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January 20, 2021

A cocktail of corruption

Editorial

 
January 20, 2021

The papers released in the Broadsheet case by a court in London reveal a trail of wrongdoing as well as pressure to change political sides in exchange for money, and a total mishandling of many affairs. The beginning of the matter comes in the deal reached by NAB, then led by General Amjad, with Broadsheet LLC. During this period, an amount of $3.5 million apparently owned by Aftab Sherpao were discovered in a New Jersey account. Later it seems, NAB after General Amjad had left his charge as head of the organisation, stated that Sherpao’s name had been placed on the list of people to be investigated by mistake and that this investigation should never have taken place. Sherpao went on to create the Pakistan People’s Party Patriots and then stand as interior minister, in the Musharraf government.

There are other people on the list, which NAB at various stages told Broadsheet it had dropped. In the case of the Sharifs, an amount of $800 million, or slightly over that sum in the form of properties kept in various countries, the largest amount of them in Pakistan, was sent by Broadsheet to have been unearthed by them. However, as matters failed to proceed, and Pakistan did not give Broadsheet the 20 percent it was supposed to give on the recovery of any assets, Broadsheet moved a case against NAB in a London court and eventually won damages, which total almost $29 million.

So instead of recovering money, Pakistan was to give out money. At the same time, the manner in which NAB has been used politically by the Musharraf government and later by successive governments has also surfaced, while there are now questions of whether the Imran Khan setup is doing just the same. The incompetence is a different issue and shows the state of the public-sector organisations which run our country. NAB apparently paid $1.5 million through its lawyer to a company which was a breakaway of a kind from Broadsheet LLC which had been originally set up in Colorado by an individual called Jerry James.

All this puts into question the manner in which Pakistan handles accountability and its failure to recover money in political cases. The federal cabinet has set up a three-member committee to investigate the Broadsheet affair, headed by Minister for Information Shibli Faraz. A whole member committee of the Senate has also been proposed to investigate the affair, which throws a bright light on what goes on in our country in the name of accountability and how accountability bodies play a part in pressurising political opponents to do the bidding of governments.