amjad March 14th, 2008 by Kashif Aziz http://www.chowrangi.com/illustrious-career-of-general-retd-syed-mohammad-amjad.html
On March 21, 2007, the Board of Directors of Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) appointed General (retd.) Syed Mohammad Amjad as the new Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board with effect from April 5, 2007. General (retd.) Amjad replaced Frank Scherschmidt, who was previously serving the post ever since the privatization of KESC. In June 2007, Maheen A. Rashdi wrote that Syed Mohammad Amjad, CEO KESC, draws a salary of Rs. 1.1 million besides perks amounting to Rs. 0.3 million. His appointment was made outside proper procedure on the recommendation of the Board of Directors and he has no credentials to prove that he possesses technical know-how of running such a sensitive outfit. REFERENCE: Growing debts of KESC By Maheen A. Rashdi June 10, 2007 Sunday Jamadi-ul-Awwal 24, 1428 http://www.dawn.com/2007/06/10/fea.htm#2 REFERENCE: Illustrious career of General (retd.) Syed Mohammad Amjad March 14th, 2008 by Kashif Aziz http://www.chowrangi.com/illustrious-career-of-general-retd-syed-mohammad-amjad.html
Mr. Abbasi Praising General Musharraf's Martial Law Regime's "Alleged Reforms" when Ansar Abbasi used to be a Correspondent in Daily Dawn, he never mentioned even a single time that Impsoing Martial Law is Treason and Violation of Article 6 of 1973 Constitution of Pakistan.
As per 1973 Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan
6. (1) Any person who abrogates or attempts or conspires to abrogate, subverts or attempts or conspires to subvert the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason.
(2) Any person aiding or abetting the acts mentioned in clause (1) shall likewise be guilty of high treason.
(3) [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] shall by law provide for the punishment of persons found guilty of high treason.
Definition of Accomplice: An accomplice is a person who actively participates in the commission of a crime, even though they take no part in the actual criminal offense.
During 1999 Mr. Ansar Abbasi was Praising General Musharraf Martial Law regime's "Alleged Reforms" when Ansar Abbasi used to be a Correspondent in Daily Dawn, he never mentioned even a single time that Impsoing Martial Law is Treason and Violation of Article 6 of 1973 Constitution of Pakistan. Read the news reports which Ansar Abbasi filed in the Daily Dawn in 1999. Not a single time Ansar adress Musharraf as CMLA but Ansar was very respectful towards "Alleged Chief Executive" Musharraf. You may not find a single personal observation by Ansar Abbasi on Constitutional Tampering by Military Regime. Musharraf was given mandate by the Judiciary to tamper with the Constitution. Everybody knows who was part of that Supreme Court Bench. REFERENCES: Special courts to try cases of accountability Ansar Abbasi 06 November 1999 Issue : 05/45 [Courtesy Daily Dawn Wire Service] http://www.lib.virginia.edu/area-studies/SouthAsia/SAserials/Dawn/1999/06nov99.html Musharraf approves pre-1973 authority for FPSC by Ansar Abbasi Week Ending : 29 January 2000 Issue : 06/05 [Courtesy Daily Dawn Wire Service] http://www.lib.virginia.edu/area-studies/SouthAsia/SAserials/Dawn/2000/29jan00.html Sharifs lose 80pc of assets, says Qureshi by Ansar Abbasi Week Ending : 16 December 2000 Issue : 06/48 http://www.lib.virginia.edu/area-studies/SouthAsia/SAserials/Dawn/2000/dec1600.html Beneficiaries of NRO cannot get bail: NAB By Ansar Abbasi Friday, November 13, 2009 http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=25545 Finally, dreaded NRO list is out and official By Ansar Abbasi Friday, November 20, 2009 http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=25672
When NRO erupted on the face of Mr Zardari, another meeting between the Army Chief and the PM was essential on Monday night so that the right message was conveyed. And it was. Then we saw the surrender. The Zardari era, the argument goes, consists of broken promises, colossal mistakes in assessing the mood of the people, taking decisions with arrogance, taking on the establishment and institutions which were needed to survive, taking gigantic U-turns when under pressure and smiling about them, claiming unabashedly as if it was a considered policy (like the restoration of judges, sacking and restoration of the Punjab government of PML-N, surrender on the Kerry Lugar Bill and eventually running away from the NRO). REFRENCES: Has a countdown begun in Islamabad? By Shaheen Sehbai Saturday, November 07, 2009 http://www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=207257 The contours of a changed, unwritten script Situationer By Shaheen Sehbai Wednesday, November 04, 2009 http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=25365
Mr. Shaheen Sehbai [Group Editor The News International] talks about NRO and Accountability in his editorials and stories which he has been filing since months but forgetting what he used to say about National Accountability Bureau in his web based magazine South Asia Tribune [Shaheen Sehbai Founded this magazine after he escaped from Pakistan in 2002 to seek political asylum in USA]. Mr. Shaheen had advised all the readers before closing down his website to save the material.
WASHINGTON, October 17: Dear Readers, this is the final piece on the South Asia Tribune, as this site is now being closed for good. I understand that it may come as a rude shock to many and may create despair and depression for all those who had started to look up to SAT as a beacon of courage and resistance, but this decision has been based on many factors, which I will explain briefly. SAT would be on line for the rest of this month, till the end of October. On November 1, 2005 it will disappear from the Internet. All those who may be interested in keeping a record of any SAT article or report can save it any time before that date. REFRENCE: The Final Word from theSouth Asia Tribune By Shaheen Sehbai WASHINGTON DC, Oct 17, 2005 ISSN: 1684-2057 www.satribune.com http://antisystemic.org/satribune/www.satribune.com/archives/200510/P1_sat.htm
Book Confirms Musharraf's First Multi-Million Dollar Telephone Scandal Special SAT Report WASHINGTON DC, Sept 8, 2004 ISSN: 1684-2057 www.satribune.com http://www.satribune.com/archives/sept04/P1_habook2.htm
WASHINGTON, Sept 8: Musharraf Government’s first multi-million dollar scandal of awarding a lucrative cell phone contract to a Canadian company in early 2000, ignoring the ever reliable Chinese friends, became the main reason for a split between Musharraf and his honorable and honest colleague, General Syed M. Amjad, who quit as Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau in less than a year.
“This was an open-and-shut case as all the evidence was there, but when (Gen) Amjad wanted to move in and scuttle the contract, he was refrained from doing so. The only man who had the power to do this was Musharraf himself,” reveals a new book on Pakistan due to be released worldwide on Sept 11.
The scandal was first reported by the South Asia Tribune in its issue No 47 on June 22, 2003 and full documentary evidence was also published, including a letter issued by the office of the then Chief Executive General Musharraf ordering that the contract be given to the company he favored and General Amjad objected to. Click to Read the original SAT story with documents [How Extra Millions were Paid on Musharraf's Orders By Aijaz Mahar Issue No 47, June 22-28, 2003 ISSN:1684-2057 satribune.com http://www.satribune.com/archives/jun22_28_03/P1_nokia.htm (RED THE TEXT BELOW]
The latest confirmation comes in the book written by Hassan Abbas, a former police officer and currently Research fellow at the Harvard Law School and a PhD. candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. The book is titled Pakistan's Drift Into Extremism: Allah, The Army, And America's War On Terror, published by M.E. Sharpe. The author, who was also associated with NAB for some time and saw all these inner contradictions of Musharraf’s accountability bureau, has thrown a new light on how Musharraf started the accountability process to give credibility to his illegal regime but soon became a victim of its own ambitions. Abbas observes that NAB had an ominous start to begin with. In its first two weeks of operations, it cracked open a multimillion-dollar case of fraud and corruption. Nortel, a Canadian telecommunications company, had unfairly been handed a fat contract to build a mobile telephone network in Pakistan. After General Amjad’s departure and appointment of a new Chairman, the NAB was dead for all practical purposes, Abbas says. A noble experiment had ended because those who had initiated it did not have the moral stamina to carry it through.
Following are excerpts of his book’s chapter on NAB: “The first decisive step that Musharraf took (after taking over in October 1999) was on the domestic front - accountability of the corrupt. With every change of government since the revival of democracy in 1985, the cry for accountability had become louder and louder, but as the problem was so widespread and the ramparts of vested interest so invincible, no government dared go beyond a judicious mixture of flimsy steps and lip service toward meeting this demand. By the time Musharraf found himself catapulted to the helm, he had no option but to bow to the overwhelming sentiment of the people. Thus before the month of October 1999 was exhausted, he announced the formation of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), with Lieutenant General Syed Mohammad Amjad as its first chairman. And by a strange irony, it was fated that the “Attock conspiracy” officers who had paid a heavy price for attempting to conduct accountability twenty-five years before would have a fair representation on the Bureau. Within two days of the formation of the NAB, the services of Saeed Akhtar Malik and Farouk Adam Khan of the Attock court martial fame were requisitioned.
General Amjad was the ideal and unanimous choice of the senior ranks of the army to be the NAB chairman. He was an officer of extraordinary diligence and exemplary character, his name was a byword for integrity. Ayaz Amir, a leading Pakistani journalist, while treating Musharraf’s choice of certain cabinet members to scathing criticism, had this to say about Amjad: “Chief [Musharraf] has redeemed himself by picking Lieutenant General Amjad - and if anyone can make NAB work, it is Amjad, and if he falters or fails, or even if the pace of his offensive slackens, General Musharraf can say good-bye to the public goodwill.” In the event, Musharraf’s credibility and commitment were to be defined by the performance of the NAB, the words of the journalist were to be prophetic. From the survey of the NAB team, one could only draw optimism. Farouk Adam had a courtly manner, an impressive personality, and a unique ability to smile through the tedium of a sixteen-hour workday.
Saeed A. Malik had much idealism and passion and also a flair for winning the esteem of those working under him. He had written a freelance column for a decade in a leading English-language newspaper of the times (The Muslim), invariably exposing the corrupt practices of the ruling elite. The initial labors of the NAB were dedicated to drawing up the NAB Ordinance to provide a legal framework for this new organization. The central principle that dictated the ordinance was the shifting of the onus of proof to the accused, that is, that if the accused person could not reconcile his wealth, earnings, expenses, and taxes that he had paid, he must be deemed guilty of corruption. The framers of this ordinance were very conscious that this Draconian law would be applied to a maximum of only four hundred of the most corrupt in the land, and the principle that would determine the qualification of these “selected few” would be that of either an association with a great crime or having a big name adorned perhaps by a theft not that big. Without such a law, the NAB would essentially have been a nonstarter because of the virtual nonexistence of investigative and prosecutorial resources. Had this ordinance been judiciously used to attain the purpose it was designed for, things would be much different today.
To implement this agenda, Amjad was given full authority to select the “targets,” though he regularly consulted the ISI and a few legal experts while making vital decisions in this regard. Amjad had a free hand to hold across-the-board and evenhanded accountability from which no one was exempt, except the judiciary and serving armed forces officials. On November 17, 1999, the NAB moved in for its first crop of arrests. Many of those arrested were big names. There was great euphoria among the people because many individuals who had always considered themselves beyond the reach of law were now behind bars. Yet most of the arrests were made on the charges of loan default, perhaps the easiest charge to prove, but one that the NAB could be horrendously wrong about because it was very difficult to tell an honest from a willful default.
With the first blood having been drawn, the public appetite was whetted and they bayed for more. Their clamor could have been ignored, but not that of the government, whose credibility and performance had nothing but the achievements of the NAB to show for itself. The ordinary public was under the impression that the ISI and other intelligence agencies had collected enough data on corrupt elements when they were “monitoring” the civilian governments during the 1990s, but when a few ISI files were handed over to NAB officials, these were mostly speculative and devoid of any sound material necessary to prove a case in a court of law.
To quicken up things, General Amjad hurriedly developed a core team to run the organization comprising bankers, economists, lawyers, and a few from the intelligence and police backgrounds. It was a combination never tried before, the only handicap being a shortage of time to organize and deliver. Around that time, a letter from Musharraf’s office to the NAB (dated December 11, 1999) adequately reflects the anxiety of the government and its dependence on the NAB to shore up its credibility: “It has been reported with a great concern that corrupt politicians are becoming bold and the press is gradually becoming sympathetic to them. This trend must be stopped and reversed. Following steps are suggested: 1. Move fast on all issues, 2. Expose the corrupt people very expeditiously, 3. Scoop on corruption on a daily basis.
Consequently, more people were arrested based on their filthy reputations, but proof of their corruption was lacking. The NAB could have gained a lot of credibility in its initial days by prosecuting the ones who were already in custody, but the special accountability courts were not in place yet as selection of judges and establishing a new chain of courts and developing a whole new infrastructure was taking time. What the military hierarchy did not realize was that there is a huge difference between deploying a military unit to a new location and in establishing a law enforcement institution that has to act within the parameters of law. To overcome this shortage, dozens of retired ISI officials were inducted who perhaps knew the art of interrogation well, but had very little legal and investigative experience, which was the core requirement in this case.
There was a reason behind the compulsion that the new inductees had to be former ISI officials - the ISI was providing the funds for this NAB expansion and they opted to benefit their comrades in the process. As if these problems were not enough to hamper the NAB work, all of the arrested persons were kept in different cities under the custody of respective military commands where the local military officials and intelligence operatives started investigating/interrogating the accused on their own. Every single institution was trying to spy on NAB, making the task further complicated. This was symbolic of the general state of affairs in Pakistan. Amjad and Farouk Adam, the two public faces of the NAB, were now under immense pressure from the public, the press, and the government. As they addressed the press, it seemed to the military hierarchy that they were hogging the limelight, and they became victims of gratuitous envy. Shaukat Aziz, the finance minister, who had Musharraf’s ear, was for blanket protection to businessmen despite the fact that some of the latter, in cahoots with the bankers, were the biggest crooks. Amjad, on the other hand, was heading toward making an example of those industrialists and businessmen who had established their business empires through corrupt practices. This was a risky business as big money was involved.
One of Amjad’s problems was the subtle increase of government interference with his functioning. As it was, NAB had an ominous start to begin with. In its first two weeks of operations, it cracked open a multimillion-dollar case of fraud and corruption. Nortel, a Canadian telecommunications company, had unfairly been handed a fat contract to build a mobile telephone network in Pakistan. This was an open-and-shut case as all the evidence was there, but when Amjad wanted to move in and scuttle the contract, he was refrained from doing so. The only man who had the power to do this was Musharraf himself. As the NAB moved along, two questions were frequently asked of Amjad, that is, whether there were any holy cows, and if the army generals involved in corruption would also be arrested. The government position was that only serving army officers and the judiciary were exempt from the NAB because both institutions had effective in-house correction systems, but technically, retired armed forces officials were not a part of this category.
When a journalist publicly asked Amjad about press reports maintaining that corrupt military officials alone had deposited $1billion in foreign banks from kickbacks from weapons purchases, he shot back by saying: “We have not been sitting on our butts as regards defense deals.” Yet it was daily becoming clearer that all the big names among the retired generals were beyond the province of the NAB. The names of Generals Aslam Beg, Hamid Gul, Zahid Ali Akbar, Talat Masood, Saeed Qadir, Farrukh Khan, and Air Marshals Anwar Shamim and Abbas Khattak were discussed more than once, but nothing came of these discussions. Amjad was absolutely dedicated to having them probed, but was restrained from doing so. The reputation of Amjad, however, remained unimpaired. By releasing Khawaja Asif and Mr. Nawaz Tiwana, a leading politician and a bureaucrat, respectively, from detention and personally apologizing to them for wrongful arrest by the NAB, Amjad had set a new precedent in Pakistan by accepting that the mighty are often fallible. This only enhanced his stature, and the envy of his peers. In another high-profile case, a leading politician from the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) known for his corrupt practices threatened NAB officials during his interrogation by saying that he was a CIA agent, and that political instability would be created in the country if he were not released immediately. Amjad responded by making things harsher for him and by appointing more investigators to probe his case. The politician was ultimately convicted.
One of the brightest experiences of the NAB was the performance of its Central Investigation Team (CIT). General Amjad had allowed Saeed Malik to handpick a team of officers to give the NAB a limited in-house investigative capability. A former commander of army’s SSG, Brigadier Mohammad Nazir, an officer of unimpeachable integrity, was selected to head the CIT. The performance of the 12-member CIT team was outstanding on many counts. For instance, in a mere five months a three-man cell of the CIT (Lieutenant Colonel Riazuddin, Nadir Imtiaz Khan, and Major Taimur Shah) recovered or saved for the government of Pakistan Rs 3 billion (around US$500 million). But unfortunately, the most outstanding member of the team Lieutenant Colonel Obaidullah, a former ISI official, tragically died of a massive heart attack shortly after being wrongly accused of “mishandling” a case by a very senior NAB official. The saddest commentary on Musharraf’s much-vaunted commitment to the cause of accountability is that each member of this team of rare officers was hounded out of the NAB soon after Amjad’s departure from the institution. Their only handicap was that not one of them was prone to entertaining any adverse dictates. And so ended a heroic chapter of the war against crime by a handful of officers in a corrupt environment.
Reportedly, Amjad had asked to be relieved of his duties more than once. He was not one to take government partiality lying down. He left the NAB at the end of September 2000. NAB’s change of command, in the words of Mohammad Malick’s commentary in Dawn, was “a clear sign of NAB’s tailored, if not changed, priorities.” No one then knew who the real “tailor” might be, but there was an acknowledgment that “Amjad remained a very fair accountability chief.” But Tariq Ali in his book The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihadis, and Modernity, was much more perceptive when he observed that Amjad was ready to push through, but “Musharraf balked at the scale of the enterprise.” The new chairman was General Khalid Maqbool, whose reputation was no match for Amjad’s. The NAB was dead for all practical purposes. A noble experiment had ended because those who had initiated it did not have the moral stamina to carry it through. But it would not be they who would pay the price for this failure. This would be paid once more by those who have always paid it, the people of Pakistan.
Musharraf had made a clear choice — he would compromise with those politicians who were ready to side with him. He had given in to the building pressure from various sectors that wanted the regime to behave “normally” and not as a revolutionary one. This was the dilemma Musharraf faced — the masses were looking for a Messiah in him, whereas the political and military elite wanted the status quo to continue. Musharraf was still swinging in between.
I cannot help recalling one of the conversations between Saeed A. Malik and (late) General Ghulam Ahmed (Musharraf’s Chief of Staff) - Malik was strongly asserting that everything was “do-able” provided the Musharraf government had the will to do it, and General GA stunned the audience when he said: “But, sir, first they [Musharraf, General Mahmood, and General Aziz] will have to get out of the cage of Kargil, otherwise all their efforts will be reactive.” And he was not being disloyal. He was merely delivering an analytical conclusion, and his tone and tenor were entirely reflective of this. No one in Musharraf’s government could have mustered the courage to say this."
Generals Defy, Degrade Parliament to Protect a Corrupt Colleague By M T Butt WASHINGTON DC, June 8, 2005 ISSN: 1684-2057 www.satribune.com http://cache.zoominfo.com/CachedPage/?archive_id=0&page_id=1144830448&page_url=//www.satribune.com/archives/200506/P1_butt.htm&page_last_updated=6/8/2005+11:40:11+AM&firstName=Syed&lastName=Amjad
[NOTE THE ORIGINAL LINK IS DEAD. THEREFORE THE CACHE LINK]
ISLAMABAD, June 8: Deeply engrossed in private businesses, Army Generals have officially refused to recognize the jurisdiction of Pakistan’s Parliament and a landmark battle has begun to determine who would have the upper hand. “Under any democracy and constitutional rule, this would never be an issue, but Pakistan Army is bent upon breaking every rule and demolish or disfigure every institution to protect the Army's personal, political and corporate interests,” a senior politician said in Islamabad. One of Musharraf’s top Generals, accused of corruption in Army’s biggest corporate entity, the Fauji Foundation, has turned his Rs300 million case of favoritism into this test case by challenging the authority of the Senate to look into his affairs.
“This case would determine whether elected representatives will ever be able to peek into the back stage money-making secrets of the Army,” an expert said. The case involves Lt. General (Retd) Mohammed Amjad, (Top, Left) once the head of Musharraf's National Accountability Bureau (NAB). As NAB Chief General Amjad, and his successors, have been continuously using NAB, illegally and unconstitutionally, to investigate every private sector company or businessman the Generals want to target for their own personal, political or financial reasons.
After General Amjad left NAB he was appointed head of the Fauji Foundation which is, for all practical purposes, an extension of the Pakistan Army, as many sitting armed forces high ups are on its Board called the Committee of Administration. The Committee of Administration of Fauji Foundation comprises Army's Chief of the General Staff, Quarter Master-General, Chief of Logistics Staff, Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff (Training & Personnel) and Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Administration). According to Fauji Foundation, the Committee handles the administrative and management affairs of the Foundation. The case against Gen. Amjad is that he sold one of the sugar mills of Fauji Foundation to a favorite for an amount much less than the highest bid and this information was confirmed by the Defence Ministry in the National Assembly. So it was official. The Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Tanvir Hussain, admitted in the Assembly that the “sugar mill had been sold at Rs300 million, against the highest bid of Rs387 million.”
There was an immediate uproar both inside and outside the Parliament. The Senate’s Defence Committee summoned the Fauji Foundation management to appear and explain why this corruption had been done. A spokesman of Senate said a meeting of the Defence Committee to discuss the working of the Fauji Foundation and the sale of Khoski Sugar Mills in particular was requisitioned by three Opposition members namely Senators Rukhsana Zuberi, Farhatullah Babar and Sardar Mahtab Ahmed Khan. Initially the Foundation did not respond but after two weeks rejected the information given to the MPs through quarter-page advertisements in national dailies. The ads titled "Fauji Foundation Rejects" not only dismissed allegations but also claimed that the Khoski Sugar Mill was sold "in the best interest of the Foundation" and in keeping with the "established corporate norms and business practices." "We have received no government assistance in cash or kind," the ads announced, and vowed to "jealously guard its reputation for impeccable conduct." The MPs took the Foundation's ads, which rejected the official information placed before them a few days before, as an affront and breach of their privilege. Even Government party member and Parliamentary Secretary, Major Tanvir, bemoaned that the Foundation had breached the privilege of Parliament.
PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar, an activist on such issues, wrote in a newspaper column: “One is indeed puzzled by the Foundation's claim that it had not received government assistance in cash or in kind. Under SRO No 395, issued in March 1972, all the properties of the Post War Services Reconstruction Funds of the former West Pakistan were vested in the Federal Government, which in turn transferred these properties to the Fauji Foundation under the Charitable Endowments Act. With such a kick start from day one, how can the management today claim that it has not received from the government "any assistance in cash or in kind"? But instead of coming clean on the issue, General Amjad and the other top Generals sitting in the GHQ have decided to challenge the jurisdiction of the Parliament to look into the affairs of Army-run businesses. The Senate Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production on June 4 received a communication from the Defence Ministry stating that the Committee had no jurisdiction to appear for or against Fauji Foundation at any forum.
A press release said the office of the Chairman, Standing Committee on Defence, received a communication from the Defence Minister intimating that after having a detailed briefing from the ministry's officials it was apparent that "Fauji Foundation is a private sector organization." The Committee Chairman is an ardent Musharraf and Army loyalist. A hand-picked businessman, former IBM chief and Musharraf’s ex-Information Minister, Nisar Memon is now heading the Senate’s Defence Committee. Instantly he jumped to the General’s side and as Committee Chairman accepted, without a word, the Fauji Foundation’s contention that private businesses were outside the Senate’s purview. Memon accepted the explanation and declared that the meeting requisitioned by the Opposition senators will not be held, cutting his own legs and feet. No one is allowing him to get away with this serious issue and even political allies of the Generals, now providing Musharraf and his men the façade of a democracy, are confused and issuing conflicting statements. “This is how Musharraf undermines the constitution and rule of law as he has his own cronies installed in key places who do not care about any democratic tradition but serve the interests of their Army masters,” a senior politician commented as a chorus of credible political voices rejected Nisar Memon’s decision as totally uncalled for and without authority or legality.
Even the Parliamentary Affairs Minister in the Shaukat Aziz cabinet, a PPP turncoat and often a Musharraf loyalist, Dr Sher Afgan Niazi, did not agree with Nisar Memon. He told newspaper Dawn on June 5 every organization within the limits of Pakistan, whether public or private, can be summoned before the parliament. "No private organization operating within the country has an exemption from being summoned before the parliament. The principle of sovereignty and supremacy of parliament is applicable in the case.” Another leading constitutional expert, Choudhry Aitzaz Ahsan of PPP went a step further. He said: “The Defence Ministry's refusal to bring the Fauji Foundation under scrutiny in the committee is a sheer disobedience and disrespect to the parliament. Any entity that is "controlled" or "owned" by the government can be summoned by a committee of the parliament, including the Senate and the National Assembly.” Ahsan said Fauji Foundation was like other organizations which operated as private entities but were "controlled" or "owned" by the government. He said if the PTV managing director and PIA Chairman could be summoned before a committee, nothing barred the management of Fauji Foundation from being summoned. He said the presence of the Defence Secretary and other senior serving officials of the armed forces on the committee of administration of Fauji Foundation made it subject to appear before the committee and the parliament.
A former secretary of the National Assembly, Khan Ahmed Goraya, said the National Assembly committees had the powers of the civil court and could summon any person or entity within the precincts of the country. Similar rules were applicable to the Senate committees, he said. The influential Editor of Lahore’s Daily Times, Najam Sethi, weighed in with a strong editorial note on the issue titled: “Fauji Foundation must explain its conduct to the Senate Standing Committee.”
His editorial said: “These are important questions, not only in relation to the issue at hand — namely the dubious sale of the sugar mills — but also vis à vis the larger questions of the military in business and civil-military relations. It is clear to us that the Foundation’s Committee of Administration is loath to appear before a committee of parliamentarians because of military’s traditional disregard of the parliament. Under the rules it is the Standing Committee’s prerogative “to take a decision and express an opinion on the new position taken by the defence ministry”. And as Senator Babar has contended, “The Rules have no provision for the Chairman of the Committee [in this case, Senator Memon] to give a personal verdict and cancel a requisitioned meeting.” ”General Pervez Musharraf continues to talk about a new Pakistan built around respect for institutions. We expect that the process of institutionalization will subsume the military and not bestow on it the status of a holy cow. At the end of the day, Parliament is the highest body in the realm and its members have every right — within prescribed law — to oversee the functioning of various departments, including the military,” the newspaper said.
“It is also important to determine, once and for all, the sex of entities run by, and under, the military. Are they in the private sector or in the public domain?” Given all these arguments, the attempt by the Generals to bulldoze and over-run the Parliament are blatant, mean and self-serving. They want immunity from accountability for their misdeeds in all Government-run, funded and controlled organizations which they have grabbed. The next step would be to demand that all lands, properties and houses owned by the Generals would be exempt from any law, tax or regulation. This can go on and on. Because if the Generals claim that they are running a private business, which cannot be questioned by the Parliament, then the question that needs an immediate answer is why and how are these officers allowed to run a private business as Government Service rules prohibit any employee to run his own business. And why is tax-payers money being pumped into their private business. The Economic Survey of Pakistan 2004-05, released by the Ministry of Finance on June 4, reveals that the Government had explicit contingent liability of Rs1.02 billion on account of Fauji Fertilizer Company Jordan. The government's guarantee of for FFC increased from Rs0.70 billion in 2002-03 to Rs1.02 billion in 2004-05, revealed the Survey, an authentic official document released every year before the budget. According to the company profile, FFC Jordan is a Joint Venture of Fauji Foundation and Fauji Fertilizer Company Limited. The Chairman of Fauji Foundation, Lt Gen (retd) Syed Muhammad Amjad, is shown as the chairman of the FFC in its recent annual report. This battle between the Generals and the Parliament is another manifestation of the crumbling state of affairs in General Musharraf's Pakistan.
Documents Disclose Details of a Dirty Deal
How Extra Millions were Paid on Musharraf's Orders By Aijaz Mahar Issue No 47, June 22-28, 2003 ISSN:1684-2057 satribune.com http://www.satribune.com/archives/jun22_28_03/P1_nokia.htm
ISLAMABAD: Documentary evidence is now available to show that General Pervez Musharraf's Chief of Staff intervened and ordered grant of an over $50 million cellular phone contract to a Canadian firm against a much better offer of a friendly Chinese company. Thus the military government not only caused a loss of $5.8 million to the national exchequer but also annoyed Pakistan’s most trust-worthy and strategic friend, China, for unexplained and unknown reasons, to the extent that the Chinese company, and then the Ambassador, had to write a letter to General Musharraf, but in vain. "Certain unknown resource is favoring a Canadian company called Nortel and is pushing Pakistan Telecommunications Mobile Ltd (PTML) to sign this contract with Nortel.... We are sincerely looking that decision should be done on merit basis and favoritism should be stopped immediately," the Chinese company letter to General Musharraf dated January 29, 2000 said. Click to view letter Page1 Page2
The deal signed on March 2, 2000, was thrust upon PTML–- a subsidiary of state-owned Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL) Authority -- by the Chief of the Staff to General Pervez Musharraf in violation of rules, documents reveal. A memo by the Chief of Staff Office clearly stated that contract should be awarded to one company and "there is no reason to reopen the case". The company was Nortel which had been allowed to lower its bid while others, including the Chinese company, were denied the same favor. Click to see Memo
Documents available with SA Tribune, spread over 105 pages, indicate foulplay in dishing out the deal to the Canadian cellular company, Nortel, by allowing it to revise its bid downwards while refusing the same facility to other bidders, including China. Initially five bidders -- Alcatel, Ericsson, Nokia, Nortel and Siemens – participated in the bid for providing network, billing, customer care, voice mail, and transmission etc. to PTML for its cellular company U-fone. The cost of duties and taxes, worked at $8.0 to 9.0 million, was to be borne by the PTML. Aclatel offered to complete the job in $71.672 million, Ericsson $78.092 million, Nokia 72.911 million, Nortel 67.622 and Siemens $100.86 million. After receiving the bids, the PTML appointed a Finland-based consultant company Omnitele to examine the technical data as well as evaluate the offers provided by the bidders. In its report submitted to the PTML, Omnitele rated Nokia at the top followed by Ericsson, Nortel, and Siemens respectively but did not recommend Alcatel for this job. Omnitel also backed the financial package offered by Nokia, which had assured 85 percent of financing from China Construction Bank at five per cent per annum with loan maturity period of eight years and a further grace period of at least two years. “Nokia’s implementation proposal is realistic and well-suited for implementing the GSM turn-key project,” the consultant company’s report said describing Nokia’s solution as technically the most favorable among the five bidders. Click to View Omnitele Report
The consultant company said that although Nortel could offer comprehensive selection of services and features to implements in their GSM networks, “However, their main strength is in the fixed communication network”. Omintele also pointed out that despite repeated requests Nortel failed to provide detailed description of the Comguard system, nor offered any digital cross-connect equipments, estimation fore the category-3 site preparation costs, any tool for network element planning and cost optimization neither provided any price information for measurement instruments. However, this report was not circulated among the members of the Board of PTML causing anxiety among them. “It is rather unfortunate that the evaluation report of the consultants and the tender evaluation report was not provided to the members of the Board,” wrote an agitated Board member Malik Muhammad Saeed Khan in a letter addressed to the Chairman of the Board. He claimed that his letter also reflected the views of Mr Abdullah Yusuf, Secretary Planning/ Member PTML Board. Click to View Saeed Khan letter
While Nokia had offered to set up 184 GSM Base Stations, Nortel offered to set up only 150. The equalization difference was worked out to be around $ 7million, as claimed by Nokia in a letter written to the PTML Board. Nokia claimed that only this difference made its bid lowest in price amongst all. Despite these facts, the government asked Nortel to lower its bid, which agreed to come down to $50.7 million (excluding duties). Nokia on the other hand offered to further lower its bid by $10 million bringing it down to $44.9 million (excluding duties) but its offer was ignored on orders of Musharraf's Chief of Staff. Nokia had also written earlier to Lt. Gen Amjad, Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB), who carried out investigations to unearth the irregularities and concluded that the process had been done irregularly and Nokia should have been the lowest, technically compliant and superior solution than Nortel. In response to NAB’s conclusive report, the Chief Executive Secretariat first directed the PTML Board to reopen negotiations with Nokia, in addition to Nortel but later reversed its own directive by saying that NAB had reported nothing irregular in the evaluation process. The Chinese were so annoyed, their ambassador in Islamabad, Mr Lu Shulin, personally wrote a letter to General Pervez Musharraf on February 20, 2000, saying the Chinese government was very much interested in the project to help Pakistan. He sought Musharraf's intervention but the deal had probably been finalized and it could no longer be reversed. The Ambassador's intervention remained fruitless. Click to View Ambassador's letter Page1
The PTML Board members also objected to giving the project to Nortel and said that after Nokia’s offer to lower its bid, it was cheaper by $2 million than that of Nortel. “If that be the case, the tender evaluation committee will need to go into depth of this offer as well and bring up the facts before the PTML Board before a considered decision is taken,” the letter written by a Board member to his Chairman said. The “active participation” of the Chief Executive’s office in this “shady deal” has raised many questions. The main question which remained unanswered is why this undue favor was given to one company, even to the extent that a friend like China was ignored. Did the project serve the national interest or someone's self interest?
A GLIMPSE OF "ACROSS THE BOARD ACCOUNTABILITY"
Book shines light on Pakistan military's '£10bn empire' Declan Walsh in Islamabad The Guardian, Thursday 31 May 2007 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/may/31/books.pakistan
· Business interests range from cement to cornflakes
· Little transparency into officer-led conglomerates
The Pakistani military's private business empire could be worth as much as £10bn, according to a ground-breaking study. Retired and serving officers run secretive industrial conglomerates, manufacture everything from cement to cornflakes, and own 12m acres [4.8m hectares] of public land, says Dr Ayesha Siddiqa, author of Military Inc: Inside Pakistan's Military Economy. The book tackles a previously taboo subject - the range and depth of the military's business interests - considered a major factor in the ambitions of the generals who have ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 60-year history. "It feeds directly into the military's political power; it's an expression of their personal and organisation strength," said Ms Siddiqa, a former director of research at the Pakistan navy.
Five giant conglomerates, known as "welfare foundations", run thousands of businesses, ranging from street corner petrol pumps to sprawling industrial plants. The main street of any Pakistani town bears testament to their economic power, with military-owned bakeries, banks, insurance companies and universities, usually fronted by civilian employees. Ms Siddiqa estimates that the military controls one-third of all heavy manufacturing and up to 7% of private assets.
Profits are supposed to be pumped back into schools, hospitals and other welfare facilities - the military claims it has 9 million beneficiaries - but there is little transparency. "There is little evidence that pensioners are benefiting from these welfare facilities," she said.
Of the 96 businesses run by the four largest foundations, only nine file public accounts. The generals spurn demands by parliament to account for public monies they spend.
The military's penetration into society has accelerated under President Pervez Musharraf, who has also parachuted 1,200 officers into key positions in public organisations such as universities and training colleges. The military boasts that it can run such organisations better than incompetent and corrupt civilians.
In a 2004 speech to open a new industry owned by the Fauji ("Soldier") Foundation, General Musharraf boasted of "exceptional" military-owned banks, cement and fertiliser plants. "Why is anyone jealous if the retired military officers or the civilians with them are doing a good job contributing to the economy?" he said.
But Ms Siddiqa says the military businesses thrive, thanks to invisible state subsidies in the form of free land, the use of military assets, and loans to bail them out when they run into trouble. "There are gross inefficiencies and the military is mired in crony capitalism. The primary purpose of a trained military is war fighting. They are not designed for the corporate sector."
Her £10bn estimate of military wealth is a "rough figure", she says, split between £6bn in land and private military assets.
"Military Inc." comes at a sensitive time for Gen Musharraf, who is struggling to rebuild his popularity after the botched dismissal of the chief justice, Muhammad Iftikhar Chaudhry, in March. The move sparked nationwide demonstrations that have snowballed into a powerful protest movement. The furore has offered an insight into the raw power wielded by the generals. This week, Justice Chaudhry told the supreme court how military intelligence chiefs spent hours trying to pressure him to quit on March 9, before placing him under effective house arrest.
Ms Siddiqa fears her book, which names names and pours cold water on boastful claims, may step on some powerful toes. "Over the past three years a lot of my friends have advised me not to publish this book. They think I have suicidal tendencies."
But Talat Hussain, a retired general and political analyst, said Ms Siddiqa was a "courageous" researcher. "This area has always been considered a sacred cow in our society," he said.
The book will be launched in Islamabad today. The main military spokesman, Major General Waheed Arshad, said he had not yet obtained a copy. "Let me read it and then I'll get back to you," he said.
The 650,000-strong military has been at the heart of power since Pakistan was carved from northern India in 1947. Generals seized power in 1958 and have ruled intermittently since. The main intelligence service, the ISI, has consistently meddled in politics. Three-quarters of all army recruits come from Punjab, reflecting a similar imbalance in the country's power structures. The army's reputation for professionalism stretches back to colonial days, but has been eroded by business-related corruption allegations and three wars with India, including the loss of its eastern half, with the independence of Bangladesh in 1971.
Cover Story The New Land Barons? By Ayesha Siddiqa Abdul Karim waited in the heat outside the Supreme Court for his case to be heard. Sitting miles away from his village in Bahawalpur, the poor peasant was contesting his right over three kanals (0.375 acres) of land that had already been awarded to him through an administrative decision. He had tilled the land for years and he was deemed to be the rightful owner.
However, the land was subsequently transferred to Brigadier (Retd.) Muhammad Bashir, through another administrative order. The transfer of land to the army brigadier was part of the 33,866 acres of land given to the Army GHQ in 1993 in Bahawalpur by the provincial government. The Punjab government had transferred the land without checking its title. Out of the total land given to the army, the said brigadier got 396 kanals (49.5 acres) of land, out of which about three kanals belonged to Abdul Karim.
Brigadier Bashir contested Karim's ownership in the High Court, but the court upheld Karim's title. Not satisfied with the court's decision, Bashir filed an appeal with the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court of Pakistan also upheld Abdul Karim's ownership.
In its eagerness to favour military authorities, the district government representatives had given Abdul Karim's land to the army. Moreover, the local administration sided with the brigadier to disprove the respondent's claim over the stated land.
The Supreme Court admonished the district collector for acting capriciously and for arbitrarily transferring land that was marked as land not available for allotment. While upholding Abdul Karim's right to cultivate the land, the court also reproached the retired brigadier for impinging upon the rights of a poor peasant. In a historic judgment passed in September 2003, the Supreme Court bench warned against greed and forcibly and illegally depriving poor people of their rights.
Amazingly, Abdul Karim received justice not because he had the means to take legal action, but because Brigadier Bashir wanted his land and took the case to court. It's unlikely that this historic judgment will help many other poor villagers, though, as the only way for them to benefit from this landmark judgement would be to initiate expensive legal proceedings.
The people of the small fishing village of Mubarik were not as fortunate as Abdul Karim. Situated near the Sindh-Balochistan border, their village adjoining the sea was once their territory. For over five years now, they have watched as their land has been slowly pulled away from under their feet. Generations of their families have lived there peacefully as fishermen, but no longer. A few years back, the villagers found that they could no longer move freely on their own land. The Pakistan Navy (PN) ordered the residents of Mubarik village to limit themselves to a small area. But that wasn't the only restriction. They were also told not to construct houses on the land because the adjoining land fell within the range of the navy's target-practice range.
The villagers claim that the PN broke a promise and extended its presence beyond a point that was previously assured by the navy to be the limit of their expansion. In fact, the PN has continued to expand its presence despite the fact that there is no provision in the existing rules for a naval cantonment. Meanwhile, the uneducated villagers are unable to contest their rights: they neither know the law, nor have the money to take legal action.
They are not the only ones in this country in the same predicament. Up against elite groups, like the armed forces, poor villagers neither have the means nor the knowledge to defend their own property, the land they inhabit and cultivate. Despite the efforts of some parliamentarians to flag the issue of the military land ownership in the country, there is insufficient information available on the issue. However, one thing is clear: over the years, the armed forces have become major players in Pakistan's real estate business.
The military, including its serving and retired members, own massive tracts of land in rural as well as urban centres. They believe that the distribution of land amongst military personnel, particularly within the various housing schemes, denotes the defence establishment's superior capacity at managing resources. However, the mechanics behind the issue are not so simple. Is the allocation of military land nothing more than a tradition inherited from the British to reward defence services personnel? Or should the acquisition of land by the military be viewed in the larger perspective of the power the armed forces wield over the state and its resources?
Since the early 1950s, the military has acquired millions of acres of land throughout the country for distribution to serving and retired armed forces personnel. According to one estimate, the armed forces control about 12 million acres, constituting about 12 per cent of total state land. Out of this, 62 per cent is in the Punjab, 27 per cent in Sindh and 11 per cent in NWFP and Balochistan. About seven million acres of the total is agricultural land and has an estimated worth of Rs700 billion. Interestingly, only about 100,000 acres are directly controlled by the armed forces and its subsidiary companies, the Fauji Foundation, the AWT and the Bahria Foundation, and distributed amongst serving and retired personnel. The remainder was given (at highly subsidised rates) to army personnel as awards to be used for their personal gratification.
Granting agricultural land as a reward to individuals is a tradition inherited from the British. The Punjab Alienation of Land Act, 1900 ensured the use of canal colony land as a means to reward those serving British interests. According to Imran Ali, professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, in his book, The Punjab Under Imperialism, land was granted to indigenous communities under various schemes, such as offering land grants to raise horses that could then be acquired by the British cavalry. Following the principle of rewarding the 'faithful,' the Alienation of Land Act specifically stipulated allocation of 10 per cent of colonised land to the armed forces. This process of land development was incorporated later in another law known as the Colonisation of Land Act, 1912, which was updated by the Pakistan government in 1965. The law had a feudal underpinning and was based on perpetuating various local social classes that would guarantee the interests of the imperial masters. Today, the land distribution policy is still deeply rooted in this colonial logic, with the military monopolising the state's resources and continuing to offer land in exchange for allegiance to the state. Moreover, this policy is central to the problematic centre-provinces relations. The smaller provinces, in particular, are wary of the land distribution scheme that empowers Punjab versus other provinces.
For decades, land has been transferred to military personnel under the aforementioned law. The military was given 10 per cent of the approximately nine million acres of land reclaimed due to the construction of the Kotri, Guddu and Ghulam Mohammad barrages in Sindh. The government also gave land to some senior civil bureaucrats, who were the military regime's partners. Some of the prominent beneficiaries of the land reclamation scheme from the armed forces included General Ayub Khan (247 acres), General Muhammad Musa (250 acres), and Maj. General Umrao Khan (246 acres). After the military's takeover in October 1958, more land was allotted to army officers in the Guddu Barrage area. Also, agricultural land was given in the Punjab. What is even more important, however, is the fact that the land alloted to military officers was developed with foreign aid - military and economic aid from the US. Reportedly, the finance minister of Punjab, Nawab Iftikhar Hussain Mamdot, justified the use of foreign aid for land development because the money was meant for the army.
The stated logic says that armed forces personnel will be more dedicated towards developing land. This, however, has not been the case. In south Punjab, where land is often awarded to officers and soldiers that do not hail from the area, the tendency is to engage in absentee landlordism or sell the land to the highest bidder. The buyers are usually local landlords. Thus, there is no incentive to reduce the strength of the big landlords, a major problem associated with the continuation of feudalism in the country. Naturally, many big farmers do not object to the military's rural land acquisition.
However, the distribution of land alone does not empower people unless they are also provided access to three additional resources: water, farm-to-market roads and equipment to develop the land. Such facilities are only provided to senior military officers or the civil bureaucracy. In the case of south Punjab, senior military officers monopolise the three resources to their advantage. A number of army, naval and air chiefs even had serving armed forces personnel guard their lands. They, like the big land owners, use influence to gain access to the road networks and water. Lower ranking soldiers tend to leave their lands barren or sell them to the local landlords. In any case, the senior officers get more land than the junior officers and the jawans.
Any way one looks at it, this monopolisation of resources is unfair in a country where there are about 30 million landless peasants. Obviously, providing land to the landless and empowering them through provision of land developmental facilities has not been a priority of the state. In any case, as pointed out by economist Akbar Zaidi in his book, Issues in Pakistan's Economy, the land reforms during the Ayub and Bhutto eras did not benefit the poor. About 39 per cent of the land recovered during the Bhutto land reforms was never distributed among the landless.
The military's control of land feeds the largest social injustice in the country: widespread poverty. Like the feudal class, the military has been known to use its power to redistribute land amongst its own without any regard for the country's poor ethnic populations. In Bahawalpur, there are instances when land developed through years of hard work by landless peasants has been snatched away for distribution to the military bureaucracy. In the tehsil of Nawazabad, the government awarded about 2,500 acres to various military personnel. Hundreds of landless peasants were evicted from state lands after occupying it for years without incident. In an interview, these peasants protested against being evicted from the land they had partially developed and reclaimed from the desert without even a fair hearing. When the peasants took their case to court, junior military officers threatened them, ridiculed the law and advised the peasants that even the courts could not save them from the army's authority. To the villagers of Nawazabad, there was no difference between the dominant feudal lords and the praetorian military. One local woman bitterly demanded, "If there is no place for us here then [the authorities] should put us on a truck and drop us in India."
The case of Nawazabad is not an anomaly. Other places and people have also experienced the use of force by the military to obtain land for personal or operational purposes. In Yunisabad, near Karachi, the Pakistan Navy took forcible possession of the floating jetty - and the land on which it was built - that belonged to the village and was used to transport locals, especially the sick. For villagers from nearby Shamspir, the jetty was their only access point to land. A writ petition was filed with the Sindh High Court against the "illegal act of the navy" and several letters were written to the district administration highlighting human rights abuses by the PN.
Reportedly, there were occasions where local villagers were harassed and beaten up. The Navy failed to honour the court order not to interfere with public traffic.
Across the country, there are many examples of the military wielding absolute authority to suppress landless peasants in areas where they directly control the land. In Okara, a conflict ensued between local tenants and the army that had unilaterally decided to change the terms of contract from share-cropping to rent-in-cash. While share-cropping pertains to an arrangement whereby the tenants share both the input and the output with the owner or whoever controls the land, the rent-in-cash arrangement dictates that land is cultivated in exchange for money, or rent. The additional benefit of share-cropping to the tenant is that his right over the land is recognised by law. The Okara farm tenants, who had resided on the land and were responsible for tilling it, feared the new system of contract would empower the army, who were not even the owners of the land, to displace the poor tenants from their homes.
The Okara farms are part of the military farms group, Okara and Renala, which comprise 16,627 acres of land consisting of two dairy farms, seven military (oat-hay) farms and 22 villages. The prime proprietor is evidently the Punjab government, which leases the land to other people or institutions. In this particular case, the army had changed the terms of contract for land it did not own. Moreover, the land lease had expired before Partition in 1947 not to be renewed again. To enforce its authority, the Rangers besieged the villages twice, imposed curfew, restricted freedom of movement, stopped supply of medicine, food and vegetables, and used numerous other pressure tactics. The report of Human Rights Watch has detailed testimonials of villagers victimised by the military authorities that were generally dismissive of the protest. Army personnel claimed that, rather than being a human rights issue, this was a local law and order issue incited by some NGOs.
Commenting on the Okara farms case, the Director-General, Inter-Services Press Relations (ISPR), Maj. General Shaukat Sultan, said, "The needs of the army will be decided by the army itself, and/or the government will decide this. Nobody [else] has the right to say what the army can do with 5,000 acres or 17,000 acres. The needs of the army will be determined by the army itself."
However, the Okara incident was not an issue of how the army determined the usage of its land. This, like many other cases, is about the illegal use of military authority to change the legal nature of the land under its control. The army follows the practice of changing the usage of A-1 land specifically meant for operational purposes, to profit-making or for personal gratification of the officer cadre and other elite. In the Punjab, farm land has been turned into golf courses and residential housing schemes. Debates in Parliament over the past couple of years have shown that some camping grounds that the army had arbitrarily turned into golf courses were not designed for public use, but only to please a select few.
In its official response to parliamentary questions regarding the misuse of state land by the military, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) did not challenge the army's authority. The ministry upheld the army's jurisdiction over land under its control. This was done in other cases as well, such as the conversion of the firing range in Nowshehra into a citrus farm. The army vociferously defends its power over these assets and even controls information regarding these agricultural assets.
Since 9/11, there has been a noticeable boom in the value of urban real estate in the country. One of the largest beneficiaries, of course, is the military, which has engaged in the practice of converting land titles from state land to private property. It does this via two methods.
Firstly, there is the conversion of state land for private usage. A large amount of state land designated as A-1 land in various cantonments is distributed to military personnel. Here, it must be mentioned that the beneficiaries are the officers and not the soldiers. The 27 housing schemes built on state land in different parts of the country are reserved for the officer cadre, not the jawans.
The practice of urban land grabbing began soon after 1947 when military officers acquired evacuee property in the cantonment areas. During the days of the British, all cantonments were private property or owned by the provincial governments. It was mostly the land where the barracks were built that was owned by the MoD. The officers acquired the land on a transferable lease for a period of 99 years. The 99-year lease is extendable, especially in cases where military officers own the property.
According to a report submitted by the MoD to the Senate, about 78,292 square yards, or16.3 acres, totalling 130 residential plots, were given to an equal number of officers in different cities in a period from October 1999 to 2003. The report highlighted a series of cases where residential plots were carved out of state land meant for operational purposes. The cities included Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi, as well as smaller towns such as Kharian and Jhelum. The ranks of the beneficiaries varied from a full general to a captain. Quantitatively, the distribution was fairly even, with senior, middle-ranking and junior officers getting 46, 36 and 48 plots respectively. However, the plot sizes for senior officers were much bigger than what junior officers received. Generals of all categories received plots of 800 square yards, while plot sizes for captains were less than 500 square yards.
The cantonment area in Lahore, which, up until the early 1980s, comprised a large segment of army training grounds and firing ranges, was almost entirely converted into a residential area. In effect, army exercise and training grounds were converted from public to private use without the consent of the government or the public for whose safety the land was initially provided. This was, of course, done through an internal decision-making process rather than through consultations with the government. In fact, a major complaint is that decisions involving major military housing projects are always made when Parliament is not in session.
Such arbitrary redistribution raises concerns about misuse of state land, especially cantonment land. Major cantonments include Lahore (12,000 acres), Karachi (12,000 acres), Rawalpindi (8,000 acres), Kamra (3,500 acres), Taxila (2,500 acres), Peshawar (4,000 acres) and Quetta (2,500 acres). The fear is that most will ultimately be commercialised. In fact, Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi and Peshawar cantonments are no longer restricted army areas. Much property has already been resold to civilians. In Lahore, officers were given ownership of large residential properties in the cantonment area. A conservative estimate of the worth of the cantonment land in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta is approximately 300 billion rupees.
The transfer of one portion of Karachi's National Stadium to the Karachi Cantonment Board is a prime example of military land-grabbing. The Corps Commander Mangla, Lt. General Tauqeer Zia, who was also the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Control Board (PCCB), was responsible for transferring the said land during his tenure as head of the PCCB. The financial dividends were superb. A minimum investment of 600,000 rupees netted a profit of about 15 million in a quick 60 to 90 days. Such manipulative capacity is only available to the most influential institutions or individuals in the country.
President Pervez Musharraf, however, claims that all is fair in real estate and military governance: "So, what is the problem if they [the armed forces] are contributing to town development here, or anywhere in Pakistan, for that matter? In Lahore, in Rawalpindi - their output is the best. The defence societies everywhere are the top societies of Pakistan…now, why are we jealous of this? Why are we jealous if somebody gets a piece of land, a kanal of land, cheap when it was initially, and because of the good work done by the society, the price rises by 100 times, and the man then earns some money. What is the problem? Why are we jealous of this? There's no problem at all."
The General conveniently forgot a certain key fact. The officer cadre pays minimum charges for this urban property. For housing schemes built on state land, in particular, the deduction from the salaries of officers goes towards subsidising construction. The officers are charged a minimal price for the value of the land itself - nothing even remotely close to the market value. It must be noted that contrary to the view that urban land is given when the city is underdeveloped, the land in large urban centres of Karachi and Lahore were given long after the cantonment areas had been developed and property prices had appreciated.
The military land manual is very specific about the use of the land falling in the cantonments or around it. There are about seven types of land managed by the Department of Military Lands and Cantonments. Most of the land mentioned is A-1. This category of land is defined as land meant purely for military purpose such as fortification, barracks, stores, arsenals, aerodromes, housing for military, parade grounds, military recreation grounds, rifle ranges, grass and dairy farms, brick fields, hospitals and gardens for use by the armed forces. Then there is A-2 category of land not actually used or occupied by the military, but used for non-essential activities such as recreation. The 'B' type lands are again divided into four sub-categories: B-1, B-2, B-3 and B-4. The B-1 type lands are owned and controlled by the federal government but used for churches, mosques, cemeteries and other ecclesiastical affairs. B-2, on the other hand, is owned by the provincial government and used to generate revenue. The last type, B-3, is private land, but where bazaars, religious buildings, or communal graveyards can also be built. The military land manual stipulates due compensation to the owner in case of acquisition of land by the government. B-4 comprises all such land not falling in any of the above three types. Finally, there is 'C' class and that contains drains and roadside plots. The categorisation of the land cannot be changed without the authority of the actual owner. That, in any case, is not a major issue. Given the military's power, such transformation of land usage has never been seriously challenged.
Interestingly, senior generals tend to ignore the legal debate. Instead, they believe that the armed forces have a right to use the land under their control in whatever manner the organisation deems fit. In the words of Maj. General Shaukat Sultan, "We don't build houses or other projects on state land but on military land." The general seems conveniently oblivious to the fact that all military land is essentially state land with specific rules governing its usage.
Consequently, most major cantonments have got into the habit of making markets and commercial plazas on state land for lease. Several senior retired generals have justified these ventures on the grounds that other armed forces, such as China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), are also involved in profit-making ventures. The PLA, however, was ordered to divest its commercial interests in 1998 to restore professionalism in the armed forces. Moreover, unlike the Pakistan military, the Chinese military is a revolutionary force that had to make 'both ends meet' since Beijing did not provide it with the requisite financial resources.
The defence housing authorities in major cities, or the housing schemes run by the Bahria and Fauji Foundations, represent yet another method of dabbling in real estate. Contrary to the view held by military personnel that these housing schemes are welfare or private ventures that basically show the superior management skills of the armed forces, there is a lot of manipulation involved in the acquisition of land. The DHA in Lahore, which came under a lot of flak due to the stories of rampant corruption, acquired land through offering plots to the owners of farm land. Of course, the owners of the land had to pay development charges to get ownership of the newly developed urban property. The DHA, meanwhile, did not have to pay money to purchase the land.
In the ever-growing DHA in Rawalpindi, there were even reports of the owners being forced to sell their land. The tehsil office refused to issue land revenue documents to the owners even six months before the land was finally purchased for the extension of the DHA, which is now worth billions of rupees. The dividends are phenomenal. In the case of DHA, Rawalpindi, land totaling 3,375 acres was acquired at a total cost of about Rs11 billion and later sold for approximately Rs135 billion.
However, the infrastructure of these elite schemes is not integrated with planning in the rest of the town. The disparity between elite versus ordinary urban planning is noticeable. It could be argued that such disparities are found across the world, but it becomes more pronounced where elite structures are combined with disproportional political power. While rural areas are being lost to urban centres, there is no effort to create opportunities for the lower middle or the middle class. These housing schemes create opportunities for the elite to make money rather than generate employment opportunities for other social classes. The elite town schemes are primarily residential areas with no provision for industrial or business infrastructure. Moreover, such schemes do not solve the shortage of six million houses presently required in the country, but denote financial investment aimed at filling the pockets of those who have the money to invest.
Referring to the compensation of land, private owners would, perhaps, consider themselves relatively lucky as compared to the state itself. The governments have not been able to exercise control over the transfer of land to the military at very low compensation. Referring to agricultural land, it is usually acquired at the rate of Rs 50 per acre. Similarly, very little is paid in the urban centres.
One of the most recent examples pertains to the acquisition of 1,165 acres of land in 2005 for the Army's GHQ in Islamabad. The land was acquired at the throwaway price of Rs 40 per square yard, which, as the MoD clarified, was legally considered the right compensation for acquisition of land for official purposes. Compensation at market rates would bloat the cost substantially.
It is also worth remembering that the transfer of land to the military deprives the state of a valuable asset. The transfer of state land to individuals, especially, constitutes an expensive subsidy from the state to the defence sector that is never recorded in the financial books.
Surely, it will be difficult to force the senior generals to give up subsidies. In fact, the issue of strengthening democracy in the country is pegged to the question of the economic interests of the senior echelons of the defence services, which have grown fat on such economic benefits.
Urban and rural real estate is one sector used for personal gratification. The military's perspective is that it uses a system of merit to reward lands to individuals. This might be true, but the system does not explain how most senior officers end up piling up numerous properties worth millions of rupees.
The power and authority of the armed forces is central to the redistribution of land, while its political power is central to acquiring state land or private property. Given the history of land distribution in the country, it can be argued that the 93 million acres of state land are under constant threat of occupation by the military and other elite groups.
Monopolisation of state land by a favoured few is counter-productive to the development of the state and the well-being of the general public. This is an issue that demands a serious debate and re-consideration of policies related to the distribution of national resources.
In the historic Abdul Karim Supreme Court judgement, the judges endorsed the following quotation from John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath and cautioned against accumulation of property in the hands of a few:
"And the great owner, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands, it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into fewer hands, the number of the dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression. The money was spent for arms, for gas to protect the great holdings, and spies were sent to catch the murmuring of revolt so that it might be stamped out. The changing economy was ignored, plans for the change ignored; and only means to destroy revolt were considered, while the causes of revolt went on."
While Abdul Karim got justice, this decision of the Supreme Court was not used as a precedence to be applied in other cases as well.
Ayesha Siddiqa is an independent defence analyst and author of the upcoming book, Military Inc. The Politics of Military Economy: A Case Study of Pakistan. REFERENCE: Cover Story The New Land Barons? By Ayesha Siddiqa http://www.newsline.com.pk/NewsJul2006/cover1jul2006.htm