Pakistan's NRO and Corrupt Democracies of South Asia

Indian and Pakistani democracies have a lot in common. Both systems of governance are a legacy of the British Raj; both have failed to deliver basic necessities, good governance, rule of law and speedy justice to the vast majority of their people; both have been marred by a close nexus between crime and politics; both have many criminals, including violent felons, as members of the legislature and the executive. But the big difference is in the top leadership; the Indian democracy is led by Dr. Manmohan Singh, also known as Mr. Clean; Pakistani democracy has Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, often labeled as Mr. Ten Percent, as its top leader.

The culture of rampant political corruption has come in sharp focus for Pakistanis with the recent release of the names of the beneficiaries of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), a euphemism for the 2007 US-sponsored amnesty decree by former President Musharraf. There are 34 prominent politicians, including President Asif Ali Zardari and his close associates, topping the NRO beneficiaries list of about 8000 people accused of corruption.

This is by no means a complete list of all the corrupt politicians in Pakistan; it's mainly a list of politicians and bureaucrats included in the "NRO" deal struck between President Musharraf and late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto under pressure from Washington. The PML politicians have been explicitly excluded from the pardon under the deal. For example, it does not include the Sharif brothers, who have had serious charges of crime and corruption leveled against them, as recently brought out by the affidavits of the PML leader Ishaq Dar, that implicated both of the Sharif brothers in money laundering. The NRO list is probably just the tip of a much larger iceberg threatening Pakistan's national security, current stability and future prospects.

Of the 278 current Indian MPs for whom records are obtainable, 63 have criminal backgrounds. Of those, 11 have been charged with murder and two stand accused of dacoity (banditry). Other alleged misdemeanors range from fraud to kidnapping, according to data collected by National Election Watch, the campaign group that has put together the data. Fortunately for India, none of these criminal politicians occupy the top leadership positions in New Delhi. The honest leaders at the top, leaders like Dr. Manmohan Singh, set a good example of honest, selfless public service for the rest of Indian society.

Unfortunately, the criminal justice system in South Asia is incapable of speedy resolution when the rich and powerful are accused of crimes. “The speed of the Indian judicial system means it can take 30 years to complete a case – easily long enough to live out a full political career,” Mr Himanshu Jha, of India's National Social Watch Coalition, told the Times Online recently. If the NRO were to be allowed to lapse on November 28 as expected, the politicians in Pakistan can easily avoid accountability by filing appeals after appeals in a slow-moving justice system, where it's easy to pay the lawyers and the judges to push out the trial dates, or to make deals to get the charges dismissed altogether.

Predictably, the PML party members led by Nawaz Sharif, who are waiting in the wings to grab power, are playing up the PPP corruption issue for their own benefit. At the same time, many pro-PPP advocates for democracy in Pakistan are counseling patience in the interest of "national security" and "political stability".

The fact is that these “democratic" leaders are so thoroughly corrupt that they can be bought for a fistful of dollars by any body, including the sworn enemies of Pakistan. The kind of stability that will come from these people will only encourage more crime by politicians and growing cynicism among the suffering people of Pakistan, as born out by a recent British Council survey that shows 80% of Pakistani youth are pessimistic about their future.

Rampant corruption by the top leaders is highly corrosive for the entire society. Ignoring the crimes and corruption of top leaders will neither boost national security nor political stability. In fact, it will do just the opposite, by eating away at Pakistan's guts from within. It will make Pakistan more vulnerable to complete failure and ultimate collapse without help from of any external enemies.

To pave the way for a more responsive, better governed, and modern industrialized democracy, the model that is most likely to deliver what Pakistanis need now in terms of political stability and economic opportunity is the ASEAN model, adopted by Suharto of Indonesia, Mahathir of Malaysia and Lee Kuan Yu of Singapore. These three benevolent, relatively honest and competent dictators of ASEAN, who were repressive and ruthless at times, transformed their nations from poor and backward agrarian societies to powerful, industrialized and democratic Asian tigers.

Given its large size, the Indonesian development model under Suharto should be of particular interest to Pakistanis. During Suharto’s three decades in power, Indonesia’s economy grew an average of 7 percent annually, and living standards rose substantially for the bulk of the population. Education and mass literacy programs were used to promote the national language, Bahasa Indonesia, and to unify the country’s disparate ethnic groups and scattered islands. While Suharto used unfettered dictatorial powers and his own family benefited greatly from Indonesia's crony capitalism and its rapid economic growth, the nation reaped huge benefits as well, and eventually, the significantly enlarged, educated and prosperous Indonesian middle class asserted itself and brought democracy to Indonesia after forcing Suharto out in 1998.

Here is an interesting video clip of a Pakistani minister's frank admission of the PPP involvement in bribery. Listen to Mr. Abdul Qayyum Khan Jatoi, Federal Minister for Defense Production, proclaiming that it is the “political right” of every politician to do corruption: “yaar, karrapshun pay humara haq nahiN hai, aur unn ka hai!”:



Here's a video report about the arrest of the same PPP minister Abdul Qayyum Khan Jatoi in 2008 by Islamabad Police at a Islamabad brothel called Cat Club before he was sworn in as a Federal Minister in the current cabinet:



Related Links:

Musharraf's Legacy

ASEAN Model

Challenges For Indian Democracy

Zardari Corruption Probe

Pakistan's Feudal Democracy

Blackwater Bribing in Pakistan

The Politics of NRO

ASEAN Architect Suharto Passes On

Suharto's New Order

Money Laundering Charges Against Sharifs

The NRO Beneficiaries List

Comments

Media Mentions said…
If you're interested, this is an article I found today that I believe will make a great sub-branch post, especially with your views. Without further ado, here it is: http://www.pressdisplay.com/pressdisplay/showlink.aspx?bookmarkid=BOU8URE1RR73&preview=article&linkid=d652e409-bc8e-4414-8be7-9d6bda492ff1&pdaffid=ZVFwBG5jk4Kvl9OaBJc5%2bg%3d%3d

Sincerely,
MediaMentions
ahraza said…
So the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) beneficiaries list comes out. The media is happy that those persons who enjoyed taking advantage of the NRO have light casted upon them, while the government is trying to push forward the argument of how they have respected the Supreme Court’s judgment and have publicized the list. It seems to be a win-win situation for all parties. But is it really? Calls for the resignation of ministries and portfolios have echoed from all corners. How has this zero-sum game turned into a finger-pointing-name-calling battle?

http://ahraza.wordpress.com/2009/11/25/so-what-its-just-the-nro/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an interesting assessment of Gen Kiyani by analyst-columnist Farrukh Saleem published in the News:

Yes, he is complex, complicated and calculating - all in one. Yes, he has the capacity for abstract thought, cold rationality and coarse creativity - all in one. And, yet he inhales reconstituted tobacco. Yes, he uses a filter and a cigarette holder. Yes, he never takes deep puffs and, yes, he only consumes half a cigarette at a time. I am sure he must have calculated that every cigarette he smokes shortens his life by exactly 11 minutes. And, yet he smokes. I can tell you that he didn't smoke for the first 60 minutes and then went through five half-cigarettes in the following two hours. Cigarettes say a lot about the smoker who smokes them. He knows that some of the things that he is doing are wrong, but still won't give them up. He is hooked on a primary psychoactive chemical and he knows that he can stop but he doesn't.

Hearing what I heard, I can tell you that he is a firm believer in Environmental Determinism - the theory that your environment dictates, and determines, your defense policy. In essence, 6,384 tanks in the Indian Army can't cross the Himalayas into China so they must all be Pakistan-specific. Hearing what I heard I can tell you that he won't second-guess Indian Army's intentions and would keep Pakistan Army fully able and capable to respond to India's military capacity.

I hear that an American who wears four stars and a Bronze Star with Valor V on his chest once told him that Pakistan's nukes were under threat. Hearing what I heard, I can tell you that he must have told the American who wears four stars and a Bronze star with Valor V on his chest that nukes can only be under threat if they are vulnerable; but ours are not vulnerable so they can't be under threat. Please give this bullshit to the press but don't give it to me. After all, he is an ardent golfer and 'an ardent golfer would play Mount Everest if somebody would put a flagstick on top'.

I can tell you that I came back both proud but with a painful realisation; proud knowing that our legions are being led by strategic minds and sad to have discovered the much too visible an intellectual gap between our top political brains in Islamabad and our strategic minds at work in Rawalpindi. And what does he think about our politicians? When it's breezy, hit it easy.

Could it be that the army rules not through the barrel of a gun but because of their intellectual superiority? Could it be that the army rules because our politicians have failed to institutionalise politics? Could it be that the army rules because our political parties do not transcend individual human intentions? Could it be that the army rules because it has structures, mechanisms of social order along with strategic thinking?
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a BBC report about re-opening Swiss corruption probe against Zardari:

Pakistan's anti-corruption agency is to ask Switzerland to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Zardari.

The move came after Pakistan's Supreme Court said it would jail the head of the agency if he did not take action.

Mr Zardari and his late wife, former PM Benazir Bhutto, were convicted by a Swiss court in a $15m money-laundering case in 2003. They denied the charges.

Pakistan withdrew from the Swiss case soon after Mr Zardari's Pakistan People's Party came to power in 2008.

But an amnesty protecting Mr Zardari and other top officials from prosecution was annulled by the Supreme Court in December.

Court pressure

The court has been demanding corruption cases be reopened ever since, several of them involving President Zardari.

Before taking office, he spent years in jail after being convicted on corruption charges he says were politically motivated.

His political allies face possible prosecution in Pakistan, but he is still protected by presidential immunity.

If the Swiss authorities accede to the Pakistani request, he faces being investigated for corruption while in office.

On Tuesday Pakistan's Supreme Court threatened to jail the head of the country's anti-corruption agency unless he reopens hundreds of corruption cases.

It said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman Naveed Ahsan would be in contempt of court if he did not act within 24 hours.

"In light of directions of the court on the revival of the Swiss cases, the NAB has initiated the process," Abid Zuberi, a lawyer for the agency, told the court on Wednesday.

The Swiss Justice Ministry said it had yet to receive any request from Pakistan.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt from William Dalrymple's book "Nine Lives" about Bhuttos:

Benazir was a notably inept administrator. During her first 20-month-long premiership, she failed to pass a single piece of major legislation, and during her two periods in power she did almost nothing to help the liberal causes she espoused so enthusiastically to the Western media.

Instead, it was under her watch that Pakistan’s secret service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), helped install the Taliban in Pakistan, and she did nothing to rein in the agency’s disastrous policy of training up Islamist jihadis from the country’s madrasas to do the ISI’s dirty work in Kashmir and Afghanistan. As a young correspondent covering the conflict in Kashmir in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I saw how during her premiership, Pakistan sidelined the Kashmiris’ own secular resistance movement, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, and instead gave aid and training to the brutal Islamist outfits it created and controlled, such as Lashkar-e-Toiba and Harkat ul-Mujahedin. Benazir’s administration, in other words, helped train the very assassins who are most likely to have shot her.

Benazir was, above all, a feudal landowner, whose family owned great tracts of Sindh, and with the sense of entitlement this produced. Democracy has never thrived in Pakistan in part because landowning remains the base from which politicians emerge. In this sense, Pakistani democracy in Pakistan is really a form of “elective feudalism”: the Bhuttos’ feudal friends and allies were nominated for seats by Benazir, and these landowners made sure their peasants voted them in.

Behind Pakistan’s swings between military government and democracy lies a surprising continuity of elitist interests: to some extent, Pakistan’s industrial, military and landowning classes are all interrelated, and they look after each other. They do not, however, do much to look after the poor. The government education system barely functions in Pakistan, and for the poor, justice is almost impossible to come by. According to the political scientist Ayesha Siddiqa, “Both the military and the political parties have all failed to create an environment where the poor can get what they need from the state. So the poor have begun to look for alternatives. In the long term, these flaws in the system will create more room for the fundamentalists.”

Many right-wing commentators on the Islamic world tend to see political Islam as an anti-liberal and irrational form of “Islamo-fascism”. Yet much of the success of the Islamists in countries such as Pakistan comes from the Islamists’ ability to portray themselves as champions of social justice, fighting people like Benazir Bhutto from the corrupt Westernised elite that rules most of the Muslim world from Karachi to Riyadh, Ramallah and Algiers.

Benazir’s reputation for massive corruption was gold dust to these Islamic revolutionaries, just as the excesses of the Shah were to their counterparts in Iran 30 years earlier: during her government, Pakistan was declared one of the three most corrupt countries in the world, and Bhutto and her husband, Asif Zardari — widely known as “Mr 10%” — faced allegations of plundering the country; charges were filed in Pakistan, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States to investigate their various bank accounts, and they stood accused of jointly looting no less than $1.4 billion from the state.
Riaz Haq said…
Here are interesting excerpts from an analysisof how Pakistanis in Britain (70% from Mirpur in Azad Kashmir) vote in British elections:

But there are those who are angered by what they see as the tribalism of Mirpuri politics being transferred to the UK, where clans stick together and elders make decisions for the whole extended family.

"The vote is a very private and individual matter for any person," says Khwaja Sohail Bashir, 54, a British Mirpuri businessman and political activist who has recently settled back in Pakistan.

He says only voters themselves can understand the issues that affect them, and questions whether Pakistani politicians would appreciate what is happening with the British economy or the National Health Service and take that into account when trying to influence opinions.

"Every community should maintain its culture, it is what makes Britain such a beautiful society," says Mr Bashir. "But voting has got nothing to do with culture."

But others, like Rose FM's manager, disagrees. "These links cannot be broken," he says. He talks of the British government itself trying to promote connections between far-flung Mirpuri communities.

"We have had British politicians from various parties come to these very studios in Mirpur, talking about their agendas, so why shouldn't our politicians go to the UK?" he asks.

'Everybody does it'

But Mirpur's influence on this election does not stop at encouraging people to vote one way or another.

Sitting in the garden of a large villa in Mirpur, a British citizen who has been a taxi driver in Halifax in Yorkshire for more than 20 years, talks of a practice which has become widespread here.

For obvious reasons the man, in his fifties, does not want us to publish his name. He describes how people are going door to door asking Britons to blindly sign proxy forms for the upcoming elections, allowing someone else in the UK to vote on their behalf.

"They said I didn't have to fill in any details, just to sign my name at the bottom of the form," he says, smiling. "So I signed two."

He laughed as he told me he had no idea who was going to vote on his behalf, and whom they were going to vote for.

"I personally know 25 other people who did the same thing, lots of people just on this street, but everybody does it."

Many others, among the contingent of thousands of British citizens thought to be here, have admitted signing proxy forms in this way.

While proxy voting is a mechanism which does allow British citizens abroad to cast their vote, many will undoubtedly look upon this way of doing it as unethical.

Riaz Haq said…
Here's a opinion piece in the Guardian today praising Pakistan's "maturing" of democracy:

A comparison with Afghanistan illustrates the significance of Pakistan's reforms: President Hamid Karzai is trying to take control of the appointment of the electoral complaints commissioners, whose integrity was instrumental in curtailing the widespread fraud that marred his re-election last year.

In Pakistan, the recent constitutional reforms reduce the president's discretion to appoint election commissioners by giving the opposition a voice in this process.

However, the reforms go far beyond the issue of elections, restoring key features of the original constitution of 1973, adopted after the secession of East Pakistan, today's Bangladesh. The constitution foresaw a parliamentary system of government and significant competencies for the four provinces, but soon power shifted to the president, a trend that became even more marked under the periods of military rule by Muhammad Zia-Ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf.

The reform, known as the 18th amendment, moves powers from the president to the prime minister and parliament, and from the federal level to the provinces. The president can no longer dissolve parliament at will, but only in specific, narrowly defined circumstances. The provinces will be exclusively in charge of a wide range of tasks, including social legislation, family law and criminal law. In signing the amendment, President Asif Ali Zadari will lose much of his authority, though he will remain extremely influential as co-chairman of the ruling Pakistan Peoples party.
Riaz Haq said…
Recent acquittals of the accused in high-profile terror cases in Pakistan for lack of evidence are shining light on the incompetence of police investigators and prosecutors in Pakistan. Here are some excerpts from a Dawn editorial on this subject:

The recent spate of acquittals of alleged terrorists has brought into question the authorities’ capacity to investigate and try terrorism-related crimes.

Since April, at least 33 alleged terrorists have been released by anti-terrorism courts, mostly because of lack of evidence. They had been indicted and prosecuted for nine suicide attacks carried out in Islamabad and Rawalpindi in 2007 and 2008, killing more than 150 people.

The latest to be acquitted were six men charged with carrying out bomb blasts at the Islamabad district courts and Aabpara market in July 2007. Earlier on, those charged in four suicide attacks on military targets in Rawalpindi and two bomb attacks on Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel, as well as in an attack on the Kamra Aeronautical Complex in December 2007, had been acquitted. This spate of acquittals by the lower courts was preceded by the Lahore High Court’s overturning of the 2008 conviction of two men for their role in plotting an attack on the then president Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi in 2007.

Whether the acquitted were innocent and wrongfully charged, or guilty but acquitted due to lack of evidence, our failure to incapacitate terrorists is obvious. If the acquitted are guilty, it sends out an ominous sign that the state is not serious about bringing the militants to book. Enhanced security is not enough to foil attacks.

Proper investigations resulting in concrete evidence are important to locate the source of a particular terrorist attack. The ability to analyse such data can help prevent future attacks. If we want to make effective use of the criminal justice system to prevent terrorism, a more disciplined approach is needed so that the courts have the needed evidence for convictions. Only then can we hope to have a strong and effective justice system for the hundreds who fall victim to terror attacks each year.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a BBC report about Brookings finding that madrassas are not a major threat in Pakistan:

Islamic schools - or madrassas - in Pakistan are not stoking militancy or extremism, a report by a leading US think-tank has concluded.

The Brookings Institution report says that while religious schools are often cited as a cause of extremism, they "appear not to be a major risk factor".

The report says that fewer than 10% of Pakistani students attended madrassas.

It says that the real cause of militancy in the country is the poor public education system.
Urgent priority

Report co-author Rebecca Winthrop, a Brookings fellow, said that number of militant madrassas was not increasing.

She said that most Pakistani parents preferred not to send their children to school at all rather than to enrol them in madrassas.

"We do need to take the militant madrassa issue very seriously," she said at the launch of the report.

"We should really leave the question of the role of Islam in the Pakistan education system to the Pakistanis to debate. This is not something that I think is fruitful if outsiders - us here in the US - start weighing in on."

The study found that the most urgent priority was to increase the supply of schools in Pakistan, where a literacy rate of 56% is among the lowest outside of sub-Saharan Africa.

The researchers said that low enrolment rates were "a risk factor for violence" and that demand for education inside Pakistan "far exceeded the government's ability to provide it".

Furthermore, Pakistan's public school system was "highly corrupt" with teaching positions handed out in return for political favours and teachers paid regardless or whether they turned up for work or not.

"The way the education system is set up is contributing to support militancy," said Ms Winthrop.

"Historically education in Pakistan has been used as a tool by successive regimes in pursuing narrow political ends."

She said that the curriculum and teaching methods in public schools promoted the dissemination of intolerant views and did not prepare students in their search for employment.

The report said that this turn frustrated youngsters and increased the pool of militant recruits.

"The almost exclusive focus on madrassas as a security challenge - which is especially prevalent in the west - needs to be corrected," the report said.
Riaz Haq said…
There have been widespread allegations that Pakistani feudals, including many powerful politicians, deliberately flooded the poor peasants villages to protect their own crops and farms in recent monsoon rains. Here's a BBC report that says Pakistan's US ambassador is calling for an investigation.

A senior Pakistani diplomat has called for an inquiry into allegations that rich landowners diverted water into unprotected villages during the floods to save their own crops.

UN ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon said there was evidence that landowners had allowed embankments to burst.

This led to waters flowing away from their land, he said.

More than 1,600 people have died in the floods, which have affected about 17 million people.

"Over the years, one has seen with the lack of floods, those areas normally set aside for floods have come under irrigation of the powerful and rich," Mr Haroon told the BBC's HardTalk programme.

"It is suggested in some areas, those to be protected were allowed, had allowed, levies to be burst on opposite sides to take the water away. If that is happening the government should be enquiring."

At the height of the floods, it is estimated that one-fifth of the country - an area the size of Italy - was underwater.

The flood waters are beginning to drain away to the Arabian Sea but inundations continue in parts of Sindh province.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11160995
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistani legislators' average assets tripled in six years, according to a report in Daily Times today:

* PILDAT report reveals average value of MNAs’ assets was just below Rs 27 million in 2002-2003, figure increased to Rs 81 million in 2008-2009

* PPP’s Mehboobullah Jan richest MNA with total assets of Rs 3.2 billion

* PML-N’s Nuzhat Sadiq richest woman lawmaker

* Assets of Muhammad Kamran Khan grew 42 times within 1 year

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: A comparative analysis of the assets declared by members of the National Assembly (MNAs) belonging to the 12th and the 13th National Assemblies reveals that the average value of an MNA’s assets has increased threefold during the past six years (2002 to 2009).

According to a report titled ‘How Rich are Pakistani MNAs?’ released by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), the average value of an MNA’s assets in the previous National Assembly was just below Rs 27 million. However, this value rose to Rs 81 million in 2008-09, a threefold increase in six years.

The analysis also indicates that an average MNA of the current National Assembly is twice as rich compared to his/her counterpart in the previous assembly.

The findings are based on assets declared by MNAs for the years 2003 to 2006, 2007 to 2008 and 2008 to 2009 through three separate reports. The latest of this series of reports, comparing assets declared by MNAs belonging to the current National Assembly, has used data contained in the gazettes published by the Election Commission of Pakistan on October 15, 2008 and October 27, 2009.

The report puts the current average value of assets held by an MNA at Rs 80.89 million, based on the 2008-09 declarations. This figure demonstrates an increase of 9.5 percent from the 2007-08 figure of Rs 73.92 million. The average value of assets owned by non-Muslim MNAs (Rs 20.35 million), is 75 percent lower than the overall average of almost Rs 81 million.

In terms of individual wealth, the 2008-09 declarations reveal the wealthiest MNA to be Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) Mehboobullah Jan from Kohistan, with total assets of Rs 3.2 billion. He is followed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi from Rawalpindi with total assets of Rs 1.6 billion. Pakistan Muslim League-Functional’s Jahangir Khan Tareen from Rahimyar Khan has total assets worth Rs 1.095 billion, while independent MNA Saeed Ahmed Zafar from Nankana Sahib has assets worth Rs 1 billion and PML-N’s Nuzhat Sadiq has total assets worth Rs 912.81 million.

According to the previous year’s declarations, Mehboobullah Jan had assets of Rs 3.252 billion, followed by PML-N’s Nuzhat Sadiq with total assets of Rs 1.514 billion, PPP’s Chaudhry Zahid Iqbal from Punjab with assets amounting to Rs 1.248 billion, PML-Q’s Chaudhry Nazir Ahmed Jatt from Vehari with assets worth Rs 843 million and Jahangir Khan Tareen with assets amounting to Rs 716 million.

At the other end of the spectrum, MNAs with the least assets in 2008-09 were: PPP’s Saeed Iqbal Chaudhry from Punjab with approximately Rs 29 million net liabilities, followed by PPP MNA Roshan Din Junejo from Sindh, PML-N’s Sheikh Rohale Asghar, PPP’s Ghulam Farid Kathia and PML-N’s Ayaz Amir.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Times of India report on real state scandal involving Indian politicians, bureaucrats and generals:

NEW DELHI: The Mumbai-headquartered Western Naval Command (WNC) has raised serious security concerns and sought action by the navy, army and government against a highrise apartment complex in Mumbai's Colaba area, in which senior military leaders, politicians and bureaucrats own apartments. Among those allotted houses in the 31-storeyed Adarsh Housing Society are two former army chiefs, several other generals and admirals, and political leaders and senior bureaucrats.

A recent letter to the navy chief from Vice-Admiral Sanjeev Bhasin, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, WNC, and other documents with TOI reveal a conspiracy to appropriate, in the name of war widows and military veterans, a prime plot that was in the army's custody for years. In the process, the army even lied to the ministry of defence (MoD), which then misled Parliament, when a starred question regarding the ownership of the land came up in 2003.

Almost every army officer involved in misleading Parliament now owns a house in the complex. In his letter, Admiral Bhasin says that the housing society is now refusing to part with the list of its members and the Maharashtra government too does not have the details.

The building, immediately adjacent to a planned helipad and other military installations, has violated the CRZ ( coastal regulation zone) limit of a maximum height of 30 metres, and has now gone up to 100 metres, says Bhasin inhis letter dated July 5 of this year. The Western Naval Command chief has suggested that the army be asked to institute a formal inquiry to find out duplicity, if any, by serving/retired officers in reappropriation of the ecological park managed and occupied by HQ MG&G (headquarters, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa) Area since 1996. He also wants the MoD to take up the issue with the Maharashtra government and ensure that further construction is stopped and occupancy permission is not given.

The controversy fundamentally hinges around whether the plot of land belonged to the army or not and in this matter, several senior army officials were more than cooperative in declaring that it did not. Crucial documents that prove the army's possession of the land and the Maharashtra government's past commitment to give the plot to the army have gone missing from the records of the concerned army offices in Mumbai and Pune. TOI now has many of those documents. When we sent a detailed questionnaire based on these undisclosed facts to the army headquarters a few weeks ago, the only reply was, "We are looking into all aspects brought out by you."



Read more: Top generals, babus & netas in land-grab - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Top-generals-babus-netas-in-land-grab/articleshow/6805880.cms#ixzz13Np5thJI
Riaz Haq said…
I think Indian corruption is grossly under-reported. If India weren't so highly corrupt, the Indians wouldn't be poorer than the poorest of the poor sub-Saharan Africans as reported by Oxford researchers multi-dimensional poverty index report.

India's TI reports only a fraction of the massive corruption among Indian politicians, bureaucrats and judges who are no better than their counterparts in Pakistan.

Last year, Indian Ambassador Mera Shankar wrote a letter to Delhi complaining that no action had been taken by Delhi against a number of corrupt Indian officials whose names were disclosed in guilty pleas by US companies convicted under Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by US courts.
Riaz Haq said…
The latest Transparency International report says corruption has significantly increased in Pakistan during the last two years. Pakistan has slipped from 134th place in 2008, to 139th in 2009 and 143rd in 2010:

KARACHI: Pakistan's decline continue in Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) and now its Index Score is 2.3 against 2.4 in 2009, and out of 178 countries, its ranking as most corrupt country has slipped 7 ranks, from 42 in 2009 to 34 most corrupt country in 2010.

The 2010 CPI shows that nearly three quarters of the 178 countries in the index score below five, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 10 (perceived to have low levels of corruption), indicating a serious corruption problem.

Syed Adil Gilani, Chairman TI Pakistan said in last two year there have been unprecedented cases of corruption involving tens of billions of rupees in public sector organization, which under the Rule of Law, should have been taken up by the National Accountability Bureau.

He said the political will of the government to fight corruption is lacking which has resulted in the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take suo moto action against mega corruption in NICL, Pakistan Steel, Rental Power Plants.

The CPI 2010 reveals that corruption in Pakistan is increasing, while in Bangladesh it is decreasing. Bangladesh was perceived to be the most corrupt country in 2001, 2002 and 2003 and its ranking in 2010 is 39 most corrupt country.

Reduced corruption has paid dividends to Bangladesh whose annual GDP growth last year was over 5%, while Pakistan's GDP growth last year was near 2.4 %. Delay in formation of An Independent Accountability Commission by the parliament may further aggravate the situation.

Chairman TI Pakistan said that the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which has a declared policy of Zero-Tolerance for Corruption on 22 March 2009, in its order of 12th October, 2010 in NICL Case No.18 of 2010 involving six procurements is considers the Violation of Public Procurement Rules 2004 as a criminal act. It is a landmark order, treating violation of Public Procurement Rules 2004 as a federal crime and it will help reduction in Corruption.

The direct impact of increased corruption is witnessed in the rise in the prices of food commodities which according to the latest official data of Federal Bureau of Statistics, have increased up to 120 percent in last one year viz. sugar from Rs 54 to Rs 80, pulses from Rs 50 to Rs 110, eggs from Rs 35 to Rs 60, and the Foreign Direct Investment for the fiscal year 2009-2010 dropped to US $ 2.21 billion from US$ 3.71 billion in FY 2008-2009, and in July-Sept 2010 it is further dropped to US $ 387.4 million ( 68% of last year).

Foreign debt on Pakistan increased from US $ 40 Billion in 1999 to US $ 46 billion in 2008, whereas in last two years it has increased to US $ 53.5 billion.

Across the board Application of Rule of Law, Merit based appointments and easy Access to Justice is the only solution to save Pakistan from corruption, which is responsible for poverty, inflation, terrorism, illiteracy, lack of electricity and hording of essential food commodities.

In the 2010 CPI, Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore tie for first place with scores of 9.3. Unstable governments, often with a legacy of conflict, continue to dominate the bottom rungs of the CPI. Afghanistan and Myanmar share second to last place with a score of 1.4, with Somalia coming in last with a score of 1.1.
Riaz Haq said…
The Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) has claimed that it has identified corruption cases worth Rs 300 billion in different federal government departments during the last one year.

Expressing his disappointment, Chairman TIP Syed Adil Gillani said that there was no effective accountability process in Pakistan due to which corruption was on the rise. He said that the TIP referred a number of corruption cases to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), one of Pakistan's controversial departments, but it did not initiated so far a single case against the perpetrators.

"Only the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly and the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) took notice of some of these corruption cases," he said.

The report released by TIP on Tuesday indicates that Pakistan is all set to hit further lows amongst the world's most corrupt nations. The 2009 report showed Pakistan climbing five numbers from the previous 47 to become the 42nd most corrupt country in the world.

Amongst the major corruption cases, Gillani said the Rental Power Projects (RPPs) of the government, was on the top. The government awarded 14 contracts in violation of the PPRA rules which caused a loss of over US$ 2 billion. The TIP had also written to the Supreme Court on this case of massive corruption and irregularity.

The sale and procurement policy of the Pakistan steel Mills had caused a reported loss of Rs 22 billion due to corruption. This corruption case had already been taken up by the apex court.

Gilani also informed of about the alleged violation of Pubic Procurement Rules 2004 by Pakistan Railways in the tender for procurement of 150 locomotives, only US made, which might have caused a loss of at least Rs 40 billion to the national exchequer. The project, he said, is presently on hold.

The other departments involved in mega corruption cases, according to Gillani, include Pakistan's Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDCL), National Insurance Corporation Limited (NICL), PRIMACO (Pakistan Real Estate Investment and Management Company Ltd), National Highways Authority (NHA), Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO), Employees Old-age Benefit Institution (EOBI). Pakistan's Oil and Gas Development Company Limited made headlines in the recent past when Prime Minister Gillani appointed his jail mate and a convict who was not even a graduate as its managing director.

Read more: Pakistan world's 34th most corrupt nation - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Pakistan-worlds-34th-most-corrupt-nation/articleshow/6815792.cms#ixzz13Vn9ofdc
Riaz Haq said…
Here are some excerpts from an Op Ed in The Hindu on Wikileaks cables showing growing US and Israeli influence in New Delhi:

The publication and analysis of the US embassy cables accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks is ongoing, but what has been made available so far reveals a disturbing picture. The US has acquired an influential position in various spheres - strategic affairs, foreign policy and economic policies. The US has access to the bureaucracy, military, security and intelligence systems and has successfully penetrated them at various levels. The cables cover a period mainly from 2005 to 2009, the very period when the UPA government went ahead to forge the strategic alliance with the US.
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The volte face by the Manmohan Singh government in voting against Iran in the IAEA in September 2005 was one such crucial event. The cables illustrate how the US government exercised maximum pressure to achieve this turn around. The Indian government was told that unless India takes a firm stand against Iran, the US Congress would not pass the legislation to approve the nuclear deal.
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Other cables reveal how the United States succeeded in getting India to coordinate policy towards other countries in South Asia like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The close cooperation with Israel under US aegis is also spelt out.

The success achieved in getting India's foreign policy to be "congruent" to US policy is smugly stated in an embassy cable that Indian officials are ‘loathe to admit publicly that India and the US have begun coordinating foreign policies'.
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One of the cables from the US ambassador to the American defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld spells out the agenda which the Americans hope to accomplish during the visit. The Defence Framework Agreement was the first of this type to be signed by India with any country. It envisages a whole gamut of cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries. It is evident from the cables that the US government and the Pentagon had been negotiating and planning for such an agreement from the time of the NDA government.
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The cables show the growing coordination of the security establishments of the two countries reaching a high level of cooperation after the Mumbai terrorist attack. The then National Security Advisor, M K Narayanan was seen by the Americans as eager to establish a high degree of security cooperation involving agencies such as the FBI and the CIA.

The cables also provide a glimpse of how the Americans are able to penetrate the intelligence and security apparatus. Among the forty cables which were first published by the British paper, The Guardian, there are two instances of improper contacts. In the first case a member of the National Security Advisory Board meets an American embassy official and offers to provide information about Iranian contacts in India and requests for his visit to the United States to be arranged in return. In another case the US embassy reports that it is able to get access to terrorism related information directly from a police official serving in the Delhi Police, rather than going through official channels.
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The collaboration between the intelligence and security agencies of the two countries had already resulted in American penetration. Two cases of espionage had come up. During the NDA government, a RAW officer, Rabinder Singh was recruited by the CIA. When his links were uncovered, he was helped by the CIA to flee to the United States. During the UPA government a systems analyst in the National Security Council secretariat was found to have been recruited by the CIA, the contact having been established through the US-India Cyber Security Forum.


http://www.thehindu.com/news/resources/article1568273.ece
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an Associated Press report on Pakistan's assertive judiciary challenging the military and civilian leadership:

....Some believe the court’s actions are part of a necessary, if messy, rebalancing in a country that has long been dominated by the army or seen chaotic periods of rule by corrupt politicians. Others view the court as just another unaccountable institution undermining the elected government.
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The army has been the principal point of contact for the U.S. in the decade since it resuscitated ties with Pakistan to help with the Afghan war. While the army remains the strongest Pakistani institution, recent events indicate it has ceded some of that power to the Supreme Court and the country’s civilian leaders.
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The Supreme Court’s activism was on full display Monday.

The court charged Pakistan’s prime minister with contempt for refusing to reopen an old corruption case against the president. Later, it ordered two military intelligence agencies to explain why they held seven suspected militants in allegedly harsh conditions for 18 months without charges.

Some government supporters have accused the court of acting on the army’s behalf to topple the country’s civilian leaders, especially in a case probing whether the government sent a memo to Washington last year asking for help in stopping a supposed military coup.

But no evidence has surfaced to support that allegation, and the court’s moves against the military seem to conflict with the theory. The judges have also taken up a case pending for 15 years in which the army’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, is accused of funneling money to political parties to influence national elections.
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The court’s actions against the army are a significant turnaround. For much of Pakistan’s nearly 65-year history, the court has been pliant to the army’s demands and validated three coups carried out by the generals.
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The Pakistani media have largely applauded the court’s activism against the army, which has also had its power checked by a more active media and the demands of a bloody war against a domestic Taliban insurgency.
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“I think the Supreme Court is going too far,” said Pakistani political analyst Hasan-Askari Rizvi. “In the past, it was the army that would remove the civilian government, and now it’s the Supreme Court, another unelected institution trying to overwhelm elected leadership.”

Supreme Court justices are appointed by the president based on recommendations from a judicial commission working in conjunction with parliament. The judges can serve until the age of 65 and can be removed only by a judicial council.

The cases have distracted the government from dealing with pressing issues facing the country, including an ailing economy and its battle against the Pakistani Taliban.

Moeed Yusuf, an expert on Pakistan at the United States Institute of Peace, said the jockeying for power between the army, Supreme Court and civilian government was expected given the shifting political landscape and could be beneficial to the country in the long run.

“No country has managed to bypass several phases of such recalibration before they have arrived at a consensual, democratic and accountable system where institutions finally are able to synergize rather than compete endlessly,” Yusuf wrote in a column in Dawn.
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“No single group will totally dominate the system,” said Rizvi. “That will slow down decision making further in Pakistan because nobody can take full responsibility for making a decision.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/pakistans-assertive-supreme-court-signals-power-shift-in-vital-us-ally/2012/02/14/gIQAIZHODR_story.html
Riaz Haq said…
A 2010 UMich study found that misinformed people exposed to corrected facts rarely changed their minds:


It’s one of the great assumptions underlying modern democracy that an informed citizenry is preferable to an uninformed one. “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1789. This notion, carried down through the years, underlies everything from humble political pamphlets to presidential debates to the very notion of a free press. Mankind may be crooked timber, as Kant put it, uniquely susceptible to ignorance and misinformation, but it’s an article of faith that knowledge is the best remedy. If people are furnished with the facts, they will be clearer thinkers and better citizens. If they are ignorant, facts will enlighten them. If they are mistaken, facts will set them straight.

In the end, truth will out. Won’t it?

Maybe not. Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

This bodes ill for a democracy, because most voters — the people making decisions about how the country runs — aren’t blank slates. They already have beliefs, and a set of facts lodged in their minds. The problem is that sometimes the things they think they know are objectively, provably false. And in the presence of the correct information, such people react very, very differently than the merely uninformed. Instead of changing their minds to reflect the correct information, they can entrench themselves even deeper.

“The general idea is that it’s absolutely threatening to admit you’re wrong,” says political scientist Brendan Nyhan, the lead researcher on the Michigan study. The phenomenon — known as “backfire” — is “a natural defense mechanism to avoid that cognitive dissonance.”

These findings open a long-running argument about the political ignorance of American citizens to broader questions about the interplay between the nature of human intelligence and our democratic ideals. Most of us like to believe that our opinions have been formed over time by careful, rational consideration of facts and ideas, and that the decisions based on those opinions, therefore, have the ring of soundness and intelligence. In reality, we often base our opinions on our beliefs, which can have an uneasy relationship with facts. And rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions. Worst of all, they can lead us to uncritically accept bad information just because it reinforces our beliefs. This reinforcement makes us more confident we’re right, and even less likely to listen to any new information. And then we vote.

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/07/11/how_facts_backfire/
Riaz Haq said…
Here are a couple of excerpts from "Playing with Fire" by Pamela Constable:


"Sugar is critical commodity in a country (Pakistan) where people consume vast amounts of sweet tea, soft drinks, and cakes, using about 4 million metric tons of sugar a year. .....Sugar is also very profitable. Pakistan is among the top five producers of sugar cane in the world, employing more than two million seasonable laborers at harvest time, and sugar refining is the second largest agribusiness after flour milling. According to National Accountability Bureau, a majority of country'd eighty-plus sugar mills are owned by political families, including Sharifs and Bhuttos, as well as members of parliament and several military-controlled enterprises."

"In Pakistan, the sugar industry is actually a political industry in which powerful politicians on all sides are involved", said a 2009 statement from the Sugar Mills Workers Federation that described how the big millers cheat mall growers through fake middlemen, then manipulate sugar prices by pressuring the government to stimulate or discourage exports depending on how much cane has been harvested."


"Throughout the 1990s, during two periods of rule by Sharifs and two by his archrial Benazir Bhutto, the privatization process became a game of grab and run. Investing of investing in solid projects, many business groups colluded with corrupt officials to make quick profits. They borrowed huge sums (from state-owned banks) without collateral, created and dissolved ghost factories, purchased state assets at token prices, avoided paying taxes, defaulted on shaky loans, or deferred paying them indefinitely....Major defaulters and beneficiaries of loan write-offs, granted by both the Bhuttos and Sharif governments, included some of Pakistan's wealthiest business families-- Manshas, Saigols, Hashwanis, Habibs, Bhuttos and Sharifs......using the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the (Musharraf) regime (after year 2000) went to prosecute eighteen hundred cases of corruption to recover nearly $3.4 billion in assets."

https://books.google.com/books?id=Y-wU1aVyM9IC&pg=PA40&lpg=PA40&dq=pakistan+sugar+mafia+politician&source=bl&ots=W7LPxh8OQW&sig=9zTBvtFcwCSIXjs6Hxz-HdylcXg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiLvtLu-4vRAhVpqVQKHXBDCSQQ6AEISjAN#v=onepage&q=loan%20defaulters&f=false
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's Khanani group launders billions of dollars: US report. #UAE, #US, #UK, #Canada, #moneylaundering

https://www.dawn.com/news/1318333/khanani-group-launders-billions-of-dollars-us-report

In its section on Pakistan, the report notes: “The Altaf Khanani money laundering organisation (Khanani MLO) is based in Pakistan. The group, which was designated a transnational organised crime group by the United States in November 2015, facilitates illicit money movement between, among others, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), United States, UK, Canada, and Australia.”

The group “is responsible for laundering billions of dollars in organised crime proceeds annually. The Khanani MLO offers money laundering services to a diverse clientele, including Chinese, Colombian, and Mexican organised crime groups and individuals associated with designated terrorist organisations”, the report adds.

It describes Pakistan as strategically located country at the nexus of south, central and western Asia, with a coastline along the Arabian Sea. The report notes that Pakistan’s porous borders with Afghanistan, Iran and China facilitate the smuggling of narcotics and contraband to overseas markets.

“The country suffers from financial crimes associated with tax evasion, fraud, corruption, trade in counterfeit goods, contraband smuggling, narcotics trafficking, human smuggling/trafficking, terrorism and terrorist financing,” the report points out.

“There is a substantial demand for money laundering and illicit financial services due to the country’s black market economy and challenging security environment.”

The report notes that money laundering in Pakistan affects both the formal and informal financial systems. Pakistan does not have firm control of its borders, which facilitates the flow of illicit goods and monies into and out of Pakistan.

The report, however, acknowledges that most Pakistanis living abroad use legal channels for sending money home. From January to December 2016, the Pakistani diaspora remitted $19.7 billion back to Pakistan via the formal banking sector, up by 2.3 per cent from 2015.

The report notes that while it is illegal to operate a hawala without a licence in Pakistan, the practice remains prevalent because of poor ongoing supervision efforts and a lack of penalties levied against illegally operating businesses. “Unlicensed hawala/hundi operators are also common throughout the broader region and are widely used to transfer and launder illicit money through neighbouring countries,” the report adds.

Common methods for transferring illicit funds include fraudulent trade invoicing, unlicensed hundis and hawalas and bulk cash smuggling.

The report says that criminals exploit import/export firms, front businesses and the charitable sector to carry out their activities. Pakistan’s real estate sector is another common money laundering vehicle, since real estate transactions tend to be poorly documented and cash-based, it adds.

The report notes that in January 2015, Pakistan launched the National Action Plan (NAP), addressing primarily counter-terrorist financing. The government’s implementation of the NAP “has yielded mixed results, which is in part due to the lack of institutional capacity as well as political will,” the report adds.

“Unlicensed hawaladars continue to operate illegally throughout

Pakistan, particularly in Peshawar and Karachi, though under the NAP Pakistan has reportedly been pursuing illegal hawala/hundi dealers and exchange houses.”

The report says that Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency, which is responsible for investigating money laundering cases, lacks the capacity to pursue complicated financial investigations.

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