Tuesday January 18, 2022

Fraudulent practices

November 19, 2021

It has been quite some time since the Sharif family was found to be the owners of properties and businesses worth billions of rupees which could not be traced to any legitimate source of income. During the course of the consequent trial, multiple attempts were made to justify the ownership of these assets, but each was found to be unsustainable.

One would recall two addresses to the nation of the then prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, where he played the innocent. Then there was a statement made from the floor of parliament in a similar vein. The Qatari letter, the use of the Calibri font and submission of scores of fake affidavits were rejected. It all culminated in the sentencing of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, Maryam, to varying periods of incarceration and fines. They were also declared ineligible for life from taking part in politics.

Nawaz was able to flee the country on the basis of producing a fake medical report regarding the condition of his health while Maryam has been out on the basis of a suspended sentence to enable her to look after her (allegedly) ailing father who has since long been gone.

There was also this attempt to exploit Judge Arshad on the basis of a compromising video that Maryam had secured from her rather dubious sources. Another similar case has now come forth regarding an affidavit submitted by a former judge of the Gilgit-Baltistan High Court in which he has accused an ex-chief justice of Pakistan, Saqib Nisar, to have allegedly ordered one of his subordinate judges not to grant bails to Nawaz Sharif and Maryam before the holding of 2018 elections. Along with other tell-tale marks, it has transpired that the two affidavits concerning the medical report of Nawaz Sharif and Rana Shamim’s statement were notarised by the same notary public. This compromises the credibility of the affidavit and also establishes that the Sharif family comprises people who are inveterate manipulators. They would go to any length to advance their case irrespective of whether there is even a shred of truth in their contention or not.

The chief justice of the Islamabad High Court has issued show-cause notices to Rana Shamim and those who published the news without due verification, thus making a defamatory statement against the judiciary. The next hearing has been fixed for November 26. It would not be out of place to mention here that, like so many others of dubious character and background, Rana Shamim was also appointed the chief judge of the Gilgit-Baltistan High Court by Nawaz Sharif during one of his stints in power.

The Sharif family has a tradition of manipulating the judiciary to their advantage. From conveying instructions to judges on the phone (Justice Qayyum) for issuing specific orders against their political opponent (Benazir Bhutto), despatching another judge (Rafiq Tarar) to Quetta with loads of cash as a bribe to secure an order against the then sitting chief justice (CJP) of the Supreme Court (SC), the drama played on till the apex court was attacked by PML-N goons to send the CJP packing. Rafiq Tarar was later rewarded with the office of presidency in lieu of demeaning services rendered.

The latest attempt to influence the court comes in the shape of this fictitious affidavit to render the proceedings controversial regarding the cancellation of bail granted to Maryam Nawaz and her own appeal against the punishment awarded to her. This is a sinister and well-thought-out plan to escape the dragnet of justice as the members of this family have been doing in the past. It is a test for the courts, more specifically the one that is hearing the current cases, to come good on the concept of administering justice irrespective of the pressures exerted and Machiavellian tricks employed by a breed of criminals who have traditionally swayed the direction of law their way through the use of deep pockets they have accumulated by the illicit billions they plundered from the state exchequer. They should not be allowed to get away with their crimes as that would likely administer a death knell to the very concept of justice in the country where a majority of people are already convinced that, while the rich can influence their cases, there is no relief for the poor who toil for generations to even be heard.

The history of Maryam’s appeal is proof enough of how they use delaying tactics leading to settlement of cases by employing extrajudicial methods. This existent appeal was not pressed for three years according to a preconceived plan which has now started unfurling. It should neither be delayed any further, nor the convict given a chance to use her fraudulent ways to get away.

Crime runs deep in this family. Ever since they were hoisted in power by their benefactors, they have misused their public offices for all shades of grave misdemeanours for which they have never been held accountable. This is because they strangled the system hostage within the tentacles of their loot which they indulged in abundantly through their years in power.

Everything and every service had a price for them. They thought they could buy whatever they wanted to – and they did so throughout the long years they were in control. When in opposition, they were able to strike a deal with the leaders of that other corrupt party of the country, PPP, to stay out of harm’s way. It is only now that they are confronted with a person who is trying to turn it around. Prime Minister Khan has taken a position for Pakistan and refuses to compromise. He believes that all those people, particularly those who have been in power, must be held accountable for their corruption and misdeeds without exception.

Like I said earlier, this is a test case for the judiciary which has had its own embarrassing moments in the past history of the country. It has to bury that baggage and initiate the advent of genuine justice, administered without any strings or reservations. The poor and marginalised communities of the country have suffered immensely. It is time the congenital criminals, who never tire of using their manoeuvring abilities to buy justice, were held accountable for multifaceted crimes they have indulged in, stripping the country of its wealth and promise being a principle one.

It is a simple case. Members of this fraudulent family only have to answer for the source/s of their wealth. They should do this in a simple manner so that everyone can understand. And there should be no further delay in administering justice either. This unjust practice should come to an end.

The writer is the special assistant to the PM on information, a political and security strategist, and the founder of the Regional Peace Institute.

Twitter: @RaoofHasan