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Posts Tagged Asif Ali Zardari

PML-N’s Paranoia

PML-N’s Paranoia

PML-N’s Paranoia

Recent statements by PML-N leaders show their complete lack of self-confidence regarding how they have governed Pakistan in a little over six months. Despite acquiring the mandate to govern the federation and the country’s largest province, statements by the Interior Minister regarding the Opposition’s so-called plans for precipitating “mid-term” elections – especially when the incumbent government has more than four years left in its tenure, and when local bodies elections are just around the corner – are nothing but the party’s own acknowledgment that it has fallen short of its pre-election commitments and that their government has not been able to deliver in terms of alleviating the daily problems of the masses, controlling inflation, providing jobs, sustaining the economy, and providing good governance by rooting out corruption and nepotism (something the PML-N is notorious for itself). Statements to this effect – especially when they have been categorically rejected by the two main Opposition parties in the National Assembly, the PPP and the PTI – only betray the PML-N’s paranoia (rather than its “pareshani” or worries) and lack of self-confidence regarding their own performance in government.

Even to the naked eye untrained in the peculiarities of Pakistan’s national and provincial politics, it is obvious that the PML-N has been elected with a much “heavier” mandate than its predecessor PPP government: it has a much stronger presence in the National Assembly than the PPP did between 2007 and 2013, when it had to form a minority government with the backing of various other coalition partners. On the very night of the May 2013 general elections, with less than 2% of the polls counted, the PML-N chief (and now Prime Minister) declared his party victorious and “prayed to the Almighty” that the party does not have to form a coalition government supported by political partners that would extract heavy concessions and effectively disable the PML-N from following its own path of governance (and essentially “going it alone” when it came to running the government of Pakistan). Despite this overt strength of numbers that the PML-N enjoys in the National Assembly – a quality that the party has historically used to convert Parliament into a rubber stamp for the Cabinet (or rather, the Prime Minister) – and the fact that there is no cohesive, coherent, unified, focused or combined political opposition to the PML-N for miles around, the party is still paranoid about parties with a handful of seats in the NA (relative to the Treasury benches) trying to overturn the government using “extra-Constitutional” measures. In this scenario, there is no other explanation for the statement of the Interior Minister (which has been rejected by the main Opposition parties) and the general sentiment within the PML-N (as well as the general public sentiment towards the new, post-May 2013 government) except that they are paranoid about their ineffective governance of the country, the faltering indicators and statistics, the worsening living condition of the average Pakistani and especially the poor, and the continuing nose-dive of the economy and the security/law and order situation. The defensive attitude of the PML-N’s own parliamentarians and spokespersons, along with bursts of verbal retaliation every now and then, continue to betray the party’s paranoia and self-perception of weakness and failure, despite the obvious strength of its Constitutional position as the rightfully mandated government of Pakistan. Perhaps the party, its senior office-bearers and elected cadres realize this early that they have not been able to live up to the expectations that they had created in the hearts and minds of the Pakistani people during 2012 and the early period of 2013. While it is hoped that the PML-N government does not continue to exhibit this defeatist and defensive attitude, and actually refines its governance methodology so as to fix its mistakes and improve the way the state of Pakistan provides general services and a livable environment for its citizens of all classes and creeds, the strengths of the PML-N – as apparent since their ascent to power after May 2013 – actually cause concern and raise many an eyebrow when they themselves interpret and express their position of power to be one of helplessness and ready defeat, of a morose and moribund condition which cannot be improved in the coming years (especially before 2018, which is quite possible to do so, but the PML-N’s behaviour and attitude makes experts and analysts think otherwise). One wonders if this is a political ploy, or a governance tactic that will continue for the coming five years of the incumbent parliamentary tenure, or an actual helplessness on part of the governing administration to fix the country’s problems and provide a better economy, society, security environment, governance policy, implementation mechanism and living standard for all Pakistanis.

The assertion that this is just paranoia on part of the ruling PML-N dispensation is not an unfounded notion that has no basis in fact or reality. A simple comparison with the preceding government alone – and not the Musharraf regime from 2002 to 2007/08, or even the governments of the 1990s – can rule out all other reasons for the PML-N to be acting in such a manner.

The PML-N’s parliamentary strength – greater than that of the PPP from 2008 to 2013 – has already been made clear. The PML-N does not – and did not – need support from other political parties to form a government, or to pass the budget (Finance Bill 2013/14), or to enact other laws (the most important law, concerning the country’s security situation, was dealt with through a Presidential Ordinance called the “Protection of Pakistan Ordinance”, which will require approval by the federal parliamentary legislatures within 90 days of the Ordinance being given assent by the President of Pakistan). Other factors such as major appointments to Constitutional posts – which the PML-N faced minimal problems in addressing, except for their own intra-party indecision and consistent rethinking up to the last minutes – also reflect the strength of the PML-N to be greater than that of its predecessor government. The PML-N elected its candidate for the President of Pakistan to the supreme office of the head of state: Mamnoon Hussain now occupies that prestigious post, but unlike his immediate predecessor, Asif Ali Zardari, President Hussain has yet to take any significant initiative on his own – whether political or administrative. PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari joked on Twitter about how Pakistan’s new President is much more comfortable being inactive behind the scenes while the nation faces critical challenges and significant threats on a daily basis. The PML-N government also fed stories to the media about how the country’s new Army Chief would be announced and decided well in advance of General Kayani’s retirement in November 2013: this did not happen, as the last-minute adjustments had to take place before incumbent Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif was appointed and given command of Pakistan’s most important state institution. General Sharif (no relation to the Prime Minister) superseded only one senior General, who was the senior-most and who retired in order to pave the way for General Sharif’s appointment, and the other General senior to General Sharif was appointed to the post of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC). The incumbent Chairman of the JCSC previously served as Corps Commander Lahore, and is therefore an eminently suitable choice to advise the government on matters related to the armed forces of Pakistan. The new Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif, was instrumental in designing and deploying the Pakistan Army’s new command and control doctrine, which was effectively and successfully tested with the Azm-e-Nau (New Resolve) exercises that the Army undertook with the Air Force in recent years. The superseded General – a commando and former General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the elite Special Services Group (SSG) of the Pakistan Army – had personally led special forces units of the Pakistan Army into battle in Swat and Malakand division, particularly in the Battle of Peochar Valley, to ouster TTP elements and extremist militant groups loyal to Mullah Fazlullah (the new commander of the TTP after Hakeemullah Mehsud was killed in a U.S. drone strike on the eve of the commencement of the Pakistan government’s “peace talks” initiative with the militant group). This officer, the senior-most General after the former Army Chief General Kayani, chose to retire rather than continue serving as a three-star general or as Chief of General Staff (CGS, a prestigious appointment in the Pakistan Army, usually awarded to the senior-most general after the COAS himself) in order to avoid any undue controversy or dissension among the rank and file of the Pakistan Army. In addition to reconfiguring the Pakistan Army’s doctrine and command to face the modern challenges and threat matrix present before the country and its security apparatus, General Sharif is a third-generational soldier, and his brother – Major Shabbir Sharif – is a recipient of the posthumous Nishan-e-Haider medal, the highest military honour of the Pakistan Armed Forces which is awarded to a martyr who performs the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefield in service of the motherland. After electing their candidate as the new President and selecting their own choice for appointment as the new Army Chief, the PML-N government also paved a smooth path for the new Chief Justice of Pakistan, Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, as Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry retired from the Supreme Court as the apex judicial officer of the country after an illustrious tenure filled with highlights – especially after 2007, when the now-retired CJP provided opposition parties the ultimate platform for opposing the military regime that tried to oust him twice, but met its ignominious demise in doing so. After his return to the office of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Chaudhry became the hero of the masses, and took suo moto notices of many major and minor incidents like no other judge in the history of Pakistan (or in modern history, thus causing many analysts and jurists to comment on the unfettered judicial activism of Pakistan’s superior judiciary), and making use of the country’s “vibrant” electronic media (another offspring of the dictator’s military regime) to take suo moto notices as well as make pronouncements regarding judicial proceedings well in advance of the truncation of these proceedings to the effect of pronouncing a judgment in such cases. As such, CJP Chaudhry proved to be a continuous bane for the Musharraf regime as well as for the subsequent PPP regime, putting judicial as well as public pressure (via the media) on the government and the administration. CJP Chaudhry will go down in history as the first Chief Justice to disqualify a sitting Prime Minister from his seat in the National Assembly, and therefore, of his Constitutional office of the country’s chief executive and head of government. CJP Chaudhry’s successor, CJP Jillani, is known as the “mild-mannered judge” and the “gentleman judge”, and has so far refrained from making use of the country’s electronic media and/or other avenues of pressure and force, and seems intent on restoring the judiciary’s honour and impartiality by maintaining the sanctity of cases being heard by the apex court as “sub judice” and therefore illegal for discussion in the public domain until the judiciary provides its judgment on the matter: something that CJP Chaudhry was quick to penalize others for, and hold them in contempt of court, while he himself basked in the media’s limelight as his verbatim statements were launched by news channels as headlines and breaking news even though no judgment had been issued (and the cases remained “sub judice”, or under the jurisdiction of the judiciary and out of the public domain).

As the PML-N filled these three important Constitutional posts – and did so without the fanfare or the controversy or the negative media limelight that the PPP government endured – its strength as the government of Pakistan was definitely augmented within the first six months of its coming into power, and added to the strength of its numbers in the National Assembly. In 2009, the PPP government was forced by the PML-N (which was then in the Opposition in the National Assembly) to reinstate CJP Chaudhry after a legal dispute caused the imposition of Governor’s Rule in the Punjab province, and the PML-N – which lost its government in the province – launched a “long march” towards Islamabad for the restoration of the CJP (but turned back at Gujranwala after the then-PM Gillani – who was later ousted by CJP Chaudhry himself – announced the reappointment of CJP Chaudhry in a late-night address to the nation: after taking the reins of the Supreme Court once again, CJP Chaudhry declared the Governor’s Rule in Punjab to be illegal, thereby restoring the PML-N government in that province). In the same manner, the PPP government extended the tenure of COAS General Kayani for an additional three years through a late-night address to the nation by PM Gillani – a measure which drew negative responses from many quarters, including the PML-N, regarding the method of the announcement, and making connections regarding possibilities that the announcement was made at a time when “the U.S. would be awake”.

After the resignation of President Musharraf, the PPP and its allied parties elected Asif Ali Zardari to the office of the President. President Zardari served five years as head of state, during which he actively worked for consensus and reconciliation among all political parties – especially the government’s coalition partners. In addition, he was instrumental in overturning the 17th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan and – under the auspices of the 18th Amendment – returning important Constitutional powers to the office of the Prime Minister and to the Parliament, thus restoring the Constitution in its original shape as per the 1973 document and giving power to the federal parliamentary setup in the country rather than keeping such powers with the office of the President (as General Musharraf had done). President Zardari also faced a lot of flak from the Supreme Court and from other quarters (political, public and others) regarding allegations of corruption that had dogged him since the 1990s, for which he faced 11 years in jail and emerged “without a single case being proven” (although the reality is that he was one of the primary beneficiaries of the National Reconciliation Ordinance promulgated by General Musharraf to woo the PPP and its erstwhile leader, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated after addressing an election rally in Rawalpindi in December 2007). For his refusal to write a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen cases against Asif Ali Zardari, who was then President of Pakistan and enjoyed immunity in Pakistani and foreign courts (as admitted by Swiss judicial authorities as well), PM Gillani was declared to be in contempt of court by CJP Chaudhry, and was ultimately disqualified from holding his seat in the National Assembly and the office of the Prime Minister. The PPP’s President, Asif Ali Zardari, was also the focus of the oft-discussed “minus-one formula”, wherein the PPP government was told that it would be allowed to continue in government without any overt, existential threat from any quarter (judicial, legislative, or extra-Constitutional) if President Zardari were to vacate office (and perhaps also leave the control of the PPP – as the President of Pakistan is bound to be an apolitical entity and cannot hold an office of profit or a membership in any political organization or party while serving as head of state). The Lahore High Court admitted petitions regarding President Zardari’s occupancy of the office of Co-Chairperson of the PPP, and accepted the petitioner’s prayers that the President be asked (or ordered) to relinquish one of two posts: either that of the President (i.e. head of the state), or that of the party co-chief (i.e. the political office). While facing political, media and public threats like these to its very existence, the PPP government was obviously paranoid and defensive – and its members and parliamentarians also paid heavy prices during the 2008-2013 era as well as in the May 2013 general elections. The PML-N faces no such threats so far, and the kinds of threats faced by the PPP do not bear any resemblance (and are of far greater magnitude and severity) to those that the PML-N government currently faces.

So what are the reasons for the PML-N to be so paranoid, despite spending only six months in government at the center? This paranoia is also surprising because most of the negative media attention is focused on the new entry in Pakistan’s national politics, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf or PTI, and particularly its policy on drone strikes and the protest sit-in (dharna) that its workers are dedicated to in Peshawar and KP province (where the PTI is in power) so as to stop and deter NATO supplies to Afghanistan until the U.S. announces a complete and unilateral cessation of drone strikes in Pakistan’s FATA areas (like the one that killed former TTP leader Hakeemullah Mehsud, and his predecessor Baitullah Mehsud).

Many analysts point to the worsening economy of Pakistan under the PML-N regime since May 2013: the poor economic performance is highlighted by uncontrollable inflation and price hikes instituted by the PML-N government, as well as the continued weakness of the Rupee against the U.S. Dollar (which has stabilized to a certain extent, but is still at a dangerous level because Pakistan’s foreign currency reserves are only sufficient to meet approximately one month’s import bill). The PML-N’s poor economic performance is also highlighted by its acquisition of a U.S.$ 6 billion loan from the IMF, despite claims that it would “break the begging bowl” that Pakistan’s governments take when going abroad to wealthier countries or to donor agencies. This would point to the PML-N’s realization that it is itself backtracking on its electoral pledges and manifesto promises, on the economy and on other issues of national governance. The PML-N’s paranoia can also be attributed to foreign policy failures and national security failures: the biggest example of a combination of these two is the apparent “sabotage” of Pakistan’s so-called “peace process” with the TTP by a U.S. drone strike which killed TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsud and brought the rabid Mullah Fazlullah to the helm of the umbrella militant organization, thereby dashing any hopes of a negotiated settlement with the terrorist grouping that claims to command between 50 and 70 militant organizations under its operational and ideological umbrella. The Prime Minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif, simultaneously held the portfolios of Defence Minister as well as Foreign Minister: the portfolio of Defence Minister has now been given to Water and Power Minister Khawaja Asif, ostensibly so that the head of the Defence Ministry may appear before the Supreme Court in the “missing persons case”. Regardless of that, the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister are still struggling to carve out a suitable and implementable foreign policy and regional policy for Pakistan – especially as the crucial year of 2014 is dawning – despite having experts like Sartaj Aziz and Tariq Fatemi and retaining them in an official advisory capacity to help finalize and implement Pakistan’s new foreign policy.

Nevertheless, Pakistan’s new foreign policy, as well as its much-touted National Security Policy, which was revealed to an All Parties Conference (APC) by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan (but has yet to be seen by the Pakistani public), seem to run into one failure after another. This is as serious a failure of governance as the PML-N’s incapacity to deliver on the economic front and on the internal security, law and order, and peace and stability fronts are. Corruption, nepotism, and privatization of vital state assets to favourites are issues that are being raised in the public domain by the media as well as by those who love to indulge in “drawing room discussions” on Pakistan’s politics. The notion here is that under the PML-N, a select elite with family ties to the governing dispensation (i.e. the “ruling family”) will continue to thrive and prosper while the gentry, the general public and the poor masses will continue to suffer in abject misery and face greater hardships as each day goes by. The price hikes in essential food commodities, petroleum and fuel oils, and electricity and gas bills (whose costs rise while the supply remains the same, or rather, falls) continue to haunt the people of Pakistan – albeit in a much more dangerous way than before. Senator Aitzaz Ahsan rightfully said on the floor of the upper house of Parliament that those who cannot make a budget for an average Pakistani who earns Rs. 10,000 per month cannot be expected to make a budget that would work for the entire country. This drew an angry – and ill-fitting – response from the Finance Minister, Senator Ishaq Dar, who exclaimed that instead of praising his efforts and giving due consideration to his health condition, the Parliament is keen on deriding his statements, pronouncements, and work as Finance Minister. He called this the Opposition’s “drama’s”, while Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar was quick to decry the Opposition’s (and particularly the PTI’s) “tamasha’s” when they ask for Election Tribunals to verify ballots cast through Constitutionally prescribed methods: in their paranoia, the PML-N and its senior party leaders expect the nation, the suffering public, and the Opposition (who are getting ready to beat the PML-N black and blue in upcoming local bodies elections – if they are held on time and in a free, fair and impartial manner) to blindly praise the government and not criticize it (whether constructively or obstructively) regardless of what it does. It is clear that the nation – and the Opposition parties – will be quick to take the PML-N to task as far as its traditional weaknesses of governance are concerned (particularly the issue of nepotism and the party’s inability to find suitable parliamentarians and elected experts to occupy ministerial offices, requiring the PM to take on more than one portfolio and the CM Punjab to take on a staggering dozen portfolios or more, while the CM – or “Khaadim e Aala”, as he prefers to call himself – appoints his son as Deputy CM of the Punjab province, like it is a monarchy or a feudal fiefdom and not a modern democracy). Any other opportunities that the PML-N government provides the Opposition or the public to criticize its governance methodology or the results of its enacted policies will indubitably add to the paranoia and helplessness that the party is feeling – and expressing – so early on, when it has barely completed a year in power.

One only hopes that the PML-N does not feel so helpless in the coming years, and that it transforms and grows as a party as well as an organization capable and worthy of governing Pakistan and the Punjab; and doing so effectively, while keeping the public interest supreme, in a transparent and open fashion that conforms to the requirements of a modern, pluralistic, democratic nation that has effective governance processes.

 

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CORRUPTION-RAIWIND STYLE

Nawaz Sharif’s Corruption highlighted in Raymond Baker’s book on Dirty Money
Raymond Baker in his book Capitalism’s Achilles HeelDirty Money and How to Renew the Free-Market System tried to understand the dynamics of how dirty money works.

Corruption and criminality run from the top down, with the political class constantly looting the national treasury and distorting economic policy for personal gain. Bank loans are granted largely on the basis of status and connections. The rich stash much of their money abroad in those willing western coffers, while exhibiting little inclination to repay their rupee borrowings. Pakistan’s recent history has been dominated by two families—the Bhuttos and the Sharifs—both merely tolerated by the military, the real power in the country. When it comes to economic destruction, there’s not a lot of difference among the three.

Pages 82-85 of the book cover the section on Nawaz Sharif: While Benazir Bhutto hated the generals for executing her father, Nawaz Sharif early on figured out that they held the real power in Pakistan. His father had established a foundry in 1939 and, together with six brothers, had struggled for years only to see their business nationalized by Ali Bhutto’s regime in 1972. This sealed decades of enmity between the Bhuttos and the Sharifs. Following the military coup and General Zia’s assumption of power, the business—Ittefaq—was returned to family hands in 1980.Nawaz Sharif became a director and cultivated relations with senior military officers. This led to his appointment as finance minister of Punjab and then election as chief minister of this most populous province in 1985. During the 1980s and early 1990s, given Sharif ’s political control of Punjab and eventual prime ministership of the country, Ittefaq Industries grew from its original single foundry into 30 businesses producing steel, sugar, paper, and textiles, with combined revenues of $400 million, making it one of the biggest private conglomerates in the nation. As in many other countries, when you control the political realm, you can get anything you want in the economic realm.
With Lahore, the capital of Punjab, serving as the seat of the family’s power, one of the first things Sharif did upon becoming prime minister in 1990 was build his long-dreamed-of superhighway from there to the capital,Islamabad. Estimated to cost 8.5 billion rupees, the project went through two biddings. Daewoo of Korea, strengthening its proposals with midnight meetings, was the highest bidder both times, so obviously it won the contract and delivered the job at well over 20 billion rupees.
A new highway needs new cars. Sharif authorized importation of 50,000 vehicles duty free, reportedly costing the government $700 million in lost customs duties. Banks were forced to make loans for vehicle purchases to would-be taxi cab drivers upon receipt of a 10 percent deposit.Borrowers got their “Nawaz Sharif cabs,” and some 60 percent of them promptly defaultedThis left the banks with $500 million or so in unpaid loans. Vehicle dealers reportedly made a killing and expressed their appreciation in expected ways. Under Sharif, unpaid bank loans and massive tax evasion remained the favorite ways to get rich. Upon his loss of power the usurping government published a list of 322 of the largest loan defaulters, representing almost $3 billion out of $4 billion owed to banks. Sharif and his family were tagged for $60 million. The Ittefaq Group went bankrupt in 1993 when Sharif lost his premiership the first time. By then only three units in the group were operational, and loan defaults of the remaining companies totaled some 5.7 billion rupees, more than $100 million.
Like Bhutto, offshore companies have been linked to Sharif, three in the British Virgin Islands by the names of Nescoll, Nielson, and Shamrock and another in the Channel Islands known as Chandron Jersey Pvt. Ltd. Some of these entities allegedly were used to facilitate purchase of four rather grand flats on Park Lane in London, at various times occupied by Sharif family members. Reportedly, payment transfers were made to Banque Paribas en Suisse, which then instructed Sharif ’s offshore companies Nescoll and Nielson to purchase the four luxury suites.
In her second term, Benazir Bhutto had Pakistan’s Federal Investigating Agency begin a probe into the financial affairs of Nawaz Sharif and his family. The probe was headed by Rehman Malik, deputy director general of the agency. Malik had fortified his reputation earlier by aiding in the arrest of Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. During Sharif ’s second term, the draft report of the investigation was suppressed, Malik was jailed for a year, and later reportedly survived an assassination attempt, after which he fled to London. The Malik report, five years in the making, was released in 1998, with explosive revelations:
The records, including government documents, signed affidavits from Pakistani officials, bank files and property records, detail deals that Mr. Malik says benefited Mr. Sharif, his family and his political associates:

  • At least $160 million pocketed from a contract to build a highway from Lahore, his home town, to Islamabad, the nation’s capital.
  • At least $140 million in unsecured loans from Pakistan’s state banks.
  • More than $60 million generated from government rebates on sugar exported by millscontrolled by Mr. Sharif and his business associates.
  • At least $58 million skimmed from inflated prices paid for imported wheat from the United States and Canada. In the wheat deal, Mr. Sharif ’s government paid prices far above market value to a private company owned by a close associate of his in Washington, the records show. Falsely inflated invoices for the wheat generated tens of millions of dollars in cash.

The report went on to state that “The extent and magnitude of this corruption is so staggering that it has put the very integrity of the country at stake.” In an interview, Malik added: “No other leader of Pakistan has taken that much money from the banks. There is no rule of law in Pakistan. It doesn’t exist.
What brought Sharif down in his second term was his attempt to acquire virtually dictatorial powers. In 1997 he rammed a bill through his compliant parliament requiring legislators to vote as their party leaders directed. In 1998 he introduced a bill to impose Sharia law (Muslim religious law) across Pakistan, with himself empowered to issue unilateral directives in the name of Islam. In 1999 he sought to sideline the army by replacing Chief of Staff Pervez Musharraf with a more pliable crony. He forgot the lessons he had learned in the 1980s: The army controls Pakistan and politicians are a nuisance. As Musharraf was returning from Sri Lanka, Sharif tried to sack him in midair and deny the Pakistan International Airways flight with 200 civilians on board landing rights in Karachi. Musharraf radioed from the aircraft through Dubai to his commander in Karachi, ordering him to seize the airport control tower, accomplished as the plane descended almost out of fuel. Musharraf turned the tables and completed his coup, and Sharif was jailed.
But Sharif had little to fear. This, after all, is Pakistan. Musharraf needed to consolidate his power with the generals, and Sharif knew details about the corruption of most of the brass. Obviously, it is better to tread lightly around the edges of your peer group’s own thievery. So Musharraf had Sharif probed, tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison, but then in 2000 exiled him to Saudi Arabia.Twenty-two containers of carpets and furniture followed, and, of course, his foreign accounts remained mostly intact. Ensconced in a glittering palace in Jeddah, he is described as looking “corpulent” amidst “opulent” surroundings. Reportedly, he and Benazir Bhutto even have an occasional telephone conversation, perhaps together lamenting how unfair life has become.

 

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