NO Immunity for Zardari

By A Khokar   20 January 2012
In April 1999, Swiss courts caught three criminals; Asif Ali Zardari, Miss Benazir Bhutto and their partner Dr. J. Schlegelmilch, a Swiss lawyer, on laundering some 60 million of stolen and kick back money stashed in Swiss banks accounts. This alerted the Pakistani government and Pakistan put up a claim in the Swiss courts that this stolen money belongs to Pakistani peoples. The case study says that: (excerpt) ‘The Government of Pakistan claims a declaration that it is beneficially entitled to the relevant payments received into the Zardari Swiss bank accounts”, to the background to the purchase of the Rockwood Estate, and to such other assets of the Companies as are found to have derived directly or indirectly from the alleged secret commissions and/ or bribes.’[1]

For their proven crimes Zardari, Miss Bhutto and their partner were convicted for laundering the stolen money in 2003 and sentenced. Later this conviction had gone for their case appeal for reinvestigation of their cases that mean while General Pervez Musharraf granted a general amnesty by issuing a National Reconciliation order-NRO and cases against many culprits were withdrawn. Likewise, the claim of Pakistan in the Swiss court to retrieve the stolen money from Zardari, Miss Benazir Bhutto was also withdrawn. Basing on the grant of NRO; reportedly; Swiss courts also set aside the money laundering case and frozen banks accounts were released back to the Zardari and his associates.

Off late in 2009, this infamous NRO was contested in the courts and same was placed as defunct and any such amnesty or the benefits coined by its beneficiaries were ab initio withdrawn and NRO cancelled. All the cases in the courts were ordered to be re-opened. Government of Pakistan was also asked to reopen the case of its claim in Swiss court.

Ironically; the culprit of pilferage and laundering millions of dollars abroad; MR Asif Ali Zardari by now had become the president of Pakistan and the entire official machinery was made in place that Swiss courts may not be contacted to re-open the subject claim case.

Being a President; Asif Ali Zardari is adamant not to write to the Swiss courts that he enjoys an immunity of any criminal trial in the court under the constitutional privilege entrusted to the President; not withstanding that Zardari being a president may be entitled to an immunity in Criminal cases vide article 248 of Constitution but Pakistan is mere a claimant of recovery of its money in his theft which is a Civil case and sadly; President does not enjoy any immunity in Civil cases.

One wonders how the most renowned lawyer Mr. Ehtazaz Ahsan in Apex Courts is also seen insisting on Immunity of President Zardari in reopening the Swiss bank case for which the beleaguered Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is made a scapegoat. He is held accountable on contempt of court order for not writing to Swiss Court to re-open the case when subject case is not a criminal but mere a Civil case for retrieving of money which belongs to peoples of Pakistan.
Although there is hardly any chance that some money is lying in the Swiss banks to retrieve it back but one may trace it out since converted into 100 Billions accumulated assets of Asif ali Zardari in the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, the United States of America and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) as stated in ‘The International Centre for Recovery Report’ of ‘Assets knowledge Recovery Centre’ which says:

Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari

”A consummate politician, Benazir Bhutto was twice appointed Prime Minister of Pakistan (1988-1990 and 1993-1996). On both occasions she was dismissed from office for alleged corruption and misrule or bad governance. 1 Between 1998 and 2007 Bhutto lived in exile from Pakistan in Dubai and London. She returned to Pakistan in October 2007 after reaching an understanding with President Pervez Musharraf by which she was granted amnesty and all corruption charges were withdrawn. However, Benazir Bhutto political life was ended with her assassinated on December 27, 2007.

Her husband Asif Ali Zardari (now the current President of Pakistan) also played a prominent role in both administrations. He served as Minister of Investment from 1993 to 1996. During Bhutto’s terms as prime minister, Zardari is alleged to have masterminded various corruption related activities involving millions of dollars with Bhutto’s knowledge. Zardari gained the reputation of demanding a certain percent of government contracts issued to business people, thereby earning a succession of nicknames: Mr 5 Percent, Mr 10 Percent, Mr. 20 Percent, Mr 30 Percent, and Mr 100 Percent.

In total, Bhutto-Zardari accumulated assets worth over $100 million in the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, the United States of America and the British Virgin Islands (BVI). 2 Some estimates place Bhutto-Zardari loot at more than $ 1.5 billion. This sum allegedly came from illicit profits through kickbacks in every sphere of government activity, including: rice export deals, the sell-off of state land, purchase of planes for Pakistan International Airlines, sugar mills, oil and gas permits, awarding of broadcast licenses, privatization of state-owned industries and rake-offs from state welfare schemes.””

Source: http://www.assetrecovery.org/

[1] Extract from Pakistan government claim filed in Swiss courts

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Will SC really Rock the Boat; this time?

Memogate: Courtesy Friday times Lahore

It seems as Mr. Zee and Gee (President Zardari and PM Gilani) and their cohorts after having served a charge sheet by Supreme Court have finally barred their teeth and are resorting even in orchestrating some kind of wishy-washy resolution in the house. They think it may prop up their falling regime and might avail them some respite. But:

Alas; no one may now push the bitter cup or the awaiting gallows away from them which are—made ready to punish them for their contempt, loot and evil deeds.

Mr. Gee is even heard calling the gathering of the house of the ‘black crows’ that they always gather; no doubt for their personal greed and are likely to join hands to save the falling regime to safeguard their own interests too.

Strange enough the malaise and hypocrisy of Zee and Gee against SC is so glaring that this propping up resolution is being passed on the very day when Supreme Court is due to announce its final verdict against all the six charges since leveled against Zee and Gee.

It’s too late for the Heroes to stop the noose tightening around their necks?

On the other hand it is also felt necessary to point out that hopefully; this time Supreme Court will really rock the boat as so far the SC history speaks that court has shown many a weaknesses in apprehending the culprits. Mark reluctance is observed in passing the true verdict and it looked as noose around the culprits was being kept loose intentionally.

It is also pointed out that “Justice delayed is in fact justice denied” which denotes a legal maxim meaning that if legal redress is available for a party that has suffered some injury, but is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, it is effectively the same as having no redress at all. This principle is the basis for the right to a speedy trial and similar rights which are meant to expedite the legal system, because it is unfair for the injured party to have to sustain the injury with little hope for resolution.

“Justice delayed is justice denied”. This phrase is also a rallying cry who view courts as acting too slowly in resolving legal issues either because the existing system is too complex or overburdened, or because the issue or party in question lacks political favour or under the circumstances, the Court itself feels it insecure for the judges passing the verdict.

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Is Chicken coming back Home to Roost

After listening to the news that Ex-President Pervez Musharraf is retuning back home during January 2012; it looks as ‘chicken is coming back home to roost’— but is that the case?

Musharraf may be maligned for many things being a dictator but there is no denial that present Pak government was installed under US directive by Musharraf to lend Pakistan a democratic face that it was felt by the US that while dealing with Pakistan, US should be dealing with a legitimate Democratic government. So Musharraf was tasked to orchestrate a program to arrange n fix Elections and install PPP government head by Miss Benazir Bhutto. For last few years Miss Bhutto was on self-exile and was being trained and nurtured by US to come, land back home and take over from Musharraf. Musharraf had arranged NRO (National reconciliation order) to give an open amnesty to Miss Bhutto including Nawaz Sharif and their teams for their safe landing to arrive back.

But sadly Miss Bhutto was assassinated soon after her arrival for his alleged show of defiance to US but subject plan remained intact and Musharraf handed over the government to new arrived team as per plan.

Miss Bhutto was certainly an ill-visioned politician with her poor choice of timings that having agreed with US; she soon after her arrival in Pakistan started showing an open defiance to her agreed US plan, notwithstanding that US was capable enough to eliminate her; if she would be seen jeopardizing the  plan. And we saw that sooner she was seen stepping out–she got herself eliminated and then—as luck would have it; Pakistanis end up having a man like Asif Ali Zardari as their President.

Now even after a laps of some four years, down the lines, although façade of democracy is in place to show but Musharraf agreed policies and terms with US; even in his absentia on exile are being implemented in true letter and spirit. During this period, US has paid in billions to Pakistan and we can safely term the above democratic change in Pakistan, that whether there be Dictatorial or Civilian government—-this is the change that there is no—Change.

There is lot of rhetoric that we are coming across being hurled against the previous dictatorial regime but it is hard to find a single event whereby we may witness that present government or the opposition has made some different moves against the Musharraf’s agreed policies with US. Even in his absentia on his self-exile; may these be military or governmental commitments on WOT or even on the drone attacks in FATA; every single term is being implemented as in its true letter and spirit.

We may well say that—this ‘chicken is coming home to roost’ but it looks as he was arriving back only to check that all was going well as per given US plan. Leave aside the usual rhetoric in the press of his arrest etc. That seems hypocritical to keep the political arena heated and these may be simple bubbles which are appearing on surface only to burst. Reportedly there are some of the serious cases made up against him for his alleged implication in Miss Benazir Bhutto assassination as to show that he may be arrested on his arrival but I think his lawyers are smart enough to arrange a pre arrival bale for him for these over politicized cases.

Anyhow his services can be graded as commendable ( from US point of view) that he trekked some extra miles for his masters— even at the cost of his own president ship but he made it sure that he hands over the rein of government as dictated by US to newly installed stooges.

Example of Miss Bhutto’s elimination was in front him and yes he could not dare to betray his masters and he did what was told. But he is a clever commando  and knows how to wade through and survive — that is how today he is… live and kicking and waiting in the wings for a come back.

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Zardari says: No to Supreme Court Order

The Honourable Supreme Court on January 3 gave a seven-day deadline to the government for the implementation of the National Reconciliation Ordinance, which included an order to the government to write a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.
But Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) categorically refused to submit a letter to Swiss authorities as demanded by the Supreme Court. This decision was taken during a meeting of the party’s core committee held on 5 Jan 2012.

Chairing the committee meeting, President Asif Ali Zardari remarked that the Constitution provides the President with immunity in such cases. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was also present at the meeting.

President Zardari must be claiming this immunity as per Article 248 of the Constitution, which reads that: ‘No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or a Governor in any court during his term of office’. Understandably this absolute immunity from damages liability so predicated is allowed to the President to run his official duty freely and smoothly. Immunity from any kind of prosecution may only be granted as long as he acts in “good faith.” But pilfering and looting of national assets and tossing the loot or its proceeds in foreign accounts or buying foreign estates may certainly not be counted as duties done in ‘good faith’?

Determining of “good faith” would also mean that the President’s motivations would have to be examined in his each case, which may be highly intrusive for him. We need to examine the application of immunity whether it clearly falls outside the scope of the presidential duties or not. But when he is found indulging in pilferage or looting; this is certainly a conduct unbecoming of a President, not expected from a head of the country; neither it falls in the scope of his prescribed duties that he is entrusted with in the service of Pakistan as a President.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. The subject Swiss case may be against the President Zardari who is supposed to be a non-political identity and he may be claiming his immunity but here Supreme Court has given the orders to the government which is to be executed by the Prime Minister as Executive of the country. Should PM also say No to the Supreme Court order? Where does he stands and what plea he in his personal capacity would be taking?

There is history in making. So let’s see what punitive action is prescribed by the Honourable Supreme Court against the defaulters and how many heads would be seen rolling?

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Husain Haqqani interview: ‘If I leave my house, I fear I will be killed’

By; Dean Nelson south Asia Editor Daily Telegraph London
04 Jan 2012
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, he said he has been branded a ‘traitor’ and a ‘Washington lackey’ by ‘powerful quarters’ – a reference to the country’s powerful ISI intelligence agency –and that he now fears he will be murdered like his friend, the late governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, who was shot dead by one of his own security guards last year after being branded a ‘blasphemer.’

Mr Haqqani was forced to resign last year after a Pakistani-American businessman claimed he had asked him to pass on a memo to the American government calling for their help to oust Islamabad’s military leadership.

The businessman, Mansoor Ijaz, said the memo contained an offer, backed by President Asif Zardari, that if Washington helped to oust the current military leadership, a new ‘national security’ team would disband the Army unit which collaborates with the Taliban and other anti-Western militant groups.

He was recalled from Washington and now faces a Supreme Court commission inquiry amid accusations that he betrayed his country by colluding with the United States to compromise its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Both President Zardari and Mr Haqqani have denied any involvement in the ‘memogate’ controversy and Mr Haqqani has vowed to challenge the allegations in evidence to the commission.

He told The Daily Telegraph the allegations against him are false and part of a “psychological war” against the government of President Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani by “certain powerful quarters.”

Analysts said the row is part of a feud between the country’s elected political leadership and a military establishment determined to pursue the matter, regardless of how deep it plunges the country into further crisis. Western diplomats fear it could eventually bring down President Zardari’s elected government.

On Tuesday Mr Haqqani said both the president and prime minister were standing behind him and were determined to stay and challenge the allegations. He was speaking after his lawyer, Pakistan’s top human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir, revealed he had taken refuge in the prime minister’s residence for fear that the ISI intelligence agency would force him to make a false statement on the affair.

He told The Daily Telegraph he had only left the prime minister’s residence on three occasions, each under heavy security escort.

“I’m a guest of the prime minister with whom I have had a long-standing political association. There are clear security concerns given the hysteria generated against me. Staying at the prime minister’s house is the safest option.

“My good friend Salman Taseer was killed by a security guard because he heard in the media that the governor had blasphemed. I’m being called a traitor and an American lackey in the media with the clear encouragement of certain powerful quarters even though I’ve not been charged legally with anything,” he said.

He had left the prime minister’s home to go to “the Supreme Court once to meet my lawyer with very heavy security, and one day to the dentist, when I had a toothache, and to the Abbotabad Commission (into the American raid which killed Osama bin Laden), with massive security.
“If required I will appear before the inquiry commission with the necessary security. It is not what I would like to do. I’d like to be able to go to a restaurant or visit my family,” he added.
Friends of Mr Haqqani said he has been alarmed by repeated suggestions that “his noose is tied” or that he may turn “approver” and give evidence implicating President Zardari in the affair in exchange for immunity.

They said none of the evidence against him – mainly BlackBerry message exchanges with Mansoor Ijaz – prove authorship or knowledge of the alleged memo to oust Pakistan’s military leadership.

“The president and prime minister are firmly standing behind me and the government is not going anywhere. This is psychological warfare against the government,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poverty is Blessing: Some times

 

Pakistan and India may be known for  poverty stricken masses deprived of their basic civic amentias and equal job opportunities but owing to the current economic disasters and recession engulfing the West; the state of affairs of the masses out there is also not very different especially in US; the land we knew famous for its freedom and equal opportunities to excel.

The recession has forced many factories and other institutions to close their businesses and most of the people find themselves redundant. The closure of places from where the commoners used to earn their living has pushed them down and out of their houses that they are no more able to pay their rents or mortgages. They find themselves homeless and compelled to live on the road sides in the open–high and dry.

There are more than five times as many vacant homes in the U.S. as there are homeless people, according to Amnesty International USA. Since 2007, banks have shuttered about 8 million American houses, almost doubling the previous number, while 3.5 million homeless shiver in the cold. Experts expect 8 million to 10 million more foreclosures in the years ahead. Foreclosure is when banks repossess the properties for non-payment that people gone out of job or with little income cannot keep up paying their prescribe mortgages to the banks.

In the last few days, the U.S. government census figures have revealed that 1 in 2 Americans have fallen into poverty or are struggling to live on low incomes. And it is claimed that the financial hardships faced by their neighbours, colleagues, and others in their communities will be all the more acutely felt over the current holiday season.

Along with poverty and low incomes, the foreclosure rate has created its own crisis situation as the number of families removed from their homes has skyrocketed.

Since 2007, banks have foreclosed around eight million homes. It is estimated that another eight to ten million homes will be foreclosed before the financial crisis is over. This approach to resolving one part of the financial crisis means many, many families are living without adequate and secure housing. In addition, approximately 3.5 million people in the U.S. are homeless; many of them veterans (retired Military men and women). It is worth noting that, at the same time, there are 18.5 million vacant homes in the country.

Housing is a basic human need and a fundamental human right says ‘The Human Right council’. Yet every day in the United States, banks are foreclosing on more than 10,000 mortgages and ordering evictions of individuals and families residing in foreclosed homes. The U.S. government’s steps to address the foreclosure crisis to date have been partial at best.

The depth and severity of the foreclosure crisis is a clear illustration of the urgent need for the U.S. government to put in place a system that respects, protects and fulfils human rights, including the right to housing. This includes implementing real protections to ensure that other actors, such as financial institutions, do not undermine or abuse human rights.

Back home in India and Pakistan; the creed of Mirasi is known for their pangs of poverty and joblessness;. In recent floods in Pakistan when most of the villages and lands were found submerged under water; so were the houses of the feudal lords and their villas and entire houses with their house hold and live stock were seen swept away in the flood.

Just to save his life one Mirasi had climbed up on a tree; where he found shouted upon by one of the vadera that why he does not come and help him save his life and of his children… Mirasi very amusingly replied – Aj he tay Ghareeb hoon da sawad aya. ‘This is the day that I am enjoying the most and rejoicing that after all my poverty was a blessing for me that today I had nothing to lose’.
Alhamdo-lillah; peoples in Pakistan and India may be living under thatched roof huts and shelters or in shanty towns but most of them have got houses built of their own with each other’s help to live within their families. Jobs may be less, poverty may be gripping but unlike in the West, at least you have got a roof above your head. This is the blessing of the joint family system and of family bonds which keep the peoples united and they live happily; even when a Mirasi has to climb up the tree for his safety during floods.
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Happy New Year

Wish you all a very Happy New Year. May this year be the year of blessings, successes and prosperity for you and your family.

Year 2011 was a year of Turmoil and Anarchy for Pakistan. 2012 demands that we trek with Utmost care and cleans our society of all parasites bringing a bad name this country and Islam.