Reason why judges are not being restored
Myth 1 being circulated:
Multiple Murder Cases: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7339435.stm
Anyone who had followed Zardari‘s cases knows the real reason why he could not be tried properly was because he always claimed to be unwell or some other excuse used by his lawyer to delay the hearings AND NOT BECAUSE HE WAS INNOCENT. I am sending 3 news reports from different years:
May 11, 1999: http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/99may11/inter.htm#2
Month long adjournment
Aug 25, 2001: http://www.lib.virginia.edu/area-studies/SouthAsia/SAserials/Dawn/2001/aug2501.html#asif
(If you know the background of this case you will know Hakim Sahib did not have any involvement in the Steel Mills Case).
Two Month long adjournment
Nov 27, 2004: http://www.dawn.com/2004/11/27/nat12.htm
Adjournment until next date.
It is amazing how he was never sick once he did not have to go to court. Shaid khana theek nai tha jail ka?
To sum it all, Zardari is not to be trusted, as this article quite rightly puts it:
News reports on Zardari’s money laundering which prove Zardari prefers money over principles. It would not surprise us if Zardari is being paid a heavy amount by the establishment to not restore the judges.
Bhutto Appeals Swiss Conviction on Money-Laundering Charge
Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan, has filed an appeal of her conviction on money-laundering charges by a Swiss Court last week, her political party said today.
Ms. Bhutto and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, who is jailed in Pakistan, were given six-month suspended sentences after an investigation by a Swiss magistrate. She was ordered to pay the Pakistani government nearly $12 million in restitution and was also ordered also ordered to hand over a necklace valued at $188,000.
”Bhutto went unrepresented before the investigating magistrate and was without opportunity to challenge documents provided by her political opponents in Islamabad,” a statement from her Pakistan People’s Party said.
The case relates to accusations dating back to the 1990’s that Ms. Bhutto had access to money through kickbacks from two Swiss companies doing business in Pakistan.
Ms. Bhutto now lives in London and Dubai, and her lawyers attended the case on her behalf.
The Pakistani government, headed by Ms. Bhutto’s archrival, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has sent officials from the National Accountability Bureau to Switzerland over the past few years to look into allegations of money laundering and corruption.
Ms. Bhutto also faces charges related to corruption in Pakistan and has been told she would be arrested if she returned.
Mr. Zardari has languished in prison since Ms. Bhutto’s government was thrown out of power in November 1996.
The Pakistan People’s Party said Ms. Bhutto denied all charges against her. ”The disputed Geneva accounts did not belong to her, the expensive jewelry piece meant to link her to the account was not hers and she did not influence the award of the contract to a Swiss pre-shipment firm,” it said.
The party said documents provided to the Swiss authorities were the same as those used in a Pakistani court whose 1999 judgment was set aside by the supreme court.
”It has yet to be seen whether Bhutto can be tried again on the same charge as it violates the principle of double jeopardy,” the Pakistan People’s Party added.
The Swiss verdict has dealt a blow to Ms. Bhutto, whose political success has been tarnished by allegations of corruption during her two terms in office in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
Her party fared poorly in October 2002 elections. But she still commands popular support in some regions, especially in the southern province of Sindh.
In London, Farooq Naek, her lawyer, described the former leader as ”shocked and upset” at the Swiss verdict.
”This case is simply politically to malign her, and she is very upset,” he said.
|11 February 2001||Sunday||16 Ziqa’ad 1421|
Is hammam main sab nangay
When Benazir was thrown out in 1996 for the second time, charged with corruption and malpractices, and Nawaz came in for his second bout with the nation one thing he did do was to manage in 1999 to have a high court convict both Benazir and Asif. Asif is in prison whilst Benazir has embarked on a world lecture tour, posing to be as pure as the proverbial driven snow. Both have appealed to the Supreme Court against their conviction and this appeal is to be heard at the end of this month.
Now, at this moment in time, a ‘spook’ emerges. As is the wont of his profession, a deputy director of the Intelligence Bureau writes to the President of Pakistan on January 29 and sends him a bunch of tapes of bugged conversations. The spook writes on IB-Lahore letterhead, so one should presume he wrote from Lahore. The letter and the transcripts of the tapes are leaked to and printed by The Sunday Times, London, on Feb 4. But the spook is in London. How did he get there? Who pays for his keep? Would it be reasonable to suspect that the entire episode has a high fishy smell?
I hold no brief for Spook Rahim or his associates or his felons-in-arms. I write for my old friend, barrister and senior counsel, Khalid Anwer. Our friendship managed to survive the period he spent as law minister in the second Nawaz Sharif government, for when he accepted the position I knew that it would not be too long before he once again landed with his feet back on terra firma. For Khalid’s knowledge, intelligence and ethics, I have nothing but respect. He will not admit to having misjudged Nawaz and made a mistake in joining him, though he surely now realizes what a monumental blunder it was. At that point in time, he had nothing to gain but all to lose. And now, he stands collectively responsible and guilty, together with the other members of Nawaz’s cabinet, for the crimes and wrongdoings perpetrated by the government between the years 1997 to 1999.
But it must be remembered that as a law minister he had every right to speak to the country’s judges and advise them to adhere to the prevailing laws when hearing cases of public importance. To attack him on that score is ridiculous, particularly when the attack is based upon bugged recordings made unlawfully, recordings that so easily could have been doctored to suit the circumstances. If the Ehtesab Act provides that cases be heard on a day-to-day basis and decided within 60 days, and if a judge procrastinates when dealing with a government case, it is the law minister’s duty to advise him to get going.
In this world of information technology the crimes of Benazir and her husband are widely known. For those interested in the topic, I suggest they switch on their computers, get on to the Internet, click on and open www.levin.senate.gov/issues/psireport2.htm
The relationships between the account holders, banks, depositors, kickbackers and cover cocerns is highly complicated and can only be sorted out by a careful reading of the Report. Hereunder a few excerpts:
“The staff invited Ms. Bhutto to provide additional information on the M.S. Capricorn Trading accounts, but she has not yet done so.”
“During the period 1994 to 1997, Citibank opened and maintained three private bank accounts in Switzerland and a consumer account in Dubai for three corporations under Mr. Zardari’s control. There are allegations that some of these accounts were used to disguise $10 million in kickbacks for a gold importing contract to Pakistan …….”
“Citibank told the Subcommittee staff that, once opened, only three deposits were made into the M.S. Capricorn Trading account in Dubai. Two deposits, totaling $10 million were made into the account almost immediately after it was opened. Citibank records show that one $5 million deposit was made on October 5, 1994, and another was made on October 6, 1994. The source of both deposits was A.R.Y. International Exchange, a company owned by Abdul Razzak Yaqub, a Pakistani gold bullion trader living in Dubai …….”
“The Zardari case history raises issues involving due diligence, secrecy and public figure accounts. The Zardari case history begins with the Citibank Dubai branch’s failure to identify the true beneficial owner of the M.S. Capricorn Trading account. As a result, the account officer in Dubai performed due diligence on an individual who had no relationship to the account being opened. In Switzerland, Citibank officials opened three private bank accounts despite evidence of impropriety on the part of Mr. Zardari. In an interview with Subcommittee staff, Citigroup Co- Chair John Reed informed the Subcommittee staff that he had been advised by Citibank officials in preparation for a trip to Pakistan in February 1994, that there were troubling accusations concerning corruption surrounding Mr. Zardari, that he should stay away from him, and that he was not a man with whom the bank wanted to be associated. Yet one year later, the private bank opened three accounts for Mr. Zardari in Switzerland. Mr. Reed told the Subcommittee staff that when he learned of the Zardari accounts he thought the account officer must have been ‘an idiot’.”
If this government does not do whatever needs to be done, however correctly or obliquely, to disqualify and debar every man and woman who held elected office from 1988 to 1999 – all collectively responsible for the present state of the nation – from henceforth holding any elected office ever again, history will hold it responsible for the accelerated disintegration of what is left of this country.
Friday, May 7, 1999
Poland gives Pak papers on $ 2-mn Bhutto bribe
ISLAMABAD, MAY 6: Pakistan said today that Poland had handed over documents proving former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her husband, Asif Zardari, took big bribes in exchange for a 1997 tractor purchase deal.
“The incontrovertible evidence proves that the previous government committed a big fraud on the people of Pakistan,” the official APP news agency said.
It said the documents were given to the Pakistani ambassador in Warsaw and then relayed to the ministry of foreign affairs in Islamabad, which passed them on to the investigating authorities.
The report was published while Bhutto was in Dubai pending an appeal to the Supreme Court against five-year jail terms and an $8.6 million dollar fine handed down to the couple for corruption on April 15. No date for the appeal has been set.
Zardari, a former minister in his wife’s cabinet, is already in jail on other corruption charges but is periodically released to attend sessions of the senate, of which he is a member.
APP said Zardari and Bhutto,twice elected Prime Minister and twice fired for alleged corruption, “skimmed” Rs 103 mn rupees ($ 2.0 mn) from a scheme to make available inexpensive Polish tractors in a bid to boost farming output.
The news agency cited sources at the country’s Ehtesab or accountability bureau, which is leading investigations into what the government calls massive diversion of funds by the couple.
Bhutto says Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government is pursuing her to choke the voice of her opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and end her political career. The government denies the charge.
“The documentary evidence received from Poland confirms the scheme of kickbacks laid out by Asif Zardari and Benazir Bhutto in the name of (the) launching of Awami tractor scheme,” APP said.
It said the scheme was initiated to pocket Rs 103 mn rupees in kickbacks, not to benefit farmers.
APP said the case was pending before an Ehtesab court since last year when it received nearly 800 pages of documents from Geneva afterasking the Swiss authorities to cooperate.
Switzerland also provided documents that helped convict Bhutto and Zardari of receiving huge kickbacks in the award of a government contract to the Swiss firm SGS to stop customs fraud.
The report followed publication in the Pakistani media of official pre-emptive denials of allegations of corruption by Sharif which are expected to be aired in a British Broadcasting Corporation documentary next month.
A series of official statements have said that “evidence” to be aired by the BBC was provided by Bhutto associates and discredited. The official media have denied charges of tax evasion and loan fraud by the prime minister.
Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.
A Swiss investigating judge rejects an appeal seeking review of the June 2 indictment orders passed against three Swiss nationals involved in money laundering allegedly on behalf of Ms Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Ali Zardari. Admitting that Pakistan was a “damaged party”, Judge Danial Devaud ruled that the offences these people were charged with could have inherently caused considerable financial loss to the state of Pakistan. The government of Pakistan had made a request to the Swiss government that Ms Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Zardari had received huge amounts in kickbacks and commissions in several cases including ARY Gold, submarines deals, Cotecna, SGS, Awami Tractor scheme, rice exports and textile quota management.
Bhutto sentenced by Swiss magistrate
The former Pakistani prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, and her husband have been convicted of money laundering by a Geneva investigating magistrate.
Bhutto’s lawyer says the couple intend to appeal Daniel Devaud’s decision to hand down a six-month suspended jail sentence.
Devaud’s sentence was related to accusations that the couple received multi-million dollar kickbacks in exchange for handing out a contract to a Swiss firm, during Bhutto’s second term in office from 1993-1996.
The case, opened in 1998, involved the Geneva-based Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS), the world’s biggest verification, testing and certification services group.
The money was allegedly deposited in Swiss banks, and accounts belonging to the Bhuttos were frozen following an official Pakistani request in 1997. The Geneva authorities launched their own investigation into money laundering a year later.
Devaud later said there was around $10 million (SFr13.5 million) involved, equivalent to six per cent of the SGS contract.
If Devaud’s verdict were to be upheld on appeal, the money would likely be transferred to Pakistan. Bern and Islamabad already have a legal assistance agreement under which they exchange information relating to the case.
Devaud’s ruling came after five years of investigations and shortly before he stepped down from his post as a magistrate in Geneva.
Bhutto’s Swiss lawyer, Dominique Poncet, described Devaud’s decision to sentence the couple as “rubbish”.
“He can only [hand down a sentence] if the facts are proven, which is not at all the case,” he told swissinfo.
But according to Jacques Python, a Swiss lawyer working for the Pakistani government, a Geneva investigating judge has discretionary powers allowing him to hand down sentences of up to six months.
“By issuing the sentences, Daniel Devaud remained within his rights as permitted under the Geneva code of civil procedure,” he told swissinfo.
Python said the decision was not surprising, since the Bhuttos had never agreed to answer any questions from the Geneva authorities, and had never formally denied the charges being investigated by the magistrate.
“The documented evidence proves beyond reasonable doubt that the money paid as a commission by SGS and a subsidiary was received by Mrs Bhutto and her family,” he said.
Bhutto’s lawyer, Poncet, said his clients would appeal the decision and let the canton Geneva prosecutor decide if the case should go to court.
The lawyer added that Bhutto was prepared to face a court and defend herself against the charge, which she had not been able to do until now.
The former prime minister has been living in exile in London and the Middle East, and refuses to return to Pakistan for fear of arrest. Her husband has been languishing in a Pakistani prison since 1996.
swissinfo, Scott Capper and Ramsey Zarifeh
Identification of Benazir’s property ——————————————————————- ISLAMABAD, April 22: The authorities in the four provinces have been directed to identify the property, allegedly purchased by Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari, using the money which they had received from SGS as bribe, APP learnt here Thursday from reliable sources. The direction has been issued in compliance with the order of the Lahore High Court (Pindi Ehtesab Bench). Under the court’s order, Ms Bhutto and Mr Zardari have to pay a fine of $8.6 million (equivalent to Rs396 million), and in case of non-payment, the fine will be recovered by disposing of the property of the couple equivalent to the fine money. The property purchased from ill-gotten money in SGS case will also be confiscated according to the decision of the Ehtesab bench. Last year the Lahore and Rawalpindi Ehtesab benches of the Lahore High Court had passed freezing orders of the property and assets of Ms Bhutto, Mr Zardari as well as their front men. The assets and property of some persons facing corruption charges were also blocked through courts by investigation agencies and the anti-narcotics force. The sources said the Ehtesab bureau had “unearthed” “ill-gotten assets and property” of Ms Bhutto, Mr Zardari “and his cronies” worth Rs22 billion in Pakistan. The bureau stated that Ms Bhutto declared her own assets as on June 30, 1997 to be worth Rs16.8 million. But investigations showed that she possessed assets in Pakistan worth Rs235.371 million. Likewise, Mr Zardari declared his assets on June 30, 1997 to be worth Rs17.5 million. But investigations found the same to be worth Rs5012.947 million in Pakistan.-APP DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS __________________________________________________________________________
|Benazir: In the eye of the storm|
SEP 2: General Musharraf’s government is considering filing a treason case against Ms Bhutto for disclosing state secrets, which she had pledged not to divulge when she took oath as the country’s prime minister.
According to another news report, Benazir, after her conviction, sought reconciliation with President General Pervez Musharraf and offered him a safe exit and a safe return for herself, but he rejected.
Musharraf’s government, which has chosen to be pro-active against the opposition parties opposing the Legal Framework Order (LFO), will point out a violation of the oath taken by Benazir Bhutto as the country’s prime minister under clauses 2 and 3 of Article 91 of the Constitution.
The oath of the prime minister says: “I’ll not disclose to anyone any matter or subject that is brought into my knowledge as the prime minister.”
No head of state or top government of Pakistan official has ever been convicted for violating the Official Secrets Act.
But this may very well be the first case of its kind, say analysts knowledgeable of Pakistan politics and military’s influence on all national and security matters.
According to details, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto revealed elements of an important military operation in a newspaper interview with an Indian journalist in London, a few days after a Swiss magistrate judgment last month, senior officials have said. “Musharraf wanted to grab Srinagar,” Shayam Bhatia quoted Ms Bhutto in August 21 issue of India Abroad, a weekly news magazine.
Ms Bhutto disclosed to Bhatia: “He was my Director General Military Operations and he presented me with his plan in front of 50 officers about how the mujahideen would infiltrate an area similar to Kargil, how they would bring about a war and how the Indians wouldn’t be able to dislocate us and they would be forced to start a second front at which point the international community would intervene and we would take Srinagar.” The interview or its contents have not been disputed by the PPP despite its publication on August 21.
Without commenting upon the exact contents of the briefing, several official sources have now said that Ms Bhutto’s interview with the Indian journalist contained elements of the “Top Secret” briefing arranged for her by the then COAS Gen Abdul Wahid Kakar at the Joint Staff headquarters in mid-1995.
In the briefing attended by the top hierarchy of the military services, informed officials said, the then Director General Military Operations Major General Pervez Musharraf briefed the audience about the contingency plans and operations prepared by the military operations directorate, the backbone of military planning at the General Headquarters (GHQ).
Officials confirmed a vigorous interaction that took place between Ms Bhutto and Major General Musharraf, but they said that even then it was impressed upon her that the Army was not contemplating any action and the idea for that most confidential briefing was only to apprise her of the preparedness of the country’s military planners.
“It was irresponsible on the part of the former prime minister to speak about an India related military operation and that too with an Indian reporter,” said a senior Pakistani official.
A senior PPP leader in Islamabad, requesting anonymity, recalled: “Ms Bhutto had granted this interview soon after the Swiss magistrate’s judgment and she thought that the military junta had bribed the Swiss magistrate to defame her internationally.”
Whatever may be the background of Ms Bhutto’s interview with “India Abroad”, her utterances might aggravate her problems with the Army more than anything else in recent past.
Ms Bhutto’s decision to speak about the military operations presented to her by the Army has apparently further angered the establishment, which had not yet recovered from her series of media interviews since September 11 terrorist attacks against the United States in which the former prime minister had accused ISI of having direct connection with Osama bin Laden.
Several times also in the past two years, she branded top generals such as General Musharraf, former DG ISI Lt-Gen Mahmoud Ahmad and Chairman joint chiefs of staff Gen Aziz Khan as fundamentalist pro-al Qaeda generals.
The reason for her continued tirade against the Army is her belief that the establishment never allowed her government to function normally and she is being defamed internationally because she represents a solid challenge to the establishment’s grip over power in Pakistan.
Paradoxically, she never had serious complaints against the Army chiefs that had served the PPP government.
Ms Bhutto had such an admiration for former COAS Gen Aslam Beg that she decorated him with an unprecedented Medal of Democracy.
Her opinion about Gen Beg has now changed completely as she accuses him now of accepting $10 million from Osama bin Laden to overthrow her government through a no-confidence vote in parliament in 1990.
Repeatedly in the past few weeks, the PPP chairperson, whose grip on the party still seems formidable, has alleged that the General Pervez Musharraf-led establishment influenced Switzerland’s judicial system to win an initial magisterial inquiry against her and now this verdict is being used to rid her of a positive international image.
Meanwhile, informed officials said authorities are exploring if Ms Bhutto’s interview with Shayam Bhatia of India Abroad is tantamount to the breach of her oath as prime minister.
Given the army’s history of long standing bias against the Bhuttos, Benazir’s most recent tell-telling on official secret matters, specially military-cum-security related has the potential of becoming the final nail on her political casket.
If news reports and General Musharraf’s statements are any indicators of how badly the military establishment want Benazir exited from the Pak political scene, then the most recent issue may play well in the hands of the anti-Bhutto clique in the establishment.
But most of her misfortunes have been of her own making, say some analysts.
However, being a moderate voice and a formidable force in a country which is beset with sectarianism and extremism, her being in the eye of the storm does not abode well for those who want to see Pakistan come out of the post 9/11 tufaan.
Whether Musharraf and his political-cum-security pundits will look at Benazir’s most recent goofup as only a lousy cheap shot will largely depend on how much they care for the international community, particularly United States’ concern about westernized democracy in Pakistan.
US has already begun efforts to bring about rapprochement between the General and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Richard G Lugar, chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has begun efforts to open up new channels of communications between Musharraf and Bhutto, says media reports.
The US is interested to see Bhutto’s return to Pakistan as it does not want to see the marginalisation of liberal and progressive elements in Pakistan politics.
990422 _______________________________________________________________ And this guy predicted in 1999……Benazir is preferable to Generals! Release Date: October 7, 1999 Eric Margolis, c/o Editorial Department, The Toronto Sun 333 King St. East, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5A 3X5 Fax: (416) 960-4803 — Press Contact: Eric Margolis
Benazir Bhutto: Damsel In Distress
by Eric Margolis
WASHINGTON — Breathlessly racing down 15th Street to make a meeting for which she was an hour overdue, wearing a long, baggy taupe sweater over which her thick, dark hair fell in dramatic cascades, arms filled with bags and notebooks, Benazir Bhutto, twice prime minister of Pakistan, and sometime target of this column’s criticism, looked more like a university coed late for class than one of the world’s most famous and controversial women who is now on trial for her political and personal life.
I recalled with a smile how Pakistan’s tough generals invariably referred to Benazir Bhutto as ‘that girl.’ But by the time we finally sat down with the American Bar Association, she was again very much madam prime minister. Benazir crisply ran through a list of examples of how she and her family were victims of a ‘campaign of judicial abuse’ by the current Pakistani government, led by her bitter political rival, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and other allies of the late President Zia ul-Haq, under whose regime her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was hanged. She scolded me for associating with the old-guard generals who opposed her, whom she calls ‘thugs.’
Both Benazir and her husband, Asif Ali Zadari, who has been in prison since she was ousted from office in 1996 for corruption, have been sentenced to five years in prison. Benazir is currently living in exile with her children in a two-room flat in London , pending the outcome of her High Court appeal next month.
However, Benazir claims the Bhuttos cannot get a fair trial in Pakistan, which is probably true. Pakistan’s corrupt legal system is an extension of tribal warfare: judges and witness, like its venal politicians, are bought and sold like so many bags of basmati rice. If convicted, Bhutto will lose her right to run for office and even her extensive personal property.
Later, during lengthy private talks, Benazir told me that witnesses in the many criminal charges leveled against the Bhutto clan – which includes her husband, mother, and father-in-law – had been bribed, threatened, or tortured. On 20 Sept, Asif Zadari, who is also charged with arranging the murder of Benazir’s estranged brother, Murtaza, in 1996, was indicted for trafficking in heroin by a special Pakistani court, and faces the death penalty. ‘The witness against my husband in the drug case was forced to sign a confession under threat of death,’ says Benazir.
Many cyncial Pakistanis discounted accusations against the Bhuttos as a frame-up. But all this changed when incorruptible Swiss federal prosecutors announced the Bhuttos and their Pakistan People’s Party had hidden at least 20 million Swiss francs (C$20 million) made from money laundering, illegal payoffs, and, possibly, drug dealing in numbered accounts in Geneva. A Swiss firm hired by the Bhutto government to monitor customs duties was accused of having paid a percentage of their collections to the Bhutto’s secret Swiss accounts. Swiss prosecutors froze the Bhutto accounts and sent their indictment to Pakistani federal prosecutors for criminal action.
‘Few people believed the Pakistani government charges,’ Benazir said, ‘until the Swiss investigation. But that changed everything.’ Indeed. Not only did the Swiss charges widely discredit the Bhutto clan in Pakistan, the accusations of massive bribery and drug dealing caused Benazir’s many ardent supporters in Washington and the western media, whom she was seeking to enlist to her cause, to give her the cold shoulder. Why would the normally discreet, cautious Swiss bring such inflammatory charges unless they had overwhelming proof of guilt?
‘I don’t know,’ insists Benazir. ‘I’ve never had a bank account in Switzerland since 1984. Why would the Swiss do this to me? Maybe the Swiss are trying to divert attention from the Holocaust gold scandal.’
I don’t know either. Benazir Bhutto is beautiful, fascinating, a damsel in deep, deep distress, though through it one also sees occasional flashes of the imperious nature that marked the Bhuttos, Pakistan’s foremost great feudal landowners. Up close to Benazir, it’s very hard for me to believe this urbane, US and British educated, very First World lady, who speaks passionately of improving women’s conditions, modernizing her nation, and bringing it the benefits of western-style democracy, could have b een stashing sordid payoffs in Swiss banks and using the proceeds to buy expensive jewelry and houses, as critics assert.
But, sadly, there seems ample evidence of massive corruption against her husband and his father, Ali Zardari, well known to all Pakistanis as ‘Mr. 10%.’ The Zadaris appear to have treated Pakistan, one of the world’s poorer nations, like their personal p ossession and its treasury as their private purse. Other Pakistani politicians are also corrupt. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family, for example, have been frequently accused of financial misdeeds. But the Zardaris went over the top with their e xcesses, and treated with disdainful arrogance those who criticized their reckless behavior – for which they are now paying the price.
Benazir, who is deeply in love with Asif Zadari, seems not to have seen any of this. As Balzac wryly noted, ‘when women love us, they forgive us everything…’ but added, ‘women, when they are not in love, have all the cold blood of an experienced attorne y.’ I believe Benazir shut her eyes to the rapaciousness of her family. One sympathizes with her as a wife whose judgement may have been clouded by emotion and loyalty. But in her role as prime minister, and the first woman to head an Islamic nation, s he should have been more the cold-blooded attorney and less the adoring wife.
‘Be optimistic,’ I advised, ‘You’ll soon be back as prime minister.’ Court rulings get overturned in Pakistan – or simply ignored. All the charges against Benazir and her family could vanish like snow on the Baluchi desert. In Pakistan, the great wheel of life is always turning. After all, Benazir spent 6 years in jail or detention after her father was overthrown, and was kicked out of office twice. She is a Pakistani phoenix.
Pakistanis usually give their leaders two years to change things before erupting in fury, as they are now doing in mass protests against Nawaz Sharif’s foundering, aimless government. Pakistan is in a huge mess. But aside from the perennial Benazir and N awaz, no other national leaders have sprung from Pakistan’s arid political soil. The middle class, as Benazir observes, as no influence at all. Pakistan’s Islamic parties have little more. The only national institution that works, and commands respect, is the military.
Nawaz’s fall would leave either the army or Benazir. The generals don’t want to rule openly. The US prefers Benazir to the generals, and both, or anybody, for that matter, to Pakistan’s rowdy Islamists. So it’s back to another round of Pakistani musical chairs, with Benazir a favorite to win.
More of the same, however, is not going to save Pakistan from bankruptcy, or from India’s campaign to spend it into ruin through a nuclear arms race, or from endemic domestic chaos. Pakistan needs a bottom to top revolution. Instead, the nation founded to uplift and modernize the Islamic World, seems to be steadily crumbling.
Will ‘that girl’ end up an exile, teaching in the USA, or will she effect a third coming and re-emerge as Pakistan’s once and future leader? Will she re-invent herself and become Pakistan’s reforming Fury? Will she ditch the Zadaris who have brought he r so much misfortune and become a single-mom prime minister? Stay tuned for the next installment of the world’s most gripping and longest-running political drama.
[Eric Margolis is a syndicated foreign affairs columnist and broadcaster based in Toronto, Canada.]Copyright © 1999 Eric Margolis – All Rights Reserved
The luck of the draw
AS is the wont of their profession, the media chiefs of our political parties are forced to prevaricate to support those put on pedestals by their respective parties and elected by public acclaim.
Responding to my column of February 11 (‘Is hammam main sab nangay’), Nazir Dhoki, PPP media chief in Islamabad, (letter February 22) does not respond to my query as to whether there is any “objective non-party person in Pakistan who will deny that both Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, their cohorts and their governments were corrupt to the core and collectively responsible for the robbery and plunder of this country and its people.” Rather, he asks if there is any objective person in Pakistan who will deny that in Benazir’s case justice has been perverted.
May we assure him that the foundations of the judicial system remain as judicious and meticulous as established and organized by his leader whilst she was twice in power.
He goes on to suggest that because of the shenanigans of Benazir and Asif the revenues of the country were increased by the appointment of the Swiss pre-inspection companies. This is a maifestly incorrect statement.
To explain. Say, the government’s revenue was Rs.600 before the inspection companies were brought in. Following the introduction of the scheme it may well have become Rs.700. However, what flowed into the exchequer after the Swiss had collected their fees and paid BenAsif their kickbacks was only Rs.544.
For elucidation, disbelieving PPP stalwarts may refer to Exhibits PW 12/C and 12/D filed in the Lahore High Court in the government’s case against Benazir and Asif in the matter of SGS/Cotecna, the Swiss accounts, and corruption.
Mr Dhoki mentions that Benazir’s lawyer visited “the Swiss Attorney General’s office” where he was informed that none of her Swiss accounts had been frozen.
He and his party members who believe this story may enquire from the office of Examining Magistrate Daniel Devaud in Geneva and make reference to “Procedure Nr.P/11105/1997 against Mister Ali Asif Zardari and others”, the others being Benazir Bhutto, Jens Schlegelmilch, Hans Fischer and Robert Massey. They will therein find confirmation that all the Bhutto/Zardari accounts were frozen and remain frozen.With regard to the US Senate Subcommittee Report (website http://levin.senate.gov/issues/psireport2.htm
) Mr Dhoki writes that it was “conducting ex-parte hearings”. If he reads the Report he will find that it has been stated therein that Benazir Bhutto “told the Subcommittee staff that since ARY International Exchange is a foreign exchange business, the payment did not necessarily come from Mr Razzak, but could have come from a third party who was merely making use of ARY’s exchange services. The staff invited Ms Bhutto to provide additional information on the M.S. Capricorn Trading accounts, but she has not yet done so.” Ex parte ?
Mr Dhoki is of the opinion that justice in Pakistan has been “butchered”. The answer to this is that Benazir should go to Geneva and be tried by the Swiss court which has been waiting for over two years for her to appear before it.
Again, I refer him to Examining Magistrate Devaud’s “Procedure” referred to above. In it he will read that on May 29 and June 2, 1998, Messrs Schlegelmilch, Fischer and Massey were indicted by the Swiss court on the charge of money laundering. They were charged with having hindered the identification of the origin, the discovery and the forfeiture of the commissions agreed to in the contracts between SGS, Cotecna and the Government of Pakistan, contracts which were entered into and signed by Benazir Bhutto and A. R. Siddiqui of the CBR in violation of the official duties with which they were entrusted.
The examination of the Swiss judge also determined that Bomer Finance Inc was a Virgin Islands company which had an account with UBS in Geneva, the admitted beneficial owner of which was Asif Ali Zardari, husband of Benazir “prime minister and minister of finance at the time of signing the inspection contract on 29 September 1994.”
A further finding : An accounting slip held by Mr Schlegelmilch has the notation “50 per cent AAZ, 50 percent BB”. When questioned on this, Mr Schlegelmilch explained that he was given instructions according to which “in case of death the amount should be divided into two halves between his [AAZ’s] famiy and his wife’s family.”
Judge Devaud found this explanation to be “incomplete” in view of the fact “that Mrs Benazir Bhutto has at her free disposal the account to buy jewels. In particular, in August 1997 Mrs Bhutto purchased a set of jewellery partly paid for in Pounds Sterling 117,000 by cash and the balance Pounds Sterling 92,000 by bank transfer from the Bomer account. This set has been seized in Geneva by the undersigned Magistrate.” The set, like the accounts, remains frozen.
This fine set of jewellery, which cost Pakistan Pounds Sterling 209,000, almost Rs.20 million, was reproduced yesterday in its full glory, in technicolour, on the front page of Star and of Nawa-e-Waqt.
The examining magistrate, Judge Devaud, lists the charges considered against Benazir based on the current file: On charge is the use of offshore companies (Bomer and Nassim) to receive commissions “in the frame of entering into a governmental contract with the company SGS/Cotecna being made clear that on the one hand using screen companies to hide the product of crime is considered as an act hindering justice in its search of links between property and crime, and on the other hand that the author of the said crime may be his own launderer according to Swiss law.”
This, according to the laws of Switzerland and in the opinion of the judge is “adequate to charge Mrs Benazir Bhutto with the crime of money laundering.” Were Ms Bhutto to appear before him, she would be asked to acknowledge and confirm “that on request of the examining magistrate of the Republic and Canton of Geneva, you are charged with: money laundering (Section 305bis of the Swiss Criminal Code) for having with Mr Ali Asif Zardari, your husband, Messrs Jens Schlegelmilch, Hans Fischer and Robert Massey, from the spring of 1994 to the autumn of 1997, committed several acts in order to hinder identification of the origin, discovery and forfeiture of commissions agreed of six per cent on the total amount of invoices paid by Pakistan in view to obtain the conclusion of the contract entered into by SGS/Cotecna and Pakistan, it being made clear that the conclusion of the above-mentioned contract has been made possible only by your violation and that of Mr Siddiqui, manager of CBR, of your official duties, and that the commissions agreed have in effect been paid by SGS and Cotecna.” She has, quite naturally, not agreed to appear before Judge Devaud.
Benazir’s and Asif’s appeals against their 1999 conviction for corruption by the Lahore High Court is to be heard tomorrow in the Supreme Court at Islamabad. A special Bench comprising Justices Muhammad Bashir Jehangiri, Sheikh Riaz Ahmad, Munir Shaikh, Nazim Hussain Siddiqui, Iftikhar Mohammad Choudhry, Qazi Mohammad Farooq and Abdul Hameed Dogar has been constituted to hear this important case. The honourable judges may hear the case to its completion or they may adjourn it, or remand it back to the High Court. All depends on whose luck holds.
Benazir and Asif have appointed high-powered heavyweight Abdul Hafeez Pirzada to defend them. The government is to be represented by S. M. Zafar.
Ironically, the poor people of Pakistan will be paying for both the winning as well as the losing lawyer. On the other hand, fortune and luck have so far favoured Benazir. Which other person of her age in this world has managed to land as his/her first job in life the prime ministership of a country of over 130 million poverty-stricken people, a job from which he/she was later sacked on charges of corruption? Which other person has not been punished for his or her crimes? And which other person has managed to once again land the same job only to once again misule and rob? Unfortunate are the people of Pakistan and unlucky they remain.
Volume 24 – Issue 10 :: May. 19-Jun. 01, 2007
INDIA’S NATIONAL MAGAZINE
from the publishers of THE HINDU
|Now out of power, Benazir Bhutto is at pains to reinvent herself as a moderate and a peacenik.|
PUBLICATION of this revised edition of Benazir Bhutto’s memoirs now, two decades after they were first published, is far more timely than she suspected. It is mainly addressed to the West. Sacked as Prime Minister in 1996, it has taken her a decade and more to attribute her misfortunes to Al Qaeda. The sub-text is: “Plant me in office. I will fight the Al Qaeda more efficiently than Pervez Musharraf.”
The only additions are a new Preface and the last chapter. The former drips with megalomania; the latter, with mendacity. “Like England’s Queen Elizabeth, I, who had also endured imprisonment and remained single, thought I would never get married.” She married a man of ill repute, Asif Ali Zardari. Both stand convicted in Swiss courts in cases of corruption and money laundering (vide the writer’s article “Benazir in Swiss courts”; Frontline; April 9, 2004).
The memoirs have not a word about his past; these cases; or, for that matter, her pact with the Army in 1988 under which she was allowed to be Prime Minister. It is only literally true that Rajiv Gandhi and she “signed the first nuclear” confidence-building measure (CBM) in South Asia not to attack each other’s nuclear installations. But it was first concluded orally and publicly announced in December 1985 between Zia ul Haq and Rajiv Gandhi in Delhi. “We subsequently signed the draft of an agreement to withdraw to Kargil without prejudice to our respective view on the (Siachen) Glacier (though neither of us would actually remain in power to actually sign the document).”
False, again. No such draft was initialled, still less signed.
She it was who screamed to the Kashmiris early in 1990 “Azadi, azadi. Goli chalao” (Freedom, Freedom. Shoot). On her return to power, she stipulated impossible terms to India in January 2004 and wrecked accord. She sponsored the Taliban and encouraged the clergy at home. She now claims that even the 1989 no-confidence motion against her was funded by Osama bin Laden. Her brother “Murtaza’s murder was part of the conspiracy to destabilise my government”. Zardari was, however, tried for the murder but was acquitted. The two hated each other.
It is accepted by all now that Pakistan’s Northern Light Infantry had occupied posts in Kargil in 1999. But Benazir repeats the lies of 1999 even 2007: “The Kashmiri Mujahideen seized the posts held by India when it [sic] was unoccupied.”
The piece de resistance is about the Army Chief General Aslam Beg’s briefing in 1990: “He proposed that if the Army suspected it was going to be attacked, the government should allow it to engage in `offensive defence’. This was his expression for a pre-emptive strike. He said that if Islamabad went on an `offensive defence’, it could capture Srinagar, the capital of India-held Kashmir. There then came the offer of the `one hundred thousand battle-hardened Mujahideen’ who were ready to come to our assistance in capturing Srinagar. (Osama bin Laden made the same offer to King Fahd of Saudi Arabia when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. Like me, King Fahd chose not to take up the offer. This resulted in Osama’s open confrontation with the House of Saud.)
“General Beg told me, `Prime Minister, you just give the order and your men will take Srinagar and you will wear the crown of victory and of glory.’ I thought he had lost all sense of reality.”
False, once again. He publicly proclaimed “a policy of offensive defence”. Should there be a war, “the Army would enter India”. This was at the time of the largest military exercise Zarb-e-Momin which began on December 9, 1989. Hardly any noticed its fate. It was called off, as The Muslim (Lahore) reported on December 25. “Blueland” forces made “tactical mistakes”, the General admitted, and could not turn the enemy territory into a battlefield. Whereas “Foxland”, the “enemy”, not only “defended their `vitals’ but were poised to launch an offensive against their rivals. He said that is why the imaginary war between Blueland and Foxland forces was called off.” India was “Foxland”; Blueland was Pakistan. Beg discovered in 1989 that Pakistan could not win a war. Beg’s denial in the Daily Observer (April 12, 2007) rings true. It was Benazir who asked, “Can you capture Srinagar?” He replied, “Yes, if you place the resources at our disposal. She did not answer.” Both knew that she could not. A, predictably, more varnished account that General Pervez Musharraf made a similar proposal to her, in 1996 when he was DGMO, is also false. By then, if anything, India was far stronger. Neither soldier could possibly have recommended war in Kashmir.