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Archive for category Nawaz Sharif’s Petrol Hoarding Money Making Scam

Disastrous decade of democracy sorry state of the state-Al Pakistan by Simon Templar

Disastrous decade of democracy sorry state of the state-Al Pakistan

by

Simon Templar

Thug life is a term used by gangsters to glorify their law breaking,heady crime sprees.

Nothing describes the misrule of two successive, so called democratically elected governments in the unstable, underdeveloped 200 million strong south Asian state of Pakistan.

How thieves, plunderers and freebooters came to rule this nuclear armed state is a sad tale in itself.

Ruled by military General Pervez Musharraf who took over in a military coup in 1999, the country became a close US ally after 9/11 and witnessed an era of growth and stability under military rule.

However when Musharaf reached his limits of flexibility, it was decided by the US and British to force him bring back the two tainted, condemned political leaders in exile and to wash away all their sins under a dubious order in the name of national reconciliation.

As in the Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, there was also a hungry, eager, more flexible General waiting in the Wings to replace him, and Deputy Chief Kayani used Military intelligence and a judges restoration movement to cripple the erstwhile strongman, now out of favor with the US.

A final thumbs down from the US Ambassador compelled Musharraf to resign and after the mysterious, unsolved murder of Benazir Bhutto, her thuggish husband, the upstart, criminal uneducated, corrupt and much reviled Asif Zardari came to power.

The deal with the West was that we bring you back, wash away your past sins and you squeeze the Army.

The game began and new Chief Kayani turned a blind eye, as he had brought the devil to sup at the table and was also busy improving his impoverished families financial condition.

So well did this team work that General Kayani got an unprecedented 3 year second term, Zardari became a billionaire, Kayani from rags to millionaire and the country went to the dogs.

The US with its two boys in place, in charge of the Presidency and military, violated Pakistani sovereignty and physical boundaries at will, using drones, choppers, covert assassin’s and whatever they chose.

As per the unholy charter of kleptocracy, Sharif kept silent during Zardari’s plunder and he returned the favor after Sharif took over in 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simple math, over invoice $ 50 billion of Chinese funded projects-whether needed or not- by ten percent, sign sovereign guarantees, leave future generations to pay off horrifying debts and pocket 5% off the top!

Walk away with a cool $ 2.5 billion dollars.Astonishingly simple as it is audacious.

Where Zardari was a street thug, looting millions, for ing neighbors to sell their properties on the cheap, the plunderers from Punjab, whose father made pots and cooking utensils with his bare hands are now certified dollar billionaires thanks to massive bank defaults,and international cuts commissions and kickbacks.

Wow! Wonderful, just one mistake…Sharif, egged on by vicious anti military Advisers like Junior Minister for Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatimi, kept on targeting the by now restive and powerful Pakistan military.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The leakage of information pertaining to thousands of offshore companies incorporated in Panama signalled the end for the strangely absent Sharif regime.

Perhaps the most corrupt and worse administered government in the history of Pakistan..certainly the most hypocritical.

Destroying the civil service structure, promoting nepotism, turning state servants especially in the Punjab into glorified pimps and facilitators.

 

Nawaz Sharif ‘s Well Hidden Taliban Connection-Taliban did Nawaz Sharif’s Dirty Work-While, US looked the Other Way-Rana Sanaulla, Nawaz Sharif’s  Killer Interior Minister Connected to Punjabi Taliban

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One poor martied lady was famously peddled by her husband out to Sharif, then his younger brother and in turn was rewarded with top administrative positions for his immoral shamelessness.

Functioning without statutory, mandated positions such as State Ombudsman, National Tax Collector, Head of the Audit Service and even without the Governor of the State Bank.

Burgeoning debt,increasingly hostile borders, declining exports, a dysfunctional government, falling stock market and collapsing currency could not shake Sharif out of his stupor.

On the ropes, with his family corruption the main story in every paper, every channel and on social media, he chose to plod on shamelessly, trying one corrupt lawyer after another in a futile attempt to cover his tracks.

Described as a sicilian mafiosi by the worthy judges of the top constitutional court, Sharif scraped the bottom of the barrel, hiring the immoral Raja Salman Akram, known to have defended Zardaris drug dealing Prime Minister, all to no avail.

Functioning without a Foreign minister for four years, and appointing idiots as top envoys, the joke is on Sharif as he is now left with no friends to bail him out as before.

His Saudi patrons distanced themselves from their pet poodle after Sharif was unable to prevail upon his military who very sensibly refused to go and fight alongside Saudi troops in Yemen.

Indians and Americans have realised he cannot dominate his military and the Turks and Chinese know him and his tribe as crooked, slimy money grabbers.

Despite holding office for years, Sharif has paid no attention to healthcare, education, rule of law or job creation, focusing purely on shady, unnecessary projects providing easy kickbacks.

Now decades of money laundering, defaulted bank loans and millions in off shore accounts and overseas properties stand to be exposed for what they are, the loot and plunder from 190 million poor uneducated helpless souls who are forced to sell or kill their children due to lack of justice, poverty and a gloomy future.

The question is how will things unfold? Will the shameless, immoral, hypocritical kleptocrats escape yet again to lick their wounds and enjoy their boots abroad or shall they deservedly meet the fate of another erstwhile billionaire, the late unlamented Colonel Qaddafi who died bloodied and screaming in the street as his engeful subjects beat him to death?

The author is a geostrategist based in Brussels.

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NASEEM ASHRAF & IQBAL ASHRAF & MUSADAK MALIK: THE CROOK BROTHERS: New NBP Chief Rewarded for Sanctioning Rs. 500 Million to Sharifs’ Brothers Sugar Mill in 1990s

 

BROTHERS MASTER CROOKS & DESTROYERS OF PAKISTAN VIA CORRUPTION:

NASEEM ASHRAF & IQBAL ASHRAF 

with

Dirty Fingers in the Cookie Jar of Every Government

New-NBP-chief-rewarded-for-sanctioning-Rs500m-to-the-Sharifs'-sugar-mill-in-1990s-salman-shahbaz-sharif-ahmed-iqbal-ashraf

By Sarmad Ali

Islamabad, Jan 28 (Pak Destiny) The Nawaz Sharif government has rewarded Syed Ahmad Iqbal Ashraf by appointing him president of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) for his services – sanctioning Rs500 million loan to the Ramzan Sugar Mill of the Sharifs in 1990s.
“Ahsraf has also been given a task to settle down Rs3billion loan of Itifaq Foundry which it had taken from the NBP in the 1990s,” the sources said.
The sources said Ashraf was the regional director of NBP when he had sanctioned Rs500 million to the Sharif’s Ramzan Sugar Mill when they needed money. Salman Shahbaz had asked his uncle to appoint Ashraf.
A chartered accountant by profession, Ahmad Iqbal is a brother of Dr Nasim Ashraf, the former minister for National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) and president of Pakistan Cricket Board in General Musharraf’s government. Nasim Ashraf brought in Musadak Malik, a big time crook, whose connections with a  super power are highly suspicious. After Nasim Ashraf and Iqbal Ashraf absconded from Pakistan, they left their master-mind Musadak Malik to be an Advisor to Nawaz Sharif. This unemployed US Pharmacist, still a US Citizen has a gift of gab and can through use of this gift he wiggled his way  into Nawaz Sharif’s Cabinet as an his Advisor.
He replaced Dr Asif Brohi who had three years to reach the retirement age.
A total of 51 candidates had applied for the post. The selection was originally to be made by a high-powered commission comprising Federal Tax Ombudsman and two academicians from Agha Khan University and Lahore University of Management Sciences. – Pak Destiny

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Ruin comes when… HUZAIMA BUKHARI AND DR IKRAMUL HAQ

 

 

Ruin comes when…

By
HUZAIMA BUKHARI AND DR IKRAMUL HAQ

 

 

 

Ruin comes when the trader, whose heart is lifted up by wealth, becomes ruler-Plato in Republic Since November 1990, when Muhammad Nawaz Sharif became Prime Minister of Pakistan for the first time, the culture of loot, plunder, corruption, tax evasion and money laundering was legalised through obnoxious laws like Protection of Economic Reforms Act, 1992 and its likes giving a free hand to criminals that no question would be asked by tax officials and functionaries of Federal Investigative Agency (FIA) for acquiring and using dirty money. His three stints as Prime Minister and years as a minister and chief minister in the Punjab can safely be labeled as “rule of a trader” whose heart is infested with the insatiable greed of amassing wealth, expanding family-owned business empire at the expense of the national exchequer and other business houses. This fact was also noted by a judge of High Court in a reported case details of which are summarized below:

In Messrs Pak Ocean and Others v Government of Pakistan through Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Central Secretariat, Islamabad and others 2002 PTD 2850, the petitioners challenged the imposition of regulatory duty on re-meltable iron scrap, excluding bundled and shredded scrap and the reduction in the rate of duty on bundled and shredded scrap as unlawful, arbitrary, unreasonable and ultra vires Articles 4, 18, 24 and 25 of the Constitution. They contended that the said imposition of regulatory duty through Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) was aimed at making their imported scrap very expensive as compared to the imports by big businessmen in the form of bundled and shredded scrap. According to petitioners, the adverse SROs were issued “to solely benefit the owners of the furnaces who are largely imported of shredded scrap”. In the judgment, there is a direct indictment against the House of Sharifs, contained in Para 50 that reads as under:

Khalid Anwar has mainly placed reliance on the judgment in the case of Ittefaq Foundry v. Federation of Pakistan, PLD 1990 Lahore 121. In the cited case it was contended that the petitioner was a producer of billets and that there were other producers, producing ingots, the end-product whereof was same. In order to economically ruin the petitioner in the cited case, duty structure was changed in the year 1989 without reasonable justification and the change in the duty structure was against the rights guaranteed in Articles 4, 18 and 25 of the Constitution. The contention of the petitioner was accepted and the relief was allowed. However, with the change in fortunes, the persons were feeling the pinch of oppression in the case of Ittefaq Foundry v. Federation of Pakistan, became the rulers and thereafter, they very easily and conveniently managed to forge the treatment given to them and got the duty structure changed through notification assailed in these petitions, thereby deriving huge undue benefit at the cost of total destruction of the small importers and traders of the scrap in loose form.

The above paragraph confirms beyond any doubt how traders as rulers have been playing havoc with the national exchequer and minting billions through tax concessions secured vide SROs thus destroying their competitors. Yet in the presence of these undeniable facts and court ruling the State agencies/institutions like FBR, FIA, ECP, NAB etc plead helplessness and claiming “lack of evidence” to proceed against the tax evaders and plunderers of national wealth.

 

 

 

In two articles, ‘Trail of hidden wealth’, Business Recorder, May 6, 2016 and ‘Tough times for PM’, Business Recorder, May 13, 2016, incontrovertible evidence was produced to show abuse of Protection of Economic Reforms Act, 1992 to legalise ill-gotten wealth, blatant violations of tax laws by the family of the Prime Minister and wrong declarations made by him in papers submitted to the Elections Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in 2013 as well as false/misdeclarations in returns submitted to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). Astonishingly, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) still claims that “no evidence” is available to initiate proceedings against the rulers of the day.

 

 

 

The House of Sharifs has a proven track record of destroying competitive business houses but appeasing traders that politically back them and pose no threat to their “empire”. They have been passing laws to protect tax avoiders and were also beneficiaries of the same. Obviously, tax compliance does not suit the huge business empire of Nawaz/Shahbaz and family. It is not surprising that Nawaz Sharif during his third term as Prime Minister has already announced three tax amnesty schemes and now another is in the offing. In 2013, 2015 and 2016, he approved tax amnesties for tax evaders, which failed to mop up untaxed money.

On the very first day of 2016, the Prime Minister took pride in announcing a tax amnesty scheme and publically revealed that he had been asking his Finance Minister to come up with something “worthwhile” that could be “acceptable” to traders who had not been filing tax returns!! Lamentably, as Prime Minister, he openly vowed to protect the accumulation of untaxed (black) money. He never minces words for announcing schemes patronizing tax evaders and encouraging plunder of national wealth. This perhaps supports the allegations of the Opposition that he and his own family are guilty of these crimes as well, so he wants amnesty and immunities for all.

Nawaz Sharif is reportedly keen to launch yet another tax amnesty scheme knowing that his 2013 tax amnesty shockingly fetched a negligible amount of Rs 88 million from about 3000 persons! Much-publicised and negotiated with consensus (sic) Voluntary Tax Amnesty for traders, the deadline for which was extended many times, could not lure them and only 3205 got registered against the agreed target of one million new filers!

Businessmen and other citizens say they pay income tax and sales tax with electricity bills and mobile use. The rulers should not insist for tax returns as they have stacked assets worth billions of dollars abroad. For electioneering, the rulers get generous donations (chanda) from business magnates and after winning pay back through tax amnesties. Together they make billions through rent-seeking, tax evasion, and remit abroad the major portion of such ill-gotten income. Traders who have been investing billions in property in Pakistan and places like Dubai never bother to pay taxes due from them to run the State. PML(N) protects them!

According to FBR’s own study, the contribution of traders in income tax is just 0.5% and in sales tax about 1%. Like powerful absentee landlords, the traders pay meager income tax. However, they successfully keep revenue authorities at bay due to the powerful political influence they wield. The history of income tax law is fraught with provisions that were amended and/or re-amended on account of the traders’ shutter-down threats or violent demonstrations, causing legislators to get cold feet and succumbing to their demands. The governments civil and military alike have been extending amnesty schemes to tax evaders to whiten their undeclared incomes and ill-gotten wealth, for example, Ayub Khan’s Tax Amnesty Scheme of 1958, 1969 Tax Amnesty of Yahya Khan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s Tax Amnesty, Self-Assessment Schemes of the 1970s, Special National Fund Bonds or Simplified Self-Assessment Scheme of the 1980s, Foreign Currency Accounts or Foreign Exchange Bearer Certificates of the 1990s, Amnesty Scheme of 2008 by PPP government, three amnesties schemes of Nawaz-Dar since 2013, various other millennium immunity schemes and the perpetual scheme in the form of the infamous section 111(4) of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001.

Irrespective of what would be the fate of any new tax amnesty scheme, the question that emanates from the prevalent bizarre state of affairs is why traders have been defiant to file tax returns and sales tax statements? There cannot be any one definitive answer because the matter goes down to innumerable factors having roots in certain motivations as well as the draconian image of FBR. The sole responsibility for trust deficit cannot be assigned to FBR. The traders pay millions as Zakat and donations but abhor paying taxes. The general argument is that government spends money callously and for the benefit of elites.

The sanctity to make unrestrained (excessive) profits (munafaa) by traders has the authority of certain clerics. The traders borrow money at exorbitant rates from private parties but avoid banks to hide from the eyes of tax people. The lenders also remain tax-free and borrowers accumulate untaxed money by fleecing masses. There are no effective controls to check unscrupulous traders from charging unreasonable prices.

The clergy in general, with a few exceptions, plead against paying taxes and ask traders to pay Zakat. Resultantly, the greed to amass wealth becomes an obsession violating all social and moral obligations. Thus, adulterating eatables, incorrect measurements, selling defective or sub-standard products, misrepresenting, providing unprofessional services, defrauding customers, refusing to honor guarantees or other duties as abiding by governmental laws regarding trade or payment of taxes, are not considered immoral or violating laws.

All is fair, as long as one is able to stuff one’s pockets with paper money and then have the audacity to squander it in an ostentatious display of wealth and power. Such behavior is visible in the length and breadth of our entire society. Apart from an ignorable number, the majority of traders from a petty fruit/vegetable vendor to the owner of large departmental stores leave no stone unturned to swindle an unassuming customer as well as the concerned government agents with whose connivance they easily manage to evade their national duties.

Non-compliance of tax obligation is a grim reality of Pakistan. The State has failed to fulfill its basic obligations-protection of life and property, health, education, housing and transport etc. In our peculiar milieu, the government needs to educate the masses through the same platform that is used by clergy. The mosques should be under state control, headed by trained teachers who are adequately paid the same model exists in a majority of Muslim countries. Primary education should start from the mosques.

The trader-mullah nexus for non-payment of taxes and huge amounts extracted for madrassahs are issues that need to be debated and handled democratically. These are critical for our existence as a democratic country lest we continuously slide towards mullocracy, extremism, and militancy that have disastrous effects for societies, and are destructive to humanity. Tax defiance and corruption in Pakistan are closely linked with rulers-cum-traders-who are unscrupulous and their greed is unbound. Plato aptly said in the Republic that ruin comes for a country when traders whose hearts are filled with greed become rulers. This is what we are witnessing in today’s Pakistan.

(The writers, lawyers, and partners in Huzaima, Ikram & Ijaz, are Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).)

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Pakistan Corruption Free Or Free For Corruption – Cartoon The Nation

Panama decision will also be a verdict on Corruption in Pakistan

Either Pakistan will be Corruption Free Or Free For Corruption

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WHAT A JOKE — RECORD OF PROPERTY BOUGHT IN 2006 WAS LOST DURING 1999 MARTIAL LAW!

Panamagate: No record for Sharifs’ past business dealings, counsel tells Supreme Court

HASEEB BHATTI 

in DAWN, Pakistan

As the Supreme Court resumed hearing the Panamagate case on Wednesday, Advocate Salman Akram Raja picked up his arguments where he had left them off.

After welcoming Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed — whose sudden illness had forced a suspension in the case’s daily hearings — Raja reminded the court that “this is neither a trial nor the defendant a witness.”

“I will only argue this case based on the evidence present,” Raja, who represents Hassan and Hussain Nawaz, continued.

The record for the Sharif family’s business dealings for the last 40 to 45 years cannot be reproduced, the counsel said, as “it was lost during the 1999 martial law.”

The matter can be sent to relevant departments for inquiry as the Arsalan Iftikhar case determined that trials for cases can be held at corresponding forums, Salman Akram Raja told the court.

“A court has never conducted an independent inquiry in any criminal case,” Raja argued, adding that Article 10 of the Constitution says that every citizen of this country deserves a fair trial and that departments formed under the law should be allowed to do their job.

“There is no charge against the Prime Minister, so there is no charge against his children either,” he continued.

“If we suppose that the PM’s children are his employees, according to the National Accountability Bureau’s laws, then the burden of proof does not fall on the defendants,” Raja argued in court.

“This is not a criminal court, so even if Hassan and Hussain Nawaz are suspected, there is no proof against them,” he added.

There were eight questions that the court posed to the defendants, including the relationship between Mian Mohammad Sharif and the Al Sani family, the shares in Nielsen and Nescoll, and the profits the family gained from them, the counsel recalled.

Lawyer Salman Akbar said that Sharif family has ties with more than one Qatari royal family but he cannot disclose the name of other royal families before the court due to certain reasons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“There were questions about the trust deed as well, and in this hearing, I will answer all these questions,” he told the court.

Justice Khosa advised Raja that he should first finish his arguments before answering the court’s questions.

Moving on to the matter of the London flats, Hussain Nawaz’s counsel argued that the flats were bought by the Al Thani family between 1993 and 1996.

“The Sharif family did not own the flats in 1999, as Hussain Nawaz was given the bearer certificate to the flats by the Al Thani family,” Raja argued. He added that the shares for the flats were given to Minerva Financial Services in 2006.

Upon hearing this argument, Justice Azmat Saeed asked the counsel to provide a paper trail for these transactions, and said, “You have been moving from one point to the other since the beginning, but have failed to provide any evidence in this regard.”

The allegation is that Maryam Nawaz contacted Minerva Holdings, Raja retorted, upon this, the bench asked that evidence should be proved that Hussain Nawaz is the beneficial owner of the offshore companies.

PTI’s new evidence

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) had announced on Tuesday that it would submit three more documents to disprove the stance adopted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family, but the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is not convinced.

“We are submitting three more documents — one from PTI chairman Imran Khan that authenticates all previous documents presented by the party, the expert opinion of UK-based lawyers and a document that proves that Maryam Nawaz is the owner of UK-based firms Minerva, Nielson and Nescoll,” PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry told a press conference.

He said that Imran Khan would submit an affidavit stating that all documents previously submitted by the party were credible and authentic.

PML-N MNA Daniyal Aziz told Dawn that PTI’s lawyers had already completed their arguments and submitted all the evidence they had to the apex court. “Once they have completed their arguments, how can they file more documents?”

 

From The Guardian. London Archival Report

Search for the millions Sharif ‘stole’

The investigator Pakistan’s PM could not stop


They tortured Rehman Malik by placing his hands and feet on ice for up to an hour at a time at a ‘safe house’ in Islamabad. Three years on, he still has trouble feeling sensations in his palms and soles from the punishment, meted out in black masks, by Nawaz Sharif’s heavies.His neck, too, bears the painful crick from a year spent in solitary confinement in a tiny cell at Rawalpindi’s Adila jail with a brick wrapped in newspapers for a pillow. Malik, in mortal fear of convicted terrorists and official hatchet men, found his monthly half-hour visit from his seven-year-old son his single comfort.

Three times following his arrest in November 1996 the courts ordered Malik’s release. Each time he was re-arrested on trumped up charges until, after 12 months of humiliation, the Pakistani Supreme Court itself ruled his detention illegal.

Malik’s crime? To have been the deputy head of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Pakistan’s equivalent of the FBI, investigating allegations of massive corruption by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his family, and cronies.

At 46, he was the youngest officer to reach such a senior rank, the equivalent of an army major-general. In a 20-year career, Malik had gained an impressive reputation in the West for anti-terrorist expertise, including investigation of the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing in New York and of Saudi fundamentalist Osama bin Laden. And, after Malik’s inquiries were publicized by The Observer last year, he started a ball rolling which culminated in the coup against Sharif. ‘I have suffered enormously from doing my duty as a civil servant. My friends, family, and colleagues have been harassed. My life has been at risk,’ Malik told The Observer in his first UK interview since fleeing Pakistan for London after an attempt on his life 15 months ago. ‘I am not a politician, but I welcome the army’s action. They have saved Pakistan from someone who was ruining the country. As a career officer, I would like to return to fulfill my official obligations as soon as possible.’

He is also promising further explosive revelations, which will implicate Sharif and senior Muslim League politicians in allegedly creaming off more of the country’s wealth overseas.

Malik’s report last year was painful enough for the deposed Prime Minister, as were the cat-and-mouse tactics by which Malik has been a thorn in his side since. The 200-page report, smuggled into the country on Sharif’s official Jumbo jet, set out a secret web of fake bank accounts and firms in offshore tax havens through which Sharif’s family allegedly siphoned off more than $70 million (£40m) into London property, Swiss investments and banks in New York.

The family, whose empire grew hugely while Sharif was in office, was also accused of defaulting on $120m of state bank loans, a favourite way of milking the public purse.

According to further documents seen by The Observer, however, the revelations appear to be the tip of an iceberg. Following inquiries over the past year, Malik says he has established further channels by which the Sharif family channelled money illegally offshore.

They include $2.74m allegedly deposited in the account of an Essex-based Pakistani family at the Atlas BOT (Bank of Tokyo) Investment Bank in Lahore as security for loans to four Sharif family members. They also include $4.6m deposited at the Al Faysal Investment Bank in Islamabad as security for a loan to Hamza Board Mills, a paper, and forestry firm in the Sharif family’s Ittefaq group.

Among all his amassed wealth, Sharif also appears to have concealed ownership of a Russian-made Ulan helicopter, which he used during election campaigns. The aircraft, worth more than $1m, was bought from an Arab prince, Sheikh Abdul Rehman Bin Nasir Al Thani of Qatar, in November 1996 and registered in Sharif’s name at the Pakistani Civil Aviation Authority, according to official documents obtained by Malik. It was, however, not declared on Sharif’s statutory filing of assets and liabilities to the country’s Election Commission. ‘This was a man who once told me he could not afford a second-hand Mercedes. How then could he buy a helicopter?’ Malik asks.

Most explosive of all, however, is likely to be Malik’s new investigation, which is almost concluded and alleges laundering of more than $100m offshore via a network of UK trusts, Swiss accounts and offshore havens including Liechtenstein.

An Observer investigation has revealed other instances of alleged corruption during Sharif’s last administration:

• In an emergency budget after Pakistan’s nuclear tests last year, import duties on luxury cars were cut from 325 per cent to 125 per cent. A week later they were restored. In between a friend of Sharif imported 80 cars.

• In 1996 senior figures at Bankers Equity Limited, a finance house granted a huge loan, believed to be more than £10m, to close associates of Sharif. Last summer the bank collapsed and several senior managers, including a friend of Sharif’s, were arrested. The loan is outstanding.

• After the 1997 elections the Sharif family and their business concerns were able to reschedule and renegotiate loans worth nearly £100m from eight banks. When ordered by courts to pay some back they surrendered 33 factories. Only one factory was fully operational, the rest closed, out of order, or both.

Sharif, his family, and former Ministers have consistently dismissed the allegations as politically inspired.

Sharif himself is still in ‘preventative custody’, as the army calls it, in a government guesthouse on the outskirts of Islamabad. General Pervez Musharraf, the self-appointed Chief Executive of Pakistan, has not revealed his plans for the man ousted in a coup 10 days ago. Military sources say the evidence is being gathered to put Sharif on trial for corruption and possibly treason.

Sharif’s former residence, the 100-acre Raiwind estate, near the city of Lahore in eastern Pakistan, is widely seen as a symbol of the opulent lifestyle the Sharifs have led since their pursuit of power and wealth began to pay off 15 years ago. Last week The Observer was the first Western newspaper to visit it since Sharif’s fall.

Brand new roads lead out of Lahore, where the Sharifs have two other houses, to the walled 100-acre estate. A turning leads to a helicopter pad and a set of steel gates. Beyond is an open, grassy compound where five houses, all in white-washed villa style, lie in a rough circle around a man-made pond. Each has a huge colonnaded porch sheltering a £20,000 four-wheel drive Jeep. Two of the buildings are partially constructed as is a pool, though a lake stocked with fish is completed. There is a small zoo.

All the houses are similar, with deep red carpets and velvet curtains throughout. Sharif’s own house is distinguished by the number of televisions – the Prime Minister was gadget crazy. Now army machine gunners have replaced the bodyguards who previously watched the compound’s perimeter. And the muzzles of their weapons point in as much as out.

Raiwind is, to the ousted Prime Minister’s critics at least, a symbol of how his administration manipulated government to benefit itself.

According to opposition spokesmen, Sharif has ‘used public office for personal economic gain’. It is corruption, they say, even if it is within the letter of the law.

Soon after coming to power for a second time in February 1997 Sharif declared the Raiwind site to be the ‘Prime Minister’s Camp Office’ – his home away from the capital. The local municipal authority took on the estate’s maintenance at an estimated annual cost of 40 million Pakistani rupees (£500,000) and built a new road for it, while the state has also supplied gas, electricity and a 200-line telephone exchange.

Near Raiwind last week feelings were mixed about Sharif’s fall. Many remain loyal to a man they see as a local boy made good. ‘He has done a lot around here,’ said Ahmadullah Ali, a farmer. ‘He is a good man.’ In the rough and tumble world of Pakistani politics, Sharif may be down, but he still isn’t out.

 Reference Courtesy

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