December 10, 2017

Pakistan: Corruption is Treason

When democracy with a flawed electoral process is deliberately used to camouflage the criminalizing of society, should one give blind adherence to the Constitution while it is being subverted blatantly by the greedy rulers?

Posted on 04/11/16
By Ikram Sehgal | Via ViewsWeek
Pakistani prime minister's secretariat in Islamabad from where Prime Minister runs his embattled government.

Pakistani prime minister’s secretariat in Islamabad from where Prime Minister runs his embattled government.

Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani was so upset at Musharraf leaving the country, he asked Parliament to amend the Constitution and undo Article 6 pertaining to treason “since it had not only failed to protect the Constitution but parliament and democracy as well”.

 

Treason is defined as either “the betrayal of one’s own country by waging war against it or by consciously or purposely acting to aid its enemies” or  as  “the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the State to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign’s family”. Musharraf’s imposing emergency rule and suspending the Constitution (in 2007) was not right but the precedent was set by the Honorable Judges of the Supreme Court (SC) after 1999 giving him carte blanche to do pretty much what he pleased in making amendments to the Constitution (ended up making more than 100).

 

Corruption levels are very high in Russia, to quote a report in 2013 titled “Corruption in Russia: Time to Take Decisive Action” by Kirill Kabanov, the head of Russia’s National Anti-Corruption Committee. “Corruption can be said to be the worst form of treason and anyone who indulges in it or abets it in any way must be held accountable and be given the same punishment that is given for treason”, unquote. Reduction in corruption would make a massive difference in the government’s ability to meet its socio-economic responsibilities towards housing, health, education, etc. Can anyone deny that corruption is a very real and direct threat to Pakistan’s national security?

 

Many good investigation companies in the world have the forensic expertise necessary to find the details of offshore accounts and whether funds passing through them had been taxed at the origin. As a member of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Agenda Council (GAC) for “Anti-Corruption and Transparency” and also the WEF’s “Partnering Against Corruption Initiative” (PACI) for many years, I have repeatedly urged OECD through them to request the UK authorities whether they enquired into, as per their anti-money laundering laws in place, from where the money in the accounts of Pakistani-origin persona was taxed at origin?

 

Author Nicholas Shaxson (“Treasure Island” that examined the role of offshore and tax havens says “London is the epicentric of so much sleaze in the world.” More than a dozen times I have written that the square mile around Hyde Park in London has, along with legitimate businessmen, some of the biggest crooks in the world residing in apartments, where is the fail-safe line separating them except full disclosure?  Leading the charge to try to make Panama’s financial transactions more transparent,  Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development  (OECD) Secretary General Angel Gurria who supports WEF’s PACI said: “The ‘Panama Papers’ revelations have shone the light on Panama’s culture and practice of secrecy. Panama is the last major holdout that continues to allow funds to be hidden offshore from tax and law enforcement authorities.”

 

Why does Raza Rabbani look away from Zardari and his dishonest cronies, this man of conscience tacitly condones violation of the Constitution.  Consider the blatant hypocrisy in a headline stating “PPP concerned about uptil flight of capital from Pakistan.” Wholesale corruption morphes into organised crime which sponsors terrorism, willingly or unwillingly.  Those using their official powers to “cover up” the crimes are guilty of violating the Constitution. Corruption being anti-state is treason, akin to betraying one’s country.

 

In my article of Sept 17, 2015 titled “Rooting out Pervasive Corruption” I wrote, “Only organized crime can deliver huge sums derived from corrupt dealings into major bank centers or real estate in off-shore havens. Corruption surged to new levels after Musharraf’s black National Reconciliation Order (NRO) institutionalized it, this led to our misfortune of having the most corrupt rulers in the history of Pakistan,” unquote. Even worse was the courtroom drama stayed by former CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry making the NRO illegal but conveniently leaving its beneficiaries in place.    With a fair number of our politicians, bureaucrats, supreme court judges, etc involved in corruption in varying degrees, there is practically no political, administrative and/or judicial will to combat corruption.  What do you expect from the holier-than-thou in Parliament with most of them guilty of being corrupt, or of aiding and abetting corruption by shamelessly looking the other way?

 

The “Panama Leaks” set off a furore in Pakistan.  Offshore companies is a means of tax avoidance by exploiting loopholes in the tax laws, while it is essentially legal, it is unethical at best and can be manipulated for illegal dealings.  Offshore accounts of offshore companies can be used for money-laundering and tax evasion but those not owned by off-shore companies are almost invariably meant for hiding of illegal wealth, tax evasion, money laundering, etc.  The best defence being offence, one can be clownish to the absurd represented by Rana Sanaullah (“Pajama Leaks”) and Pervez Rashid, to the unnecessary bad-tempered belligerent and measured, represented by Daniyal Aziz and Musaddiq Malik respectively, in defending the PM’s family.  The focus of enquiry is being cleverly shifted away from offshore accounts. Only a forensic audit can reveal the truth about the offshore accounts that the attention is being deliberately diverted from.

 

Even though “Auntie” Tahmina has used the opportunity to get her own back at the family that has ostracized her (can one expect “My Industrial Lord” soon?), the money trail in will be interesting.  Maryam Nawaz’s signatures are prima-facie that of a shareholder and Director of an offshore company, making the authenticity of her denials of ownership controversial.  The poor girl is a “non-filer” in Pakistan because she has no money and lives with her father the Prime Minister, who also has very little money and lives with his mother. Purely on moral grounds, can Mian Sahib ask anyone to invest in Pakistan when his children don’t seem to?

 

When democracy with a flawed electoral process is deliberately used to camouflage the criminalizing of society, should one give blind adherence to the Constitution while it is being subverted blatantly (in turns) by the greedy rulers? Moral and ethical precedents must symbolize governance, it is an outright hypocrisy to take refuge in verbatim interpretation of the words of the Constitution. Raza Rabbani talks about failing to protect the Constitution (and Parliament and democracy), but as day turns to night and might turns to day our rulers (both in government and opposition) know (and fear) that those who can do will do what is ethically and morally right for the nation and the people, and that will certainly not be treason.

 

 The writer is a leading defense and political analyst of Pakistan. He can be contacted at ikram.sehgal@wpplsms.com


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Pakistan, ViewsWeek Exclusive

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