The Express TribuneThe National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has passed on information to election authorities about three graft references against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s leadership, an official said. The references are pending in the Accountability Court, Rawalpindi. The move drew an angry response from the party, whose spokesman counselled the corruption watchdog not to do “politics”. The party intends to give a detailed response at a press conference on Friday. NAB’s reply to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is part of the scrutiny process of candidates and it has not spared PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and ex-provincial chief minister Shahbaz Sharif. The two brothers were found accused of loan default in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills scandal by the NAB during the scrutiny of their nomination papers, sources told The Express Tribune. The record was sent to the returning officers (ROs) through the ECP. The NAB found that the Sharif brothers were accused in the case of loan default of Rs3,486 million rupees in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case. NAB records show that the Sharif brothers had filed a petition for quashing the First Information Report (FIR) against them in the Lahore High Court (LHC) and the case was still pending. “In that respect, they [Sharifs] were still accused in the default case,” said an official. The case was filed in March 2000 with the Attock NAB Court where the Sharif brothers were accused of misusing their authority and accumulating wealth beyond their means. The other accused included their third brother Abbas Sharif, Nawaz Sharif’s son Hussain Nawaz and his daughter Maryam Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz, and Senator Ishaq Dar. “The competent authority to decide the candidature of the Sharif brothers were the respective returning officers and not the NAB,” said a NAB spokesperson while reacting to television reports that the NAB had objected to the candidacy of the two PML-N leaders. The NAB spokesperson said that the bureau has neither raised objections on any candidate during the scrutiny of the nomination papers nor has it returned the name of any candidate with objection to election commission. NAB has received more than 18,000 nomination forms and it has only provided the information that was to be provided to the special cell of the poll body. But the PML-N directed its wrath at the anti-corruption authority. A party spokesman said NAB’s objections against Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif were based on mala fide intentions. “NAB should not do politics but rather it should refrain from becoming a party in this regard”. The NAB’s report against the Sharif brothers is part of a well-calculated conspiracy. He said the PML-N will disclose facts at a news press conference on Friday (today). In a separate statement, PML-N’s spokesperson Senator Pervez Rasheed said there is no discrepancy in the assets declared on the nomination papers of the PML-N president.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Mehr TararThe most popular leader emblazoned his name for posterity as the one man who brought into existence a party that was for the common man. The headline was stark. The words seemed almost banal, camouflaging the enormity of what had transpired. As my mother put the paper down silently, her eyes giving away nothing, I looked at her, dreading something awful had happened. As I inched my way to Pakistan Times, as if it was the last page of a horror story, the words seemed unusually enhanced: “Z A Bhutto hanged, buried in Naudero.” My elementary-school mind went into a spin as it tried to make sense of what the text connoted. This was the man I used to see on TV speaking passionately, wearing his trademark outfit, styled with an unusual cap. This was the man who had the party that rooted for the poor, and the poor, in turn, voted it into power. This was the man who when he spoke, mesmerised, transforming into that magical character from my storybooks, the Pied Piper of Hamlin, and people followed, starry-eyed, agog with anticipation of a better tomorrow, their pale visages hued into large smiles about a dry-cleaned future, devoid of the grime of their yesterdays. This was the man who spoke with a passion, a realness, an empathy linked directly to their hearts, hearts as tired as the clichés of other politicians, and an emotion that rang loud, sparkling, throwing the age-old game of politics on its sorry head, hurrahing into a new horizon. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was their own, a leader they loved, idolised, and remembered even when he disappeared from their sleepy villages, dusty old towns, noisy cities, badly-printed newspapers, and grainy TV screens. On April 4, 1979, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was executed. In Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi, the former civilian prime minister had been executed by a general-turned-into-a-military-dictator, Ziaul Haq, on an insufficiently-proved murder charge. Bhutto was not just another politician who ruled, enjoyed power, exercised power, and then faded into oblivion. To encapsulate the multi-tiered complexities of a personality that had the good and the not-so-good deeply intertwined, in a limited space, is like saying one comprehends the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle. The man said to be impulsive, peculiar, controlled by quirks, eccentric pronouncements, started his political life as a minister in President Iskander Mirza’s cabinet. Born on January 3, 1928 to Khursheed Begum and Shah Nawaz Bhutto, Z A had a sheltered, aristocratic childhood along with his three other siblings, Imdad, Sikandar and Mumtaz, and went on to study at Berkeley University and then Oxford. As Pakistan’s youngest foreign minister in 1963, after serving at different ministerial posts in the general-turned-president Ayub Khan’s cabinet (yes, ironically Bhutto’s principal political guru was the predecessor of the one who killed him), the Lincoln’s Inn’s-trained barrister championed Operation Gibraltar in Indian-occupied Kashmir. The result was the war with India in 1965. This kick-started a rollercoaster of events that were gigantic in their political consequences, laying the foundations of what Pakistan would come to denote. Bhutto ended his liaison dangereuse with Ayub, and fired from the government, he formed what would become the biggest political party of Pakistan — the PPP — notwithstanding its performance in future governmental tenures. The socialist welfare manifesto spoke of the dreams the poor never dared let approach their wrinkled eyes, and the promise was of a Pakistan where roti, kapra and makaan (bread, clothing and shelter), the 101 of human existence hitherto unavailable to everyone, would become a reality. Bhutto, the aristocrat who cast aside his Saville Row suits and custom-made shoes; the dazzling orator, who conversed in English, transformed into an ‘awami’-attired messiah, as his speeches in Urdu became a sermon for a ‘New Pakistan’. In Election 1970, Mujibur Rehman of the Awami League emerged as the winner, and the generals, along with their president General Yahya Khan — the man Bhutto called ‘Jack the Ripper — were enraged, and Bhutto played along. The tragedy of East Pakistan — secession/massacres/lootings/rapes/imprisonment — the heinousness of which formed many a volume for historians/analysts is/was the worst mark on Pakistan’s face. This was the country that on August 14, 1947 had a bloodstained carving out of India to hallelujah a nation that put the rights of Muslims at the top. Pakistan split into two and the generals and their countrymen blamed it on the Bengalis and Indians. Bhutto’s own words on East Pakistan’s secession spoke of a profound anguish despite the impression to the contrary: “On March 25, 1971 and as God is my witness, I wept. I wept and said, ‘My country is finished’” (Interview to Oriana Fallaci). Bhutto became the new president of a sheepish yet defiant Pakistan. Bhutto’s almost five-year reign swerved, somersaulted, and contorted into an array of constitutional and administrative contradictions. Out of the seven amendments to the constitution, the second one was not just in contradiction with Bhutto’s apparently secular demeanour, it was almost barbaric with the not-yet-envisaged horrors it was later to unleash on an entire sect: Ahmadis were declared as non-Muslims. Then came the first ministry of religious affairs in 1972. The man who had married for love, loved to entertain, enjoyed music and ballroom dancing, in his abrupt move to appease the clergy banned drinking, gambling and nightclubs in May 1977 in the middle of the PNA’s Nizam-e-Mustafa movement against his government. Nevertheless, the clergy still treated him like a pariah. The pronouncements of Bhutto’s proud nationalism and ‘India is our staunch enemy’ were a tad loud. The Simla Accord in the wake of Bhutto’s irreverent comments about Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi (“...a diligent drudge of a schoolgirl, a woman devoid of initiative and imagination...”) was as insincere in its implementation as the ‘cordiality’ between the two leaders. The next proud step to perpetuate the narrative of what-you-do-we-do-too in response to Indian nuclear testing was Bhutto’s atomic bomb programme. For him, ‘godless’ China and ‘holy’ Saudi Arabia were the new pals, Bangladesh the new neighbour, and in the spirit of highlighting the non-existent Muslim ummah, the second OIC took place in Lahore in 1974. Bhutto, the man who used to stare teary-eyed at the arid fields, the mud huts where the farmworkers endured a prehistoric existence, introduced land reforms. Bhutto nationalised major industries and banks. And Bhutto did it all as reform for the alleviation of poverty as he promised. The intent was sincere, the initiatives detested by the moneyed elite, the basic system remained unaltered, resentments increased, and the murmurs to remove him took the resonance of a repeated mantra. Now the foe was tri-headed: the military, the clergy and the affluent. The game of political-military chess brought the middle-hair-parted, mustachioed, radical COAS, promoted/endorsed ironically by Bhutto, General Ziaul Haq, encouraged by the rising resentment of the masses, enabled by religious parties rallied under the PNA, whom again, in vain Bhutto had done his best to befriend, and failed. The 1977 election declared Bhutto’s PPP a winner, and the opposition did not take it smiling. The coup d’état was a midnight attack on the constitution on July 5, 1977. And Bhutto lost power. Bhutto was detained for a month, Pakistan was promised a new election in 90 days. He was charged with the murder of Muhammad Ahmad Khan Kasuri, killed in March 1974, whose son Ahmed Raza Kasuri, who claimed that he was the actual target, later claimed to have been the target of 15 assassination attempts. The ‘kangaroo court’ and the ‘mock trial’ as termed by the former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who attended the trial, declared Bhutto guilty on March 18, 1978. On March 24, 1979, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, Zia upheld the death sentence, and Bhutto was hanged on April 4, 1979. The grieving widow was the Iranian-born Begum Nusrat Bhutto, the pain-stricken children were Benazir, Murtaza, Sanam and Shah Nawaz. The family had had a minuscule interaction with Bhutto during the incarceration. The meetings were limited, restricted and monitored. They protested outside and people sympathised, and that is all they did for their beloved leader. The family did not get to meet him, and were not notified of his hanging. All they got was a thin, shadow of the man who was imprisoned two years ago, shoved into a nondescript coffin, handed over by men with their visages sweaty and eyes lowered. The most popular leader who changed the rules of politics, who had his intense gaze on the hearts of people, who was one leader whom the masses truly loved, who enunciated a brighter tomorrow, who did not break down despite his long, torturous ordeal, emblazoned his name for posterity as the one man who brought into existence a party that was for the common man. The man of multiple contradictions, who sported his ‘talisman’-cap given by Chou En-lai, read biographies of Mussolini, Hitler, Napoleon, De Gaulle, Stalin and Churchill, studied Rousseau and Marx, counted Seokarno and Nasser as two of his true friends, had this to say about himself to Oriana Fallaci in 1974: “...I’m a fascist? I’m not. A fascist is...an enemy of culture, and I’m an intellectual enamored of culture. A fascist is a man of the right, and I’m a man of the left. A fascist is a petit bourgeois, and I come from the aristocracy. When you’re born rich and become a socialist, no one believes you. Neither friends in your own circle, who in fact make fun of you, nor the poor, who aren’t enlightened enough to believe in your sincerity. The hardest thing for me hasn’t been to escape the bullets and the poison, it’s been to get myself taken seriously by those who didn’t believe me... My mother was different. She came from a poor family and was haunted by other people’s poverty. She did nothing but repeat to me: ‘We must take care of the poor, we must help the poor, the poor shall the poor shall inherit the earth...’” Rest in peace, Mr Bhutto.