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Change

Change

Dr Farrukh Saleem

October 7, 2018

Corruption is “the abuse of public office for private gain (the World Bank’s definition)”. A couple of years ago, the World Bank estimated that public procurement in Pakistan amounted to 19.8 percent of GDP or $60 billion a year.

Lo and behold, estimates of ‘leakages’ in this $60 billion-a-year business vary from a low of 30 percent to a high of 60 percent. Lo and behold, the ‘leakages’ amount to a low of $18 billion a year to a high of $36 billion a year.

Mohammad Khalid Javed, the founding managing director of Pakistan’s Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA), said: “we do not need any borrowings from the World Bank or the IMF if we can save this money”.

Imagine: according to the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, released by the US Department of State, the practice of money laundering cost Pakistan more than $10 billion a year. Yes, $10 billion a year multiplied by 10 years would mean $100 billion.

Now let’s do some simple math: our gross external financial need this year is $26 billion while the ‘leakages’ in public procurement are potentially more than that. So, we have a potential surplus. Our external debt is $95 billion while the past 10-year money-laundering cost stands at a potential $100 billion. So, we have a potential surplus. Conclusion: Minus ‘leakages’ and minus money laundering, we are a surplus country.

The real tabdeeli (change) is: For the first time in Pakistan’s rather chequered financial history, we have a prime minister whose top priority is anti-corruption. The real tabdeeli is: For the first time in Pakistan’s rather chequered legal history, we have a chief justice whose top priority is anti-corruption. The real tabdeeli is: For the first time in Pakistan’s 71-year long history, the head of our government and the head of our Supreme Court share the same agenda.

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This is the real tabdeeli: For the first time in the Federal Investigation Agency’s rather chequered 43-year-long history, the agency is in the process of unearthing the biggest money laundering scam in the history of Pakistan. And the details of the scam are startling: the number of fake bank accounts so far unearthed amount to 77; the number of individuals named stand at 334 (including ex-president Asif Ali Zardari); and money that has been laundered potentially amounts to hundreds of billions.

This is the real tabdeeli: The modus operandi of money launderers is out in the open: political and bureaucratic actors facilitated by bankers open fake bank accounts. The two then dole out contracts worth hundreds of billions to their favourite contractors. In return, contractors deposit hundreds of billions into the fake bank accounts. A moneychanger walks in and black money is transferred to Dubai. Funds are then transferred out of Dubai to buy properties in London and elsewhere.

The big picture: The once-dreaded MQM no longer holds Karachi hostage. The PML-N failed to form a government in Punjab. The PPP leadership’s wrongdoings are out for everyone to see.

It is true that the FIA’s conviction rate is 6.6 percent. It is true that NAB lacks the capacity to prosecute white-collar criminals. It is true that powerful public-office holders are far from being convicted. It is also true that powerful money launderers have yet to be convicted. But the tabdeeli has begun.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.

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Why we must support Change : even if we don’t like Imran Khan or Dr Tahir Ul Qadri by Haider Mehdi

Why we must support Change: even if we don’t like Imran Khan or Dr Tahir Ul Qadri

 

 

by

Haider Mehdi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have always admired the analysis and commentary of many leading geo political thought leaders and subject matter specialists from within and outside Pakistan, who specialize and voice their views on Pakistan and its current crisis.

Most of them have the masterful ability to analyse and present complex issues with amazing simplicity and powerful facts and logic. 

But of recent many of these thought leaders have unfortunately failed their own usual objective lens test of presenting Pakistan’s current imbroglio. There writings and commentaries are laced with anger, bitterness and acrimony rarely seen in their writings, especially in the manner they address the two protagonists of change, IK and TUQ, or objectively speaking what these two consider as “change”.

While I am not an Insafian or a TUQ mureed and do not in any form or shape endorse any direct or indirect extra constitutional intervention by any internal and or external institution / force, but believe that this time we have to suspend judgement and our personal biases and dislikes for these two.  I personally don’t have anything against the two, but even if I did, I would also suspend judgement for the following reason.

And the reason is simple. For 67 years, our constitutional and extra constitutional inputs have only produced this current and rotten political, social, economic, religious output/environment. So if we want change we have to change the inputs to get a different, hopefully better and more positive political, social, economic, cultural and religious order.

As Alcoholics Anonymous famously say. It’s Insanity to expect different results from the same behaviors. 

Therefore, if all well-meaning Pakistanis, including these genuine pundits referred to earlier, but not the “Raqaam BarhaoNawaz Sharif Hum Thumharay Saath hay Najam Sethi types”  to expect that “THINGS” will change by continuing with the same is, in my opinion, quite frankly extremely juvenile and perhaps even suicidal.

So what are our options. Pretty much two.

 

 

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One. Sit tight, close our eyes, stick our necks in the sand, and pray that when we open them the World and Pakistan would be this heavenly paradise. And in the meanwhile as we live in Cuckooland, these goons and the terrible order, lead by NS and AZ and GOD FORBID, that royal idiot of idiots Bilawal Zardari (can’t call him a Bhutto) and Hamza Sharif supported by their courtiers who are more like Leechees sucking the life blood of this nation, lead us to destruction. 

Two. We finally stand up for our rights, after centuries and thousands of years of abject servility slavery and serfdom, and seek the establishment of a just and fair society which delivers better governance and improves the quality of life of this miserable nation. And in my 58 years this is perhaps the second time after that great and brilliant pretender Zulfi Bhutto, who also let us down so terribly, that we have in IK and TUQ, the symbols, the seeds, the possibility and fragrance of such a change.

So while IK and TUQ may have their Achilles heels and some skeletons in the closets, but they do represent the cry of the hundreds of millions of the downtrodden, once again looking for hope succour, salvation and a better today and a tomorrowfor themselves and their children.  While these two could be the Pied Pipers of Hamelin as some suggest, or the Source of our Salvation, as others hope for, the truth is…only time will tell.

But and it is a BIG BUT, bigger than all the BUTTS put together,  if we don’t make an effort and if in our personal animosities and in our pettiness, and in our prejudices, and perhaps misguided reading of the tea leaves and the stars or misguided by our own frames of intellectual references and our anger towards these two, we try and douse this fire and desire for Change, we are certain to perish or fall to such lows ….God Forbid…perhaps never to rise again.

So let us all support these forces of change and let us also be cautioned that in this desire for Change let us not open the doors to authoritarianism or military dictatorship, while getting rid of this horrible putrid old order.

And also let not the frailties and perhaps imperfections of IK and TUQ (and pretty small compared to the horrors of the Sharif’s, Zardaris, Khans,  Rehmans etc) cloud our objectivity and our judgement. 

We must make a go of it.

For in this imperfect world, we just have to make do with what we have, wherever we are, in the best way we can.

 

Why we must support Change…………….even if we don’t like Imran Khan or Dr Tahir Ul Qadri

 

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