Friday May 24, 2024

Horse-trading vs corruption ridden Pakistan

By Senator Rehman Malik
February 28, 2021

Sitara-e-Shujaat, Nishan-e-Imtiaz

In political terms, horse-trading means illegal buying and selling of parliamentarians in secret deals at the cost of popular mandate and the law of the land. Unfortunately, this evil practice is happening not only during election season but every moment and every day in Pakistan.

The other name of horse-trading means corruption and betrayal to the nation and this is taking place in our country through evasion of taxes and use of ill-gotten money as status symbol which they amass to strengthen their further hold on the national economy and the resources. Since the economic power alone is not sufficient to survive, they invest in parliamentarians to further use them create a place in the parliament which would ultimately save them from the clutches of the law, as and when needed.

A parliamentarian, thus, pushed in the parliament through ill-gotten money would never be in a position to legislate against the interests of such parliamentarians’ product of ill-gotten money.

This ill-gotten money is exchanged among many hands finally reach its destination. In this game of horse-trading, money-changers and hundis play a prominent role who facilitate the corrupt elements to shift their money out of the country to be parked abroad, especially in Middle Eastern countries like UAE and Qatar. The currency mafia plays their role not only for the sake of their commission in money transactions but also acts as a trader to buy the loyalties of the potential parliamentarians. The trading starts by launching another horse from the currency mafia which plays with the fate of the Pak rupees. This mafia also always requires proper support from the mighty political mafia; therefore, the currency mafia invests money in horse-trading to win maximum political support in the parliament. The way the politicians tried to protect the money changers/currency mafia from the clutches of the law when legal action was started against them during my tenure as interior minister, is a matter of record.

There are reports that this time the hub of horse-trading will be Dubai, Sharjah and Qatar, as, reportedly, a huge amount of ill-gotten Pak money is parked there. One has to only wait and see if the rate of a horse goes higher than Rs700 million — the prime minister had already claimed the price of a political horse as Rs700 million — due to the devaluation of Pak rupees. The traders have already geared up their dealings and are actively pitching their deals for their favourite horses.

Horse-trading in Pakistani politics was introduced in the 90s when a huge amount of money from one banker namely Yousaf Habib was taken for distribution amongst politicians to buy their loyalties against SMBB, a democratically elected prime minister of Pakistan. Unfortunately, the episodes of horse-trading are still being echoed in the politics of Pakistan.

I had arrested members of this mafia including Younus Habib — the pioneer in dolling out the public money for horse-trading—when I was director of FIA, and a plain reading of his diary indicated that half of our politician across the board have their names in the diary as the beneficiaries of Younis Habib, including one Yousuf Ali and one of my the then deputy director. As a result of this investigation, subsequently, I faced a very tough time including one year in Adiala Jail which is matter of record and will give the details some other time.

I also remember how the computer discs, retrieved from the office of Younas Habib, were ordered to be destroyed after the fall of PPP govt. I also remember the names of those who were saved from prosecution for their involvement in horse-trading.

The horse-trading between the government and the opposition political parties is called ‘JOR TOR’ in our political language. This is also an invisible kind of horse-trading and big money is exchanged to make the government and to remain in power.

Visible players of political horse-trading are the mighty and influential horse traders who use private jet to avoid the visibility of suitcase carrying cash full of currency notes and to conceal the identity of the smiling carriers feeling proud for doing these illegal acts for their masters. Private jets have become an important tool for horse-trading in order to conduct the trading with the jet speed. The media is full of such reports of the use of jets in horse-trading.

The use of ill-gotten money in horse trading is to switch the loyalties and to steal the mandate of a common man. Unfortunately, the horse-trading business, which was introduced by politicians and the bureaucracy, has now changed hands, from politicians and bureaucracy to drug mafia, developers mafia & hundi mafia and they have triangular interlink among each other.

I had already written a detailed article under the heading of ‘National vote under Auction’ which appeared in Pak media and unfortunately, everything mentioned in the said article has turned out to be true in the recent by-elections throughout the country. Now the forthcoming Senate elections are also definitely going to be infected. Horse trading may also be named as “Horse trading Covid-20” as it has infected our politics very badly and public is losing its faith in elections and their representatives. The wealthy applicant and mighty politicians have already started their game, which started from the issuance of ordinances and purchase of votes almost at all level.

Our country is being run through multiple kinds of horse-trading mafia which is deep-rooted in many political parties, administrative structures and banking. Can we point out a single department that is free of horse-trading/corruption as an ugly horse of corruption is in every department? The demand from those who matter continues demand to create the opportunities of corruption and finally, the expert horse traders play their game and this illegal money finally lands with some politicians these politicians use this illegal proceed to energise the horse-trading.

It is unfortunately a new trend that many political parties either want their personal servants as parliamentarians or those which are emerged through horse trading. We have strange type of politics in our country which is close to Mughal Empire and Darbari politics is the most paying and popular. It is again unfortunate that we have no fool proof system to punish such horse traders as there is no law to control it. The businessmen with illegal proceeds bribe the rulers and bureaucrats in novel ways depending on their needs which could be emotional or unlimited greed of cash. The law is weaker than the horse-trading mafias, which makes the loud voice of law and the parliament voiceless.

Horse-trading cannot be hunted down unless the illegal money lying in the accounts is not identified and seized and it should be seized at the tax department level. We yet notice that the huge amount/illegal proceeds from the artificial shortage of petrol/diesel, Sugar illegal proceed and illegal smuggling of atta is getting its way to Afghanistan and funds move via hundi to Dubai and Canada but where are our law enforcers and the government of the time? There is no doubt that the mafia members through ill-gotten stand fully protected through horse traded parliamentarians.

I think it is incumbent on every member of the society to voice against those who are making the Pak system voiceless, not only via horse-trading but also against the mega corruption cases. Join me to voice it together and I promise that my pen will not stop to expose them irrespective of their influence as I had exposed similar characters in the past.

Chief election commission is required to bring new legislation, covering the evil of rigging, horse-trading and new election laws for elections within the party and for horse-trading as these reforms will drive us to the right path of democracy. I pose a question to Pakistanis to respond if there is any democracy in our country as per the western defined democratic system. The political parties have subjective selection on the basis of ““mera banda” system and not on the merit. I have seen the leaders of MNA/MPAs who cannot even dare to sit with the party head or boss on the dining table. I have seen MNAs and senators serving tea to the guests of the political head with tray in their hands.

If no reforms in the election laws are made then unfortunately, election crimes and horse-trading will become open bidding and parliament door will be shut for middle class people.

We need democratic leaders with ability to take the country out of the crises who are able to weed out horse trading for ever and not the leaders with dictatorial doctrine for promoting corruption and answerable to the public. These are my personal views and do not necessarily represent the views of my party.

The writer is former interior minister of Pakistan, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Chairman of Think Tank "Global Eye" associated with Institute of National Reforms. He can be reached at:, Twitter @Senrehmanmalik