Accountability & The End Of Feudalism In Pakistan


Farid A Malik |

Political cleansing has finally started. The dirt is being removed from the arena. It is better late than never. Finally, the process of generating inept and corrupt leadership started in October 1958 by the first usurper is coming to an end after six decades. There is a long list from the Chaudhry’s of Gujrat, Sharif’s of Lahore, Wattoo’s of Okara, Saifullah’s of KPK to point a few. Ayub Khan’s Elected Bodies Disqualification of Ordinance (EBDO) derailed politics of the country.

Vote ki izzat (respect for the ballot) is an interesting concept but coming from a GHQ launched political entity is a joke of the century. I do not think they even understand the meaning of this concept as they repeatedly contradict themselves. Addressing a recent political rally in Zafarwal Maryam Nawaz reiterated that the Prime Minister would flee to London where his children live. She forgot that her two brothers (Hussain, Hassan), sister, cousins and their spouses also reside there and own properties worth millions.

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As I have had the opportunity of visiting the Jati Umrah and Bani Gala estates, I can comment on both. After coming into power Mian Sharif branched off from his brothers Ittefaq Group to create his own Sharif Group. From Gowalmandi Abba Ji moved with his brothers to Model Town to build seven mansions on land allocated for industrial use. An NOC was obtained from ICI Dulux Paint factory next door to use industrial land for residential purposes. The group also built the Ittefaq Hospital nearby. In the decade of nineties, the Jati Umrah Complex was envisioned. Named after the village near Amritsar the estate is spread over 175 Acres (1,400 kanals) of agricultural land on the bank of the canal. The Sharif Medical City and Educational Complex are located on the other side. Paved roads at State expense have been built on both sides which connect to the Lahore Ring Road.

The Bani Gala property originally owned by Jemimah Khan; wife of Imran Khan is spread over 300 kanals of hilly tracks on the eastern bank of Rawal Lake. No development work has taken place there. Access roads, sewerage, water is handled by the local residents. While the Sharif family talks about Imran’s property and the income tax paid by him, they never divulge their own tax details or property value.

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It is indeed interesting how dirt has accumulated in the political arena of the country. Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, the first prime minister, promised to the nation that he would not build his own house till every Pakistani had his own dwelling. After the assassination of the PM the family had to move into a rented house. By contrast Ayub Khan the first usurper and second President allotted himself 40 kanals of prime land in the new capital where he built his personal mansion. Only after a few years of his death the property was sold by his heirs. It is now the Hashwani House near his Marriott Hotel. It did not end here. Plots, permits, loans were doled out to the selected individuals, only a few like Justice AR Cornelius returned the favours with a thank you note.

Vote Ki Izzat is a very powerful concept only if fully understood and respected. Thana, Patwarkhana, sponsored politics is anti-thesis of democracy. Together they have introduced and piled up insurmountable dirt in the political arena. We heard of the no go areas in Karachi in which the goons of MQM freely operated. Then came the contest in Lahore between Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif and Dr Yasmin Rashid, to my shock I discovered several no-go streets controlled by PML-N where State had no jurisdiction, no bills were paid by the residents who supported the party in power.

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Till 1958 most political leadership was able, honest and committed to common good as a result even the colonial bureaucracy was on its toes. The 1970 free and fair election was a major event which resulted in a brief period of Vote Ki Izzat but it was short lived. Zia the third usurper not only revived the old dirt but he also introduced his own brand as well. The 1985 party less elections opened the flood gates of corruption which have not been shut since then.

Being a non-ideological party, PML-N and its leadership entered politics to make money, which agenda they have pursued for forty years. Till Zardari took control of Bhutto’s party it remained a progressive political entity which it no longer is. In the decade of sixties some judges provided relief to honest activists. Currently this soft corner is being misused by convicted criminals thereby prolonging the accountability process. The Commission formed by the PM to investigate the excessive debt burden in the last decade is a step in the right direction as it will expose the hidden dirt in the system. Eventually no corrupt individual will survive it is only a matter of time. There are only two options; expeditious, effective defense or plea bargain. The blame game cannot be passed around. GHQ, Thana and Patwarkhana will not come to the help of the dirty fellows, the day of judgment has arrived.

Dr. Farid A. Malik is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. The article was first published in Daily Times and has been republished here with the author’s permission.