The So-Called ‘Accountability’ Has Become A Diabolic Joke
It appears as if more than the PTI, it is the miltablishment which is pursuing these cases of corruption against opposition leaders. And the PTI government seems to be offering rather willingly a civilian façade to the campaign. But in the process the ruling party has lost all its political goodwill, writes Muhammad Ziauddin.
Normally in civilized societies, law enforcement agencies arrest suspected offenders only after having collected enough evidence to get physical remand of the suspects from a court of law to interrogate him/her to tie up loose ends and finalize the case for trial.
Not so in Pakistan. At least not since June 2016 when the Dawn Leaks episode hit the media headlines. We now arrest people, mostly members of opposition even without an iota of evidence, leak to the media some concocted evidence to make it appear that the accused would be convicted without much hassle once produced in the court of law.
All our official investigation agencies seem to have been pressed into digging out corruption cases particularly against leaders of the two mainstream political parties – the PMLN and the PPP. In case no such evidence is found, to concoct them.
Since this campaign against ‘corruption’ in political high places was already in full swing even before the PTI-led coalition government reached Islamabad following the July 2018 elections it appears as if more than the PTI, it is the miltablishment which is pursuing these cases. And the PTI government seems to be offering rather willingly a civilian façade to the campaign.
But in the process the PTI seems to have lost all its political goodwill because the performance of the official investigation agencies and the official prosecutors over the last 15 or so months has been abysmally shoddy.
Even the high profile cases like the three (Avenfield, flagship and Al-Azizia) against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif or the alleged money laundering cases against Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Mrs. Faryal Talpur have yet to be proven in the courts of law beyond all reasonable doubts.
A number of civil servants along with high profile PMLN and PPP leadership as well as some members of big business are cooling their heels in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for months, in some cases for more than a year without being produced in the court of law backed by irrefutable, incriminating evidence.
In fact, what had begun in the beginning as nothing more than media trial of opposition leaders has now begun to be seen as a diabolic joke.
And the latest of these jokes include the following as well: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday (Dec. 24, 2019) granted bail to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Rana Sanaullah in the narcotics possession case. Earlier on Monday (Dec. 23, 2019) the Islamabad High Court granted post-arrest bail to Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Miftah Ismail and ordered his immediate release. Both the PMLN leaders had remained behind bars for almost six months without being allowed access to law.
The Sharif family was used by military dictator General Ziaul Haq to keep the Bhuttos out of power since the ouster and hanging of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. However, the two families when they met while in exile abroad Nawaz and Benazir realizing that they had been had by the militablishhment signed a Charter of Democracy (CoD) agreeing not to let themselves be exploited by the miltablishment in future for a few crumbs of power with the actual power remaining in the hands of the miltablishment.
So, when the mitablishment saw following the 2008 general elections that the PMLN and the PPP are no more willing to play its game, decided to bring in a third party, cultivate and promote it to the level of the PMLN and PPP. So, the PTI.
And the PTI today is doing against the PMLN exactly what PMLN was doing against the PPP in the 1990s. The ruling party has joined the mitablishment in naming and shaming the PMLN as a bunch of corrupt crooks busy robbing the national treasury. But without any concrete evidence to back up the media trial in the court of law.
This has affected the governance aspect rather seriously. The ruling PTI, ‘justifiably’ does not want to sit with the ‘corrupt’ opposition in Parliament which is where the government and the opposition maintaining their respective political positions cooperate with each other to legislate and the ruling party earns space enough to govern the country with equanimity and without being harassed unnecessarily by the opposition.
Since the two seem to be trying to destroy each other politically, the ruling coalition has to keep looking over its shoulders all the time neglecting the governance aspect which has resulted in the economy continuing to be in the intensive care unit (ICU) and both Kashmir and Afghanistan issues not getting the attention the two deserve at this juncture – with the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) completely locked down with complete impunity by the Indian government and Afghan Taliban continuing to create hurdles in the way of permanent peace returning to the war torn country.
The author is a senior journalist and editor.