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Toxic Jigsaw

by Newsweek Pakistan
Oli Scarff—AFP

Oli Scarff—AFP

Panama Papers and the reign of confusion.

The second installment of the Panama Papers arrived on May 9 and apparently incriminates more Pakistanis, including opposition politicians who had been demanding accountability of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family, accused of money laundering and tax evasion. The debates on cable news channels, when not in bad taste, have grown meaningless because of the legal uncertainties involved. If the laws allowing movement of capital without disclosure are still in place, how can you punish anyone? Down among the masses, there is an over-secretion of bile and resultant pessimism.

Somehow the entire jigsaw of politics seems to be missing one piece: where does the Pakistan Army stand in all this? Reference to corruption by the Army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, has been read as a signal for “political transition.” The tealeaves of an internal purge in the Army have been read as a message to the incumbent government to mend its ways—and a signal to the opposition to close ranks and storm Fortress Islamabad. The military’s Inter-Services Public Relations wing is carefully tightlipped, but retired officers who appear on TV talk shows as “experts” at times say things pointing to tension between the two Sharifs.

Blindsided by their current predicament, the mutually abrasive Pakistan Peoples Party-Muttahida Qaumi Movement combine in Sindh can’t seem to fathom what may happen to them after they have facilitated the rise to power of Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Both have been threatened politically by him in Karachi; and the PPP has actually been replaced in the Punjab by the PTI.

Predictably, the crisis precipitated by the Panama Papers will not be allowed to simmer down. Stonewalling by Prime Minister Sharif will suit Khan who will back off only when the parliamentary opposition gets tired and wants out. Because the international community is still to decide what internationally binding law to bring to ban the creation of tax havens, confusion and anger will reign. Neither the world outside nor the legislation at home is going to round up the wrongdoers retrospectively. If the new deterrent law is yet to be framed, how can the 259 Pakistanis named so far in the Panama Papers be punished? One thing is more certain, however: Pakistan will remain unstable, threatening the economy and the wellbeing of its people.

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Anarchist May 11, 2016 - 3:26 pm

‘Pakistan will remain unstable, threatening the economy and the wellbeing of its people’.

Yes because lack of accountability of rulers will guarantee a stable economy and unprecedented well-being of Pakistanis.

Sarosh Yousufi May 13, 2016 - 12:37 am

The only way out of this endless quagmire is to stop performing postmorterms of long bygone days which can never be conclusive, and will keep the country in constant political turmoil.

We are making the big mistake of looking backward while trying to move forward. It is the same case as the notorious Public Accounts Committee. They only take up cases 5-10 years old, where the relevant evidence has been lost and many of the accused are deceased or past any prosecution. It is only for mudslinging at the political opponents.

The right way forward is to forget the past, the way South Africa did by delclsring amnesty for all the criminalienable acts of the white population against the black population,. during apartheid. Nelson Mendela a truly great leader saw the wisdom of moving foward rather than becoming embroiled in opening up thousands of cases which would have taken up all the attention, energy, focus of the nation; away from building a better future.

Pakistan should foget about the past corruption. Let us forget the billions that were looted or taken away from Pakistan. Let us forget the billions that were away from the masses through corruption. It is no doubt a very big price to pay; but the price of not forgetting is thousand times greater.

But there should be a mandatory condition. Any one indicted and then convicted for corruption carried out since the inception of the Nawaz Sharif government, belong to any political party, or otherwise will have all their past cases opened and pursued till their logical end. By focusing on recent cases there will be a high level of conviction if the person is guilty, as relevant evidence will be easy to collect, and the relevant agencies would be focused and geared up to trace and track only current corruption cases.

I hope the people who matter see the wisdom of this. This ptopsal should come from Nawaz Sharif. Otherwise this endless quagmire of corruption cases will continue, and more will be added as the focus is so disprrsed; it will keep the judges tied up to no productive end, keep the public confused, give the opposition an excuse to destabilizing the incumbent government and prevent it from gocusing on its main task; foreign investment will continue to be low; and the terrorists will find their moral to be high when they see opposition trying to pull down the Govt. Many in the army will be tempted to think that civilian rule can’t work in Pakistan and they would be justified to intervene again.
One can only pray that people, the army and politicians see sense in this and are not caught up in the dogfight of the political parties that the media likes to fuel and keep going


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