CORRUPTION BAZAAR: NAWAZ SHARIF AND CRONIES HIJACK PIA

 

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True Face of Nawaz Sharif & Ahsan Iqbal Exposed by Talat


 

 

Living like a king — Sharif’s litany of abuses

News Intelligence Unit
By Kamran Khan

  

While constantly pleading with expatriate Pakistanis to send their hard-earned dollars to their motherland, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif caused a dent of at least Rs 110 crore to the national exchequer through the 28 foreign trips he undertook after assuming power on February 17, 1997.

Official documents seen by the News Intelligence Unit (NIU) disclosed that about Rs 15 crore were spent from the tax-payers money for Nawaz Sharif’s six Umra trips. For almost each of his foreign visits, Nawaz Sharif used his special Boeing plane that he had promised to return to PIA for commercial use in his famous national agenda speech in June last year.

Almost unbelievably, instead of keeping his promise to return this special aircraft to PIA, Sharif ordered an extravagant US$1.8 million renovation of his aircraft that turned the Boeing into an airborne palace. While reading sermons on austerity to the nation on almost every domestic tour, on this aircraft — on which all the seats were in a first class configuration — Nawaz Sharif and his entourage would always be served a specially-cooked, seven-course meal. PIA’s former chairman Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had, in fact, hired a cook who was familiar with Sharif’s craze for a special type of ‘Gajrela’ (carrot dessert).

While aboard his special plane, Sharif was always served ‘Lassi’ or Badami milk in a Mughal style silver glass by a crew of his choice. Even on domestic flights, Sharif and his men would be served with Perrier water, not available even to first class domestic passengers. The towels he would use on board, had golden embroidery.

Not for a moment, after making his historic promise to the nation in June last year for leaving the palatial prime minister house for a modest residence in Islamabad, did Nawaz Sharif show any intention to leave the prime minister’s palace. On the contrary, soon after that speech, the Prime Minister House received fresh supplies of imported crockery and groceries.

Some of the permanent in-house residents were Sharif’s personal friends, including one Sajjad Shah who used to crack jokes and play songs for him. Sharif’s little-known political mentor Hasan Pirzada, who died last month, always lived at the Prime Minister House. Sources estimate that Pirzada’s daily guest-list to the PM House numbered around 100 people who were always served with meals or snacks.

In the first year of Nawaz Sharif’s second term in power, Hamid Asghar Kidwai of Mehran bank fame, lived and operated from the Prime Minister House until he was appointed Pakistan’s ambassador to Kenya.

While making unending promises of instituting merit in all appointments and selections, Sharif played havoc with the system while issuing personal directives by ordering 30 direct appointments of officers in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). While Sharif was ordering these unprecedented direct appointments, his crony Saifur Rahman was seeking strict punishment and disqualification of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto for making direct appointments in Pakistan International Airlines.

Out of these 30 people who were directly appointed on posts ranging from deputy director to inspector in the FIA — without interviews, examination or training — 28 were from Lahore and were all close to the Sharif family or his government. One of the lucky inductees was a nephew of President Rafiq Tarar.

Nawaz Sharif had such an incredible liking for his friends from Lahore or Central Punjab, that not a single non-Central Punjabi was included in his close circle, both at the political or administrative levels in the Prime Minister’s Office. At one point, during his tenure, there was not a single Sindhi-speaking active federal secretary in Islamabad.

For about the first 18 months of Sharif’s second term in office, 41 of the most important appointments in Pakistan were in the hands of individuals who were either from Lahore or Central Punjab, despite the total lack of representation of smaller provinces in State affairs. Sharif stunned even his cabinet by choosing Rafiq Tarar for the post of President.

Unknown-7His activities were almost totally Lahore or Punjab focussed, reflected by the fact that in the first 16 months of power, he had only one overnight stay in Karachi. Conversely, he held an open Kutchery on every Sunday in Lahore, a gesture he never showed in any of the smaller provinces.

Nawaz Sharif, who had always promised a ‘small government’ ended up with no less than 48 people with the status of a federal minister in his cabinet. Ironically, less than fifteen per cent of the people in 49-member cabinet came from the three smaller provinces.

While anti-corruption rhetoric always topped his public speeches, Nawaz Sharif demonstrated tremendous tolerance for corruption as he completely ignored strong evidence laden corruption reports against Liaquat Ali Jatoi and his aides in Karachi.

Sources said that volumes of documents on the corruption of Liaquat Ali Jatoi, his brother Senator Sadaqat Ali Jatoi, the then Sindh health secretary and several of Liaquat’s personal staff members were placed before Nawaz Sharif, but he never ordered any action. These sources said that Nawaz Sharif also ignored evidence that showed Liaquat’s newly discovered business interests in Dubai and London.

Informed official sources said that Nawaz Sharif also ignored reports, even those produced by Shahbaz Sharif, about rampant corruption in the Ehtesab Cell (EC). Shahbaz Sharif and several other cabinet ministers had informed Sharif that Khalid Aziz and Wasim Afzal, Saifur Rahman’s right-hand men in the EC were involved in institutionalised corruption through extortion from Ehtesab victims and manipulation of the Intelligence Bureau’s secret funds.

Sources said that the Ehtesab Cell had issued official departmental cards to one Sarfraz Merchant, involved in several cases of bootlegging and another to Mumtaz Burney, a multi-billionaire former police official who had earlier been sacked from the service for being hand in glove with a notorious drug baron. Sharif was told that these two notorious individuals were serving as middle men between Khalid Aziz, Wasim Afzal and those sought by the EC both here and abroad.

Fully aware that Khawer Zaman and Major General Enayet Niazi were amongst the most honest and upright director generals of the FIA, he booted them out only to be replaced by handpicked cronies such as Major (Retd) Mohammad Mushtaq.

Sources said that while posting Rana Maqbool Ahmed as the Inspector General Police, Sindh, Nawaz Sharif was reminded by his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif about his reputation as one of the most corrupt Punjab police officers and also about his shady past. But Nawaz Sharif not only installed Rana as the IGP, but also acted on his advice to remove Gen. Moinuddin Haider as the Governor Sindh.

In a startling paradox, right at the time when the government media campaign was at its peak about the properties of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari in Britain, particularly Rockwood estate in Surrey, disclosures came to light about the Sharif family’s multi-million pound apartments in London’s posh district of Mayfair.

The apartment No: 16, 16a, 17 and 17a that form the third floor of the Avonfield House in Mayfair is the residential base for Sharif family in London. Records show that all those four apartments were in the name Nescoll Ltd and Nielson Ltd Ansbacher (BVI) Ltd, the two off-shore companies managed by Hans Rudolf Wegmuller of Banque Paribas en Suisse and Urs Specker — the two Swiss nationals alleged to be linked with Sharif’s offshore fortune.

In a knee-jerk reaction last year, Sharif first denied the ownership of those flats. Later, his younger son Hasan Nawaz Sharif said the family had leased only two of the flats, while their spokesmen, including former law minister Khalid Anwer, said that Sharif had actually rented those flats.

But what will count with legal experts is the fact that in their tax returns, none of the Sharif family members had ever showed any foreign ownership of any properties, nor had their tax returns listed payments for any rented apartments abroad.

“With the sale of these Mayfair apartments, you can buy three Rockwood-size properties of Asif Zardari,” commented a source, who added that Sharif’s third party owned properties in Britain may land them in a crisis comparable only with Benazir and Zardari’s cases abroad.

In another example of hypocrisy, while Sharif geared up his government’s campaign against loan defaulters in Pakistan, a High Court in London declared his family a defaulter and ordered them to pay US$ 18.8 million to Al-Towfeek Company and its subsidiary Al-Baraka Islamic Bank as payment for interest and loan they had borrowed for Hudabiya Papers Limited.

The court papers said that the Sharifs refused to make payments on the principle amount and instead directed official action against the Arab company’s business interests in Pakistan. Informed sources said that a few days before the fall of the Nawaz Sharif government on October 12, lawyers representing the Sharif family were busy in hectic behind-the-scenes negotiations with Al-Towfeek executives in London for an out-of-court settlement. These sources said that negotiations in London broke down soon after the army action in Islamabad.

While Nawaz Sharif deployed the entire state machinery and spent millions of dollars from the IB’s secret fund to prove money-laundering charges against Benazir Bhutto and her husband abroad, his government crushed any attempt by the FIA to move the Supreme Court of Pakistan against a decision handed down by the Lahore High Court absolving the Sharif family from money-laundering charges instituted against them by the last PPP government.

FIA officials who had investigated the money-laundering charges against the Sharifs faced termination from service, while the agency was told that even a decision to probe money-laundering was a crime. This particular case is likely to now go to the Supreme Court in the next few weeks.

SEVERAL INQUIRIES AGAINST SHARIFS PENDING WITH NAB  

ISLAMABAD – Some three corruption references and almost half a dozen inquiries were pending with National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Accountability Courts against former Premier and PML-N President Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and his other family members, but the same could not be reopened as the Division Bench of Lahore High Court Rawalpindi Bench had barred the NAB to proceed against Sharif family.

Officials in the National Accountability Bureau informed The Nation that the Division Bench of Lahore High Court Rawalpindi Bench consisting of Justice Ijazul Hasan and Justice Wahid Khan, an appellate forum of Accountability Courts, had barred the Accountability Courts to proceed against Mian Nawaz Sharif and other family members in these three cases in October last year. The preemptive move was made in the Division Bench of LHC Rawalpindi after the incumbent Chairman NAB Admiral (Retd) Fasih Bokhari was appointed despite the objection on his appointment was made through a letter written to President Asif Ali Zardari by Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Ch. Nisar Ali Khan.

Sources in the PML-N informed that they had secured stay order against reopening of these cases from the Appellate Court only to prevent the PPP-led coalition government to use these cases for arm twisting of the PML-N leadership though NAB.

So an application for early hearing of their petition, pending with the court for past several months, was initiated and the very next day of moving of the application by AkramSheikh Advocate stay against the opening of these cases was secured from the Division Bench of LHC Rawalpindi.

All the three cases-Hudaybia Paper Mills,Ittefaq Foundries and Assets reference—were framed against Mian Nawaz Sharif and his family members after dislodging of his elected government in 1999 and during year 2000 and initially all the three cases had been fixed for trial at Accountability Court Attock where Mian Nawaz Sharif and his brother MianShahbaz Sharif were kept after the dislodging of their government. All these cases were adjourned sine die under some clandestine deal when Mian Nawaz Sharif and his family was exiled to Saudi Arabia.

These cases were reopened in year 2007 when the Supreme Court allowed Mian Nawaz Sharif to return back to Pakistan but once again he was sent back to Saudi Arabia moments after he landed here at Islamabad Airport.

The request for the reopening of these cases was again made in year 2010 when the then Prosecutor General NAB Dr Danishwar Malik had moved an application seeking reopening of these cases on the plea that as the accused in these cases had returned back to the country so the cases against them should be reopened. But the matter once again went into limbo when the Accountability Court Rawalpindi No. 1 judge directed the Prosecutor General to furnish the request for reopening of these cased duly signed by Chairman NAB but as the slot of Chairman NAB was vacant and once again the court had adjourned these cases sine die. In State vs Hudaybia Paper Mills (Pvt) Ltd-nine members of the Sharif family were accused of committing a corruption of Rs 642.743 million.

As per NAB allegations the accused had secured loan against the Hudaybia Paper Mills and later used this money to pay off the loans of other companies owned by the Sharif family. Mian Muhammad Sharif, Mian Nawaz Sharif, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Mian Abbas Sharif, Hussain Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, Mrs Shamim Akhtar (Mother to NawazSharif), Mrs Sabiha Abbas, Mrs Maryam Safdar and former Federal Minister Ishaq Dar were the accused in this reference.

In State Vs Ittefaq Foundries etc, Mian Nawaz Sharif, his brother Mian Abbas Sharif and Kamal Qureshi were charged with the willful default of Rs 1.06 billion.

The main allegation against the accused in this case was that M/s Ittefaq Foundries Ltd obtained cash finance from National Bank. As per NAB allegations, the company willfully defaulted to pay back the amount in 1994. In State vs Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif etc is about the Raiwind assets.

Main allegation in this reference is that the accused had acquired vast tracts of land on which a number of palatial houses and mansions were constructed with less resources, which appeared to be grossly disproportionate to their known sources of income. As per NAB allegations, there involved an amount Rs 247.352 million that is under question. Apart from Mian Nawaz Sharif, his mother was also an accused in this case.

There are six investigations against Sharif pending before the NAB following Chairman NAB’s order. These pending investigations included; case of illegal appointments in theFIA against Mian Nawaz Sharif; misuse of authority by Nawaz Sharif as ex-Chief Minister Punjab in the construction of road from Raiwind to Sharif family house causing loss of Rs125 million; Sharif Trust case against Nawaz Sharif/Sharif Trust involving allegation of money laundering, misappropriation of trust funds and acquisition of benami assets in the name of Sharif Trust; London properties case against Nawaz Sharif and others regarding owning of Aven Field properties in London; Illegal appointments in PIA allegedly byMian Nawaz Sharif, and corruption in the allotment of Lahore Development Authority (LDA) plots involving ex-CM Nawaz Sharif, ex-DG LDA Brig (Retd) Manzoor Malik, ex-Director Estate and Shahid Rafi.

Two pending inquiries against Sharifs in the NAB included a complaint of allotment of LDA plots and another complaint about alleged misappropriation of government property by allotting 12 plots to Mian Attaullah instead of one in Gulshan Ravi Scheme ,thereby, causing loss of Rs 20 million to the State.

It is pertinent to mention here that Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and other accused in plane hijacking and helicopter case were acquitted

 
 

 

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