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July 31, 2020

Rotten system: Authority with impunity


July 31, 2020

LAHORE: Our system is rotten; the government in power can let off people it likes and put opponents, who might have done nothing, in jail for years. This power is used to coerce dissidents to toe the government line.

We need judicial reforms badly. Under the current system, the judiciary is dependent on the prosecution to bring evidence against any accused.

If the case prepared by the prosecution is weak, the judiciary cannot award proper punishment to the culprit. The prosecution also delays presenting complete challan in courts to prolong the agony of an innocent person accused of any crime.

We have observed this in case of federal minister Swati who had to resign when high handedness of his family was exposed by the media.

But later, the aggrieved party was forced to compromise and withdraw their complaint. Swati managed to escape punishment. He is again a federal minister.

Aleem Khan faced NAB investigation and was arrested for a while, but he too go out on bail in a fraud case worth billions.

He resigned when arrested and assumed charge of his ministry again after bail. Punjab Minister Sibtain was arrested by NAB and granted bail a month or so later.

Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mehmood Khan is accused by NAB of irregularities in Malam Jabba case, but he remains a free man.

Babar Awan got a clean chit from the accountability court as the prosecution did not press charges. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi remained in lock up for over six months before being granted bail.

Saad Rafiq and his brother were grilled for more than six months before the superior court granted them bail and raised question about the capacity and capability of NAB.

Mir Shakil ur Rehman is languishing in jail for the last four months though complete challan is yet to be presented in the accountability court.

Another aspect worth noting is that this government has been plagued with various scandals.

An interesting point in this regard is that in most scandals involving government ministers and advisers, this government established high powered investigation teams.

The sugar report implicated high profile government figures; the wheat report pointed fingers at federal ministers and the provincial authorities.

The petroleum fiasco enquiry has been ordered late though all indications show involvement of government functionaries.

Now the interesting point in this regard is that no concrete action has been taken on these reports.

The sugar barons sought refuge by seeking stay orders.

The superior courts made it clear that sugar inquiry report or not the government has the power to apprehend anyone who violated law. However, this was only lip service. No arrests have been made.

The NAB has looked the other way instead of taking action.

The main accused is comfortably living in his farmhouse in London with his family. Other accused supporting the government are moving freely.

Sugar price in the meanwhile has reached the same level of Rs95/kg that prompted the government to order an inquiry into the sugar fiasco.

We are in the midst of the severest wheat crisis in our history. The government has lost its writ over hoarders and profiteers.

The federal minister accused of wrong doing in the wheat scandal, continues to enjoy his ministry, though his portfolio has been changed. And now the two special advisors to the prime minister have resigned.

Both were accused of wrong doing while enjoying their powers as advisors. No cases have been registered against them. Both would probably leave the country silently the way Jehangir Tarin did.

It seems that this government intentionally ignored the wrongdoings of its ministers and advisors; to use them when its feels heat from the electorate on bad governance.

Sugar inquiry report was flashed to show that government intends taking action against its strongest supporters that did wrong. The report fizzled out with government ministers commending Imran Khan for exposing his friends.

Now it is a history. In fact the government is trying to implicate some opposition members for alleged wrong doings in the past.

Wheat report too is now history. Its release served the purpose, as the government was able to divert attention from many issues.

The economy unfortunately continues to go down and food prices are increasing. The government would have to increase petroleum product rates and power tariff as well.

At this time, the resignation of two advisors and possibly a third one if needed is a strategy to divert attention from actual issues. No one supports judicial activism, but one is left with no option if law is selectively used to protect supporters and nab opponents.