ISLAMABAD: Two of the three prime ministerial candidates of the PPP-led coalition and its only option for the non-existent post of deputy prime minister are haunted by serious criminal and corruption cases.
While Makhdoom Shahabuddin, who was the top bet for the PPP leadership, has been seriously dented by Ephedrine case involving Rs7 billion corruption, Raja Pervez Ashraf, generally referred to as Raja Rental by the media, is required by NAB to prove his innocence in the RPP scam after the Supreme Court verdict.
The alleged involvement of these two prime ministerial candidates in the corruption cases is already in the knowledge of the apex court, which has recently directed in separate cases to proceed against those involved in Ephedrine case or in the RPP’s corruption.
This situation leaves even otherwise the best available choice amongst all the ruling coalition’s candidates - Qamar Zaman Kaira - as a safe bet for the office of the prime minister. Though he too faces a contempt of court case in the Supreme Court, it is not considered a serious one. Additionally he is generally considered clean and decent but these qualifications have not been appreciated at all during the coalition’s 50-month rule.
In the cases of Shahabuddin and Pervez Ashraf, the possible confrontation between the executive and the judiciary would be imminent for the reason that both these candidates have already been negatively portrayed before the Supreme Court in the corruption cases.
The SC while recently hearing the Ephedrine case had directed the ANF to arrest Shahabuddin, who had approved the Ephedrin quota far beyond requirement of the chemical for medicine production. The additional quota was feared to have been misused by the drug barons for narcotics production.
The ANF claims to have undeniable evidence of Shahabuddin’s involvement in the Ephedrine case and apparently for the same reason his arrest warrants were issued by a Rawalpindi magistrate on Thursday. Media reports suggest that Shahabuddin has been dropped as a top choice for the PM office and has been replaced by Raja Pervez Ashraf.
As against Shahabuddin, Raja Pervez Ashraf faces much serious case of corruption - the RPP scam, which has been decided by the Supreme Court itself and found a case of serious corruption.
While deciding the RPPs case, the Supreme Court had directed the NAB to proceed against all the government functionaries, including the ministers for water & power holding charge in 2006 and onward and from 2008 onward, during whose tenure the RPPs were approved/set up and minister as well as secretary finance holding the charge when the down payment was increased from 7% to 14%, violated the principle of transparency.
The SC had ruled that their involvement in getting financial benefits out of the same by indulging in corruption and corrupt practices cannot be overruled in view of the discussion made hereinabove. Consequently, they are liable to be dealt with under the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 by the NAB.