The King’s Speech…….

The King's Speech......

By Saeed A. Malik

Many years ago, when Zia ul Haq had newly installed himself as President, he declared that it was only after he had taken over that his eyes had opened to all of Bhutto’s misdeeds. An air force officer sitting next to me sardonically observed that he had no idea generals took so long to open their eyes, when every pup in the litter which his Labrador bitch had delivered just a month ago, already had its eyes open full wide!

I could not help recalling this incident on 17 Oct when our PM, addressing his “tigers”, vented his spleen, declaring that from now on, criminals who had made away with the crown jewels of the state, shall be treated like ordinary criminals— no longer as extra-ordinary ones, the sheer scale of whose crimes ensured for them VIP treatment in jail! The perverse logic being, that treatment meted out to criminals should be in inverse proportionality to the scale of their crimes!!

It took our good-hearted PM two and a half years to arrive at this decision–and then only not on the basis of the logical absurdity of this equation, but because of anger and personal peeve. Had the PM taken this decision immediately as he was installed in the present office, much would be different. No harsh treatment of mega criminals would be necessary. All that was needed was to treat these Johnnies EXACTLY as per rules of the Jail Manual, and facilities available in our jails, without any special privileges on account of their “elite” status.

What do the “ordinary” prisoners do in jail? they sleep on the floor with a thin mattress or blanket under them; they wake up and go to the “Dhobi Ghat” for a bath with water which is at ambient temperature; then they go and grab what passes for breakfast; between all this they sit in line in the shit house, and as they ease themselves, they get the time to discuss affairs of the state. The rest of the day is spent in various chores assigned by the jail authorities, broken by a half hour break for “lunch”; towards evening they grab “dinner” and head back to their bunks.

Now imagine Nawaz Sharif, Zardari, Bilawal, and Maulana Fazal et al seated in a line, easing themselves, expelling the fine fare which their faithful carted in for their edification on the preceding day on which they have gorged. Imagine the aroma they jointly create – no worse really than the standard of their “parliamentary” debates. And then picture a mosquito diving in, and having the occasional dig in their fat fundaments, battened for years on stolen wealth!

How many days of this, before you think they will begin volunteering to give their stolen wealth back? Heck – they won’t last a week, and will all too willingly throw in the grandmothers as bonus. And all this is bloody legal. According to the law, Classes A and B cannot be given to any prisoner accused or convicted of a crime of moral turpitude. And to spare the reader the bother to find out what this means, let me spell this out for him:

“Crimes involving moral turpitude have an inherent quality of baseness, vileness, or depravity, with respect to a person’s duty to another, or to society in general. Examples include, rape, forgery, robbery, or solicitation by prostitutes.” Thus giving classes A and B in jail, to criminals like a Zardari or a Nawaz Sharif etc, is entirely illegal, and no judge or officer of the administration can do so. With this decision to treat criminals as criminals and not as VIPs, had the PM combined a liberal use of ECL, this combination would have worked wonders. Putting a person on ECL is within the powers of the executive. Every mega criminal is guilty of dual criminality. The criminality involving theft of national assets; plus the national security implications of such theft. And no judge or judgement should be allowed to override the latter. The issue of Nawaz Sharif turning into a second Altaf Hussain is a case in point, and bears my argument out.

I am glad too that in the King’s Speech the PM raised the issue of NAB. But with a chairman as richly compromised as the present one, where was the need for the PM to beseech him. You just need to pat him, and he’ll turn over. Or, in a worst case scenario, the PM could unleash Fawad Choudhary on him. For two years what has NAB accomplished beyond making references and loud noises? Where are the convictions? If you dig into these cases, you will easily find the investigators and the prosecutors who, in a combination of incompetence and venality, have allowed things to drift. Such people have to be found and punished, and NAB has to be made lean and considerably more effective without loss of time.

There is no more important institution than NAB to re-establish the much eroded rule of law, without which the much vaunted path to “Riasat e Medina” may only be harked at, but not traveled on. And if NAB has to be reformed and made effective, the process has to begin with charging and convicting Chowdhary Qamar Zaman, its Ex. Chairman who, instead of convicting mega criminals, had employed himself exclusively and most diligently, in granting them cast iron immunities! Lastly, a word about the judges, whom the PM also appealed to. A process must begin immediately to identify the long line of judges who sabotaged and buried the Hudaibya case–the most complete, open and shut case of massive corruption ever brought to trial in our legal history.

Whether they be serving or retired, these judges must be hauled up and held accountable, especially the most “principled” one among them, who hammered the final nail in the coffin of this case. Similarly all the “relief giving” judges of the Lahore High Court need to be identified and dealt with. And this process must not stop there. The Islamabad High Court too has a lot to answer for. In particular those judges need to be hauled up who, in their indecent haste to provide relief to our most valuable criminal, asked the government to provide an affidavit to the effect that if held in jail, Nawaz Sharif will not drop dead two days hence.

These judges need merely being asked where exists the precedence for a judge to put such onus on any government functionary. And if such a precedence cannot be furnished, the C.J must send this case to the Supreme Judicial Council for the offending and I may add, venal justices to be suitably tried, disrobed, and convicted. To those who are bent upon keeping a system going which brought the state to its knees, with dacoity masquerading as democracy, one can only plead: the only democracy a great majority of the despoiled want to experience as a start, is a “democracy” which will ensure the looted wealth of the state being restored to it, and those responsible for this, duly tried, convicted, and punished.

Just give us this to begin with, and each of us will find his own way to “Riasat e Medina.” And if this is not done, neither the PM, nor the “establishment” standing behind him, has any relevance to the present state of misery and wretchedness which a vast majority of the people are suffering from. If you cannot provide them bread, you could at least provide them the circus! Let them have the satisfaction of seeing their despoilers behind bars. This may not be enough to assuage the hunger in their bellies, but will do for the anger in their hearts. Doing neither will not cut it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.