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21 - 27 Apr , 2012
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VIEWPOINTAli Musa Gilani's Case:
Unmistakable 'Exhibits'

by TARIQ BUTT

At the end of the day, it may turn out that young Syed Ali Musa Gilani is not guilty in the Rs7 billion ephedrine import scandal, but nobody, not even key members of the government, readily accept his innocence straightaway due to a multitude of corruption scams of the regime that his father, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, heads, and the direct involvement of his cronies and buddies in those scams. Even if junior Gilani proves his innocence (it is well neigh impossible to establish the white collar crime in this part of the world), the perception that the government is thoroughly corrupt Prime Ministerand he pocketed his own share of the cake will stick, and rightly so.
The Chief Executive and his henchmen would be crazy to shunt out the top Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) officials if Ali Musa had no skeletons in his cupboard to hide. The way the government reacted and took different steps to rock the investigation unmistakably exhibited that young Gilani's hands are soiled. Although the case was being probed by the ANF for the past few months, it gained the spotlight only when the ANF made a request in the Supreme Court to withdraw it. This fueled suspicions that big guns are involved in the fraud, and this is what Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry observed.
The credit for exposing the alleged involvement of Ali Musa, triggering an in-depth investigation that it deserves, goes to the chief judge, who, while heading a bench, turned down the ANF plea to take back the case, observing that some influential persons appeared to be involved in it. Rather, he put some lead in the knees of ANF Regional Director Brig. Fahim Khan, who had appeared before it to kill the case. He told him that one gets the chance to stand up and resist pressure of the mighty only once in life that the officer had at hand, and it should be availed. "What maximum punishment you will receive – expatriation to the Pakistan Army," the top judge remarked to him. The brigadier became buoyed up and instantly announced before the bench that he was not taking back the case. This is how the scam started hitting headlines and came under focus of all and sundry.
The army officer then narrated the whole story to the justices by saying that he was ordered by Narcotics Control Division Secretary Zafar Abbas Luk (a favourite of the prime minister) to close the case because Ali Musa was innocent. Ironically, Luk's successor, Sohail Ahmed, had ordered the ANF to investigate the case. For this reason, he had been shifted to an insignificant ministry. As the case generated public interest and got the attention of the Supreme Court, the government became panicky and started taking desperate measures to frustrate the probe. Its actions were unstoppable. It committed one blunder after Syed Ali Musa Gilanithe other that proved that Ali Musa was certainly involved in the scam. It quickly transferred ANF chief Maj Gen Shakeel Hussain, Brig Fahim Khan and Deputy Director Abid Zulfikar to hush up and ultimately wind up the case. Putting himself up as more loyal than the king, Luk even told the ANF that it has no jurisdiction to look into cases of this nature. But after the apex court intervention, the ANF stood ground and frustrated official efforts to exclude it from the inquiry. As the plot thickened, the Supreme Court struck down the transfer orders of the ANF chief and members of the probe team and directed them to continue with the investigation till its logical conclusion. The government's plan, which has been foiled by the court, was that the ANF should be de-linked from the case, which should be handed over to a spineless organisation like the Federal Investigation Agency to which the Supreme Court has already stopped referring corruption cases for investigation because of it having become a hand maiden of the regime.
At the same time, Gilani's Principal Secretary Kushnood Akhtar Lashari summoned Brig Fahim Khan and Abid Zulfikar in his office at the Prime Minister's House and asked them to disentangle Ali Musa as his father was very upset. In his affidavit submitted to the apex court, the brigadier recounted what Lashari did to him. He wrote that the principal secretary stated in a sarcastic manner and meaningful expression that the ANF is being commanded and controlled by army officers. The investigation officer had sent notices and letters to Lashari, who is also the former health secretary, to record his statement. In response, the brigadier along with ANF's Joint Director Lt-Col Syed Touqir Abbas Zaidi and Abid Zulfiqar went to Lashari's office on March 24, 2012, and on his desire and Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr. Justiceassurance to bring real facts to light, Fahim Khan had a separate meeting with him in his office. He discussed the matter in a threatening manner because being one of the "prime abettor/associate/facilitator in the case, Lashari wanted to make full use of his present office to suppress/distort/misdirect the investigation against himself and Ali Musa." Fahim Khan further contended before the court that since then, "many prejudiced, unfair and unwarranted actions" have been taken by different state departments, confirming the practical manifestation of these threats and Lashari's "heinous/malicious design to sabotage the investigation one way or another."
However, Lashari separately dubbed as false and incorrect the contents of the affidavit. Ali Musa has his own story, told by every accused: "My family is deliberately targeted. I have not even known Tauqeer Ahmed Khan, who has posed himself as my personal secretary. The Supreme Court should have the investigations done on merit. Some entity other than the Pakistan Army is involved in fanning scandals against my father," the young boy said. However, a prudent recourse for him is to fully join the investigations being conducted by the ANF and give his side of the sorry saga. He should also counsel his illustrious father not to take illegal steps like dumping the investigators because such actions reinforce the impression that he is definitely involved.
Looking at various official actions in covering up or promoting corruption by giving top offices even to those who have been found thoroughly corrupt, the allegation against Ali Musa will stay and the young man will be unable to wish out the stigma like his brother Abdul Qadir, who is yet to justify the expensive bulletproof Lexus jeep that he had got, allegedly courtesy of the infamous Haj corruption scandal. He has not proved that he has legitimate means of income by using which he purchased the high-powered black jeep. Not only this, Raja Parvez Ashraf, commonly known as Raja Rental, who has been clearly indicted in the expansive Supreme Court ruling in which it scrapped the Rental Power Projects (RPP) for massive corruption has been re-inducted in the federal cabinet. This is a government's retort to the apex court.
By now the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) should have caught Ashraf and dozens of others, named in the RPPs verdict for having committed colossal corruption, inflicting a heavy damage to the public exchequer, but it is yet to move in a meaningful fashion. It is stupid to expect any concrete action from the NAB in this or any other big scandal. How could it be, when its own Chairman, Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari has selected the choicest residential plot, valuing Rs100 million, in a posh sector of Islamabad that he considers his right? The NAB has not moved despite clear direction by the apex court that these corrupt people should be promptly prosecuted under the law. The appointment of a tainted man, Irfan Qadir, as Attorney General of Pakistan, further displays the government's unending and relentless actions to save the skin of top men, involved in corruption scandals. He is a known hater of independent judiciary. One of the reasons is his own ouster by it for being a judge of the Lahore High Court, who was given this office by Abdul Hameed Dogar when the latter was an illegal and unconstitutional chief justice of the Supreme Court.

 
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