The evidence - Fakir S Ayazuddin - Saturday, November 06, 2010

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Pakistan is already in the midst of a downward spiral in every aspect. The cost of food items, fuel prices, electricity are all climbing out of the reach of the common man – all compounded with unemployment surrounding us. The burden is becoming unbearable, and even the upper-income brackets of the Pakistani society are feeling the pinch. The huge, bloated bureaucracy keeps helping itself with state funds that are meant for development but are diverted for personal use. Even the floods have been used to inflate bills to serve politicians.

Stories are rife of Rs5000 being charged for one deg of rice when the standard deg in Karachi is not more than Rs1500. This behaviour at a time of crisis is extremely dangerous, especially for those at the helm of affairs, as these crimes are being recorded and, when the time comes, all will come out.

Then surely it is time to put the prime minster on notice to rein in his cabinet members. Whether the PM realises it or not, on the books of the state it is the PM that shall be held responsible. On a daily basis, it is he under whose authority the state functions and who is responsible for all the actions of the state. The routing of all the paperwork is via the office of the prime minister, and the president has moved brilliantly for his prints are not visible, and he was always bound to act on the advice of the prime minister.

Years from now, evidence will only point towards the actions of the prime minister. So when Mr Gilani complains that he does not want to go to jail for any reason, he has by virtue of his office been squarely implicated. On accepting office he took responsibility with no immunity, for it is only the president that enjoys immunity. When the PM speaks on the floor of the house insisting that all his actions are taken within the full knowledge of the president, it does not absolve him of wrongdoing but involves him deeper still.

The prime minister has been known to complain that he served a long prison term and was determined to not be caught wrong-footed this time. But the dossier keeps getting bigger, and there is no covering immunity. In fact the office of the prime minister is even more vulnerable, for the sins of members of the cabinet will also be added to his dossier. As chief executive he will be held responsible.

The media is exposing cases of corruption daily and in the absence of a vigilant Supreme Court many of these cases would have gone unheard. The people are indeed grateful to the Supreme Court, for it seems to be the only organ of state that seems concerned about illegal acts and does something about them – while the rest of the country continues as if they were the norm.

The evidence is mounting and is being gathered by the watchdogs, and will surface when called forward. The latest scam in the Ministry of Religious affairs has been brought to the notice of the Supreme Court by a member of the Saudi royal family, alleging corruption on part of the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Seeing the henna-dyed-hair minister defend his ministry on the floor of the National Assembly was quite funny, but the implication for the ministry will have created a stench of corruption which the PPP government could well do without. All of this will no doubt add to the dossier of misdeeds in the evidence folder.

The PM was present in the House when the Saudi letter was read out so he will be well aware of the goings-on. How will the next government treat these aberrations, or will this government bring in a new NRO to cover misdeeds?


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