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Posts Tagged Asif Zardari Crook Par Excellence

The Other Miracle. by Saeed Akhtar Malik

The Other Miracle.

by

Saeed Akhtar Malik

Towards the end of Zardari’s tenure unimpeded plunder and misrule, PML-N, under the criminal guidance of its grand master, was sharpening its claws to have another dig at a Pakistan, which, as a result of Zardari’s remorseless depredations, was already becoming a carcass.
Nawaz Sharif, the top contender for the title of the greatest crook of a benighted and unfortunate land, in a keen tussle with Zardari, was running for PM a third time. The infamous “Charter of Democracy” signed between these two mega crooks, brought them on the same side, as they planned and executed the rape of their country.
The constitution was suitably amended to facilitate their hold on power, to give them immunity from accountability, and to reduce Pakistan to a confederation. The mutual give and take between Zardari and Nawaz Sharif which led to the mangling of the constitution, also allowed Nawaz Sharif to have a third crack at the fortunes of Pakistan.
 
Pakistan was used to being robbed in multifarious ways. The most usual of these was skimming off huge “commissions” and crafting of SROs, some of which had a life of no more than a day–opening the customs duty door for a single caper in the morning and closing it before nightfall. To this Zardari added his own innovations, like plain highway robbery and putting a huge premium on meetings with him, sought by rich businessmen wanting to become even richer, where time was allotted on a “per minute basis”, where each minute cost the supplicant, quite literally, lakhs of rupees.
But by the time a salivating Nawaz Sharif was due for his third stint at the helm, the conventional theft had lost its charm and thrill. To get one up on Zardari he wanted to do something spectacular. He wanted to pull off a caper which was not a simple spot job, but a linear caper which would keep on giving for at least a decade and a half.
For this, plans for an LNG deal with Qatar were ironed out. First, his own man was to be posted as ambassador to Qatar. Then Saif ur Rehman was made ambassador extraordinaire to bring his business expertise to craft the deal. Then a Pakistani businessman, who could be totally trusted, was brought in. And then, after he won the elections and became P.M for the third time, he appointed a minister in his cabinet to coordinate the massive theft, which was to be his first gift to his country kicking off his third innings of plunder.
The highlights of this deal were:
-LNG would be bought from Qatar at highly inflated prices at a time when gas prices were falling.
-This agreement would tie Pakistan to keep buying gas from Qatar at these inflated prices for the next 15 years.
-A terminal was to be built at Karachi for this LNG. The price of this terminal was U.S.D 30 million, but which was enhanced to between 120-130 million dollars.
-A clause was later added to the agreement, which stipulated that for each day that this terminal was not in use, Pakistan would pay charges of US $272,000—I am informed that for the last 45 days the terminal has not been in use. The readers may calculate what Pakistan has had to pay out!
But the most brilliant clause of this agreement with Qatar is that this agreement will remain “secret”. The reason given for this secrecy is that if the stipulations of the agreement became known, these would be a cause of embarrassment to a “brotherly Muslim country!”
So how was money to be made in this deal? This should be obvious. The difference between the real gas price and the inflated one will go to a Swiss bank account. The ninety or so million dollars “saved” in the cost of the terminal will go to the same account. And lastly, the “earning” of

$272,000 per day when this terminal was idle, would also go to the same account. And the first and last of these expenses to go to this account will keep doing so for the next FIFTEEN YEARS….burn your heart out Mr. Asif Ali Zardari because you’ve been had!
The man who coordinated, crafted, and executed this deal, is none other than Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the Prime Minister we have just sworn in to sit on the seat vacated by ex Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has just been kicked out for corruption!

Could there really be a greater miracle than this?

But the attendant question is, how does a poor country like ours pay for a deal like this? The answer is very simple. We get loans from IMF. These loans pay for scams like this one. So this is a “circular ” debt. Our leaders do the thieving; to pay for such thefts loans are taken from IMF; and the people of Pakistan are then to pay off such debts to IMF for the next hundred years, while Pakistan loses its sovereignty. Simple.
It is my contention that if the total volume of theft our politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, and generals have committed, can be computed, it will very nearly equal what we owe to the international lending agencies.
What we owe is known. What we earn is also known. This is simple maths. What we owe is more than we earn. We have to begin repaying what we owe by 2018. This we don’t have the resources to do. When we default on our international debt, sanctions is the first thing we should fear among many other arm twisting measures that will be taken against us. The cumulative effect of all these will be our loss of sovereignty. Those who have put up the money will demand their pound of flesh. It is my conviction that they will demand a surrender of our nuclear assets, an end to CPEC, and free play in Baluchistan.
Pakistan will be brought down to its very knees without an external enemy having had to fire a single shot. The shots that had to be fired have already been fired by our corrupt elite. While we were looking out towards our borders our rulers were busy hollowing out Pakistan. Mega corruption was always the single most lethal threat to our national security and survival and should have been laid down as a national security imperative. 
I have repeatedly tried to impress this on the minds of the powers that be. I have it on very good authority that what I was writing, was being read by Raheel Sharif. I appealed to him repeatedly to see the writing on the wall, and as the de facto guarantor of the security of the state, knock the doors of the Supreme Court to ask for in camera hearing on how Nawaz Sharif and company were impeding the efforts of Zarf e Azab, and how their plunder of the country was tantamount to the single greatest threat to the security of the state. But sadly, becoming Field Marshal, or getting a three-year extension seems to have grabbed the whole of his little mind, leaving little space for weightier matters.
Be that as it may, we are now in need of our third miracle, and this is to take the first miracle, the ouster of Nawaz Sharif, to its logical conclusion. 
Though Nawaz Sharif has been shown the door, he has left behind his pile of “loyal” refuse…. loyal because they were equally involved with the rape of their mother[land] in partnership with him. And they are determined to make Pakistan bleed and drag it to the very edge from where our Supreme Court has tried valiantly to drag it back.
This must immediately be stopped. Pakistan is a bleeding and very weak patient. It cannot bear any more cuts. If it has to survive, the cuts must immediately cease and the bleeding stopped.

The President, the Chief Justice, and the Army Chief should get together to do this. Because the de facto charge of national security lies with the Army Chief, it is he who should bring about this meeting.

And this meeting should decide to do the following 3 things;
1    –   At the moment there are no more than 20 people who need to be put away to ensure that no more instability is allowed to be visited upon Pakistan. About fifteen of them, though ministers today, can be cited for contempt of court. The evidence to do this exists in miles of TV footage. Take these fifteen out and the rest will run for cover.
2  –  The Supreme Court should take suo moto notice of literally hundreds of cases of corruption exposed by our media, and as a first step, put these people on ECL. These people are the only national treasure we have left. We need them to be here so that we can squeeze them and get back the gold they have stolen.
3 –  The President should be strengthened against forced resignation.
Just these three things need to be done, and thereafter the Army Chief need just send around a Subedar and he will be enough to do the mopping up.
In all this, the only thing the army should not be tempted to do is to come in to rule the country.

 

It should though, in partnership with the SC help clear the decks, and follow up with ensuring a clean election. And after the elections, it should throw its considerable heft behind ensuring that reforms be so made that the bureaucracy and the police be so restructured that their postings transfers and promotions are not hostages to the executive. Without subverting the police and the bureaucracy to their ends, political leaders cannot commit theft, and if they still manage to do so, they cannot be immune from the consequences.

The state should be seen as the supreme value. A constitution subverted to barter away the state can only be an inimical document, and must be brought back into a shape which guarantees the security of the state and the welfare of the people for whom it is the supreme law. A mangled constitution like ours is present, which ensures immunity to a corrupt and mercenary elite at the cost of the state and the people, can have no sanctity.
This time is crucial for the destiny of Pakistan. A beginning has been made so that a corrupt few do not make this destiny hostage. But if this beginning does not have a felicitous conclusion, the beginning will have no meaning. This is what the C.J and the Army Chief must be very clear about.
We’ve had the miracle of the ouster of Nawaz Sharif. We’ve then had the miracle of seeing Shahid Khaqaan Abassi elevated to Prime Minister. This second miracle nullifies the first. 
We now need a third miracle. We want the refuse of Nawaz and company swept out not just from our lives, but also from our memory. And we need to see being brought to the book Zardari and his footmen, along with camp followers like Fazl ur Rehman, Asfandyar Wali, Achakzai, the shit that Altaf Hussain has left behind, and the many who are hiding under their beds.
p.s

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I end with urging Gen Bajwa to study and see the threat of mega corruption for what it really is; to redefine national security imperatives and give to this cancer the “honoured” place it deserves in these imperatives; and to openly work with the Chief Justice towards crushing the head of this poisonous snake, so that Pakistan gets a new lease of life. And for these measures to have any credibility, let him begin SIMULTANEOUSLY with the generals who’ve received just a tepid slap on their wrists for bringing dishonor to every man in uniform, and a taint which no amount of dry cleaning can restore to purity.

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Zardari’s & Nawaz Sharif’s Corruption highlighted in Raymond Baker’s book on Dirty Money

Zardari’s & Nawaz Sharif’s Corruption highlighted in Raymond Baker’s book on Dirty Money

Raymond Baker in his book Capitalism’s Achilles Heel: Dirty Money and How to Renew the Free-Market System tried to understand the dynamics of how dirty money works, in his book he elaborately covers the Corruption in Pakistan and takes a swing at both Benazir Bhutto & Nawaz Sharif to say [Credit @Aleem_Ashraf]
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: 
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.
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.  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 mills controlled 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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