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July 2, 2019

An unwritten NRO continues to protect Musharraf’s rule corruption

Top Story

July 2, 2019

ISLAMABAD: An unwritten NRO continues to protect the alleged corruption cases of General (R) Pervez Musharraf’s tenure even during the PTI regime.

Like the PPP and PML-N last governments, the ruling PTI regime shows no interest to get the alleged corruption cases of Musharraf tenure probed. NAB’s policy of turning a blind eye to alleged mega corruption cases of Musharraf’s tenure also remains unchanged.

Whether it was 2005 Stock Exchange swindle, the Pakistan Steels Mills privatisation, 2006 sugar scam, financial bungling in multi-billion rupee clean drinking water project, alleged kickbacks in defence procurement including PAF surveillance aircraft deal, the doling out of military land to political leaders and his (Musharraf’s) personal staff, alleged corruption in 2005 earthquake funds, ghost pension scandal, controversial sale of Pakistan’s property in Jakarta or the unconstitutional appointments made by the dictator nothing is being probed.

The politicians are though being probed for their alleged assets beyond known means, no keenness is shown to ask General (R) Pervez Musharraf how he made assets, both within the country and outside, worth billions of rupees.

The NAB has details but lacks the enthusiasm to probe how General (R) Pervez Musharraf had doled out over 10,000 kanals of military land, meant for war veterans and families of martyred soldiers, to frontmen of some of his political opponents, non-entitled army men and dozens of civilian officials including his cook, barber, butler, gunmen and other members of his personal staff.

This huge chunk of military land in Punjab and KP provinces was allotted to non-entitled civilians and soldiers by the GHQ following orders from the then General (R) Pervez Musharraf. Over two dozens of staff members and officials attached with Musharraf during his stay in Presidency were also allotted hundreds of kanals of military land.

In case of the allotment of 6,700 kanals of military land in the Punjab to 47 civilian officials of the provincial government during Musharraf’s rule, a reference was made to the military authorities by Shahbaz Sharif government in 2008-09 to cancel the anomalous transfer.

With regard to the land given to non-military personnel including frontmen of a few politicians in Dera Ismail Khan during the Musharraf regime, it was admitted by the military spokesman several years back that the allotments had no legal sanction but despite this flagrant illegality committed by the military dictator and former president no case was made against him.

In Punjab 47 civilian officials (mostly belonging to the Revenue Department) were allotted 6,700 kanals of military land during Musharraf’s regime. Most of these officials were made OSD by Shahbaz Sharif government during his 2008-2013 term. The Punjab government had also formally approached the military authorities to get the controversial allocations cancelled.

The Punjab government was of the view that the civilian beneficiaries had been rewarded for going beyond the call of duty in facilitating the entire process. Similarly, no criminal action was taken against those well-connected players of the 2005 Stock Exchange scam which, according to the conclusions of an official committee, had swallowed $13 billion of ordinary shareholders and middlemen during Musharraf tenure.

It was alleged that some 80 beneficiaries, including many having close association with military ruler Musharraf, had multiplied their fortunes by manipulating the scam. However, they were neither probed nor arrested to get back from them the alleged plundered billions.

In another case, the Musharraf government had launched a countrywide project called the Clean Drinking Water Scheme with the promise that one clean drinking water plant would be installed in every union council across the country till December 2007. Initially, it was Rs7.7 billion project but was later raised to Rs16 billion.

Similarly, a Rs3.6 billion Tawana Pakistan project, providing school nutrition package to girls in 29 districts of the country, went down the drain because of the involvement of a blue-eyed minister of Musharraf, but NAB was never allowed to question the minister.

The Pakistan Steel Mills privatisation, which was abandoned by the government following the Supreme Court’s order, was a case of serious charge-sheet against Musharraf and his close associates, who had almost sold this national asset to their close friends for peanuts. As per the Supreme Court’s judgment, the privatisation process was defrauded, but no action was taken against anyone.

In 2006, NAB under Lt-Gen (R) Shahid Aziz wanted to probe the sugar scam, involving some ministers of the Musharraf regime, but in this case, too, the bureau was stopped from probing the matter.

Corruption worth hundreds of millions of rupees was detected in the money allocated for the reconstruction work and rehabilitation of the 2005 earthquake victims. Massive corruption in these funds was reported to NAB and also detected by NAB’s Frontier office, but in this case, too, the bureau was asked to stay away.

In 2002, a senior foreign office diplomat, stationed in Jakarta, reported to Islamabad of the alleged kickbacks received in the sale of Pakistani mission’s property in Indonesia at throwaway prices. As a result, the diplomat, minister at the Jakarta mission, was called back, suspended and never restored till his retirement in 2007-08.

During Musharraf tenure, oil mafia was alleged of causing colossal financial losses to the national economy with the connivance of some top players of the military regime. NAB under Musharraf was told of their maneuvering of oil prices to the advantage of the refineries and oil marketing companies, but the bureau was not allowed to cross the limits.

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