ISLAMABAD: Top bosses of the NAB have simply vanished to respond to the media queries pertaining to the alleged extreme coercive measures that were said to have been used during the last days on Kamran Faisal that may have led to his sudden death, either by suicide or murder.
Chairman NAB Fasih Bukhari and Director General Financial Crime Wing Kausar Malik, who are alleged to have held an insulting meeting with Kamran Faisal on the night of Jan 16, are neither responding on their mobile phones nor have replied to the SMS messages sent to them.
After repeated efforts the NAB spokesman Zafar Iqbal was, however, helpful to the extent of responding to an SMS message, conveying: “Sorry for late response. In fact I’m still with some guests. As far as you question is concerned, it is totally untrue.”
The spokesman was asked if he could confirm whether Kamran Faisal was brought to Chairman’s office by Kausar Malik where the officer was alleged to have been pressurised to change his report in favour of the prime minister in the RPPs case.
A NAB official, speaking on the condition of full confidentiality, confided to The News that Kamran Faisal was under extreme duress to change his investigation report that had become the basis for the SC’s recent order to get Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and over 20 others arrested in the RPPs case.
The source said that in the evening of Jan 16 Kamran Faisal, who was an assistant director of NAB Rawalpindi, was sitting with his colleagues in the office of Rawalpindi NAB Additional Director Staff officer Shafqat, when he received a phone call from NAB Islamabad headquarter to rush there. Besides others, it is said, assistant director Shahzad was also present.
It is said that the phone call from the Bureau’s headquarter had come from Director General Financial Crime Wing Kausar Malik. After the phone call, Kamran is said to have shared with his colleagues that he was being summoned to Islamabad HQs. On this the NAB Rawalpindi additional director staff officer provided to Kamran the official vehicle Kia Registration No. 4242 to attend this urgently called meeting in Islamabad. The name of the vehicle’s driver was said to be Tariq.
When approached by The News Shafqat refused to discuss anything regarding this mysterious death. However, the source claimed that Kamran reached NAB’s headquarters and went to Kausar Malik’s office where he was told that he should change his report for the sake of the institution’s respect as on the next day (Jan 17) the Supreme Court was to hear the PM’s arrest case.
The source added that Kamran was reluctant to change his report on the wishes of his superior. Later, it is said, Kausar Malik took him to the office of Chairman NAB Fasih Bukhari who was also accompanied by one of the key prosecutors of the Bureau.
In the Chairman NAB’s office, the source said, all the three again pressed him to change his report and suggested to him that he could give the reason that for being upset he had wrongly included the name of Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in the RPPs corruption case. It is said that he was also asked to sign a blank stamp paper.
The source claimed that after his refusal he was asked to leave. Kamran later got back to Kausar Malik’s office and shared with some of his Rawalpindi colleagues what had happened to him. On Jan 17 hearing of the RPPs case, it is said that Kamran was also present in the SC.
Fasih Bukhari was contacted several times but he did not pick up his mobile. Bukhari also did not respond to The News query forwarded to him through SMS mobile message.
Kausar Malik also did not respond to The News. An SMS message sent to him on Friday evening was responded in the midnight conveying that his mobile phone battery got exhausted so “just saw” the message. He promised to coordinate with The News on Saturday but it did not happen despite repeated efforts. Kausar Malik even did not bother to respond to the questions sent to him.
These questions included: a) Will you please explain why did you call Kamran to your office on 16th evening? B) Why did you take him to the Chairman NAB? c) Did you and the chairman pressurise him to change his report?
Meanwhile an unidentified caller from an official number starting with 924 figure had called this correspondent on Friday evening claiming that late on the evening of Jan 17 Kamran was badly scolded by his senior in the Rawalpindi NAB office for refusing to change his investigation report. The caller claimed to be a young officer of the NAB. However, this fact has also not been officially confirmed.
It seems many people have found their way of releasing frustration, from this fake war, unemployment, electricity crisis, corruption and many many other issues, by damaging public and private property in the name of their love of Prophet (S.A.W). If these idiots want to show their anger on other issues then they should not use the name of Islam of Prophet (S.A.W) and if it is about Islam then this type of violence, attacks on embassies/diplomats and damage to civilian property is not taught by Islam.
Attacks on ambassadors and diplomats are not allowed. Even the ambassadors of worst enemies of Prophet (S.A.W) were not harmed by Prophet (S.A.W) or Sahaba (R.A). What sort of love of Prophet (S.A.W) that people are clearly violating his teachings in the name of the religion he preached. If people have issues with war or foreign policies then they shouldn’t do it at least in the name of religion or the love of Prophet (S.A.W). Even in the war case, Islam doesn’t allow attacks on diplomats.
It seems all this anger is not just about a rubbish movie but the movie has worked like a spark to ignite the fuel. We should not let these morons who made such films to do things which are against Islam and the teachings of Prophet (S.A.W) and that too in the name of Islam.
Recent reports of violence from all over the Muslims world and today in Pakistan on the day of Yaum e Ishq e Rasool (S.A.W) are not very helpful in spreading the right message of Islam. The way people are protesting, it seems they are more interested in looting and plundering the wealth of others than showing any love for the Prophet (S.A.W). I condemn such violence in the name of religion especially in the name of a religion which doesn’t allow such actions.
Convicted and technically disqualified PM Gilani willing to fight with SC–> Things like these invite French type revolution
PPP is back with their Jiyala and political martyr politics showing defiance against the constitution. SC convicted Gilani in contempt of court case and also applied the clause of 63-g of Pakistani Constitution.
PPP lawyers and PPP members including formerly respected lawyer,Atzaz Ahsan, is playing the role of devil’s advocate and is hell bound to protect the corruption and corrupt government of PPP. Its a shame that how these fake intellectuals first gain respect of the people by taking idealistic lines and once the time to take real stand comes they sell their souls to the devil.
Yusuf Raza Gilani is saying that no matter what decision comes, he will not be disqualified and he is willing to invoke confrontation between court and parliament.
After things like these options like French Revolution (with all due disagreement) look appropriate options. It seems government is forcing people to go for this kind of step.
May Allah help Pakistan and show people the right path to fight these tyrant and corrupt rulers.
Transparency International Pakistan says Gilani tenure has given a loss of Rs 8,500 billions in corruption so far. Still nincompoos and corrupts in government expect people to pay taxes like “responsible” citizens. Yes, people like us who pay taxes despite corruption are responsible and they are responsible for beeing ignorant.
People should go for a collective boycott of taxes and take back the country from these evil ruling elite.
by Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has lost an unbelievably high amount, more than Rs8,500 billion (Rs8.5 trillion or US$94 billion), in corruption, tax evasion and bad governance during the last four years of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s tenure, Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) claims.
The TIP advisor, Adil Gillani, told The News that the real impact of corruption in the country’s economy is far more than what is generally estimated or what is formally uncovered. He believes that Pakistan does not need even a single penny from the outside world if it effectively checks the menace of corruption and ensures good governance.
It is generally believed that the four years of the present regime under Gilani had been the worst in terms of corruption and bad governance in the country’s history. Past records of corruption were broken and Pakistan started rising in the ranks of the most corrupt nations of the world.
There has been no check on corruption as the anti-corruption institutions like the National Accountability Bureau and Federal Investigation Agency instead of checking corruption have been siding with the corrupt.
These institutions have been helping the corrupt to get off the hook by distorting and mutilating the evidence in favour of the influential accused.
Adil Gillani, the TIP representative, who too has been haunted by the government during these years for producing corruption reports, explained that the TIP pointed out corruption of Rs390 billion in 2008, Rs450 billion in 2009, Rs825 billion in 2010 and Rs1,100 billion in 2011 under the present regime. The total of these identified cases of corruption is Rs2,765 billion.
In addition to this, he explained the following:
The minister of finance of the present regime himself confirmed corruption in FBR of over Rs500 billon per year, which makes the total Rs2,000 billion; Auditor General of Pakistan pointed out Rs315 billion corruption in 2010; Public Accounts Committee recovered Rs115 billion in 30 months till 2011; circular debt is Rs190 million; KESC was given Rs55 billion illegal benefits per annum since 2008; state-owned enterprises like PSO, PIA, Pakistan Steel, Railways, SSGC, SNGC are eating away Rs150-300 billion per annum; tax to GDP ratio in 2008 was 11%, which in 2011 has reduced to 9.1% instead of being increased.
Gillani explained that Pakistan’s Gross Domestic Product is worth US$175 billion and in the light of this the drop of 1.9% in the tax GDP means annual loss of US$ 3.3 billion. This confirms that FBR is losing Rs300 million per annum, which is annual additional loss since 2008 and stands at Rs1,200 billon in four years
The TIP adviser added that India’s tax-GDP ratio is 18%, and at that rate, Pakistan’s tax evasion/corruption in FBR is 9% of $175 billion, which is US$15.5 billion per year, i.e. Rs1,400 billion per year.
It is worth mentioning here that it is not only the Transparency International but there have been different international bodies including the World Bank and world capitals, which have been showing their concern over rising trend of corruption in Pakistan under the Gilani’s regime. It was mounting corruption and extremely bad governance, which even dithered the outside world to offer cash to Pakistan during 2010 and 2011 floods, which devastated different parts of Pakistan and affected millions of people.
At home the corruption became a fashion in such a shameless manner that even the cabinet ministers started openly pointing fingers at each other and even at the highest levels including the prime minister. Some even approached the Supreme Court but despite all this, corruption remained the hallmark of the present regime, which instead of curbing it started defending it in the name of democracy.
ISLAMABAD: A five member bench of the Supreme Court has decided to refer the six options relating to the NRO implementation case to the Chief Justice for constitution of a larger bench for hearing of these options.
Announcing the verdict on NRO implementation case‚ the bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said the six options are being handed over to the Attorney General.
01: To initiate the contempt of court proceedings against the Chief Executive and the Secretary Law for not implementing the NRO verdict.
02: To declare the chief executive ineligible from the membership of the Parliament.
03: The court may form a commission to get the verdict implemented.
04: The people themselves decide on the issue and the court exhibit patience.
05: Contempt proceedings against Chairman Nab may be initiated.
06: The action may be taken against President for violating the Constitution.
The Supreme Court said in its order in NRO implementation case that the government has failed to implement the verdict.’The government is not taking interest to observe the order for the last two years. We knew that the actions we are about to take they may be unpleasant.’
‘The court has taken oath to defend the Constitution. The prime minister respected the party over the Constitution.’
‘The president in an interview to Geo News said his government would not implement one part of NRO verdict.’
As per Article 189 and 190 all institutions are bound to help the apex court, the order said.
‘Prima Facie the prime minister is not an honest man and violated his oath.’
The court recommended the case to the chief justice to form a larger bench to hear the case on January 16.
A Five-member bench of Supreme Court (SC) headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa resumed the hearing of the case pertaining to the implementation of National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) verdict today.
Recent wave of Arab spring and success of Justice and Development Party in Turkey have given many lessons to Islamic movements and political parties around the world.
These revolutions and political successes came as a result of patient and hard laboured struggles without compromising on fundamental issues.
Here in Pakistan, after wasting a decade in an un-wanted foreign war, there was a chance of smaller but ideologically focused parties to join hands against the so called war on terror.
The other fundamental issues which got spot light during that time were issues like independent judiciary,corruption, missing persons and breaking the status-quo in Pakistani politics.
Two political forces, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led by Imran Khan and Jamat e Islami led by Munawwar Hassan, can be expected to bring people together on fundamental issues related to the survival of our country. On one hand eyebrows are being raised over the inclusion of former PML-Q members in PTI and their alleged soft corner for MQM which Imran Khan has rejected.
PTI’s poltical leadership has been denying the impression that they are forming any alliance with forces of status-quo, MQM with its politics of violence or any corrupt leadership. Their point of view on the inclusion of new leadership as expressed by Imran Khan recently is that these people are joining PTI after agreeing with PTI’s agenda and knowing that their assets and credibility will be scruitinized before giving them any party tickets.
Time will tell if PTI sticks to what it claims. Now in another turn of events Jamat e Islami is getting closer with PML-N, a force well-known for being an important part of status-quo along with two other pillars including PPP and establishment.
This development is interesting as according to the news reports, Farid Paracha of Jamat e Islami said,“All the PML-Q has been renamed as PTI. If we have to work with these corrupt people, there is no need to get closer to the PTI.”
This line of argument is interesting from Jamat e Islami’s senior leader. JI is criticizing PTI for including those who are joining the party after accepting PTI’s agenda on USA war on terror, corruption,judiciary etc. Also these people are joining PTI after knowing the fact that their assets and credibility will be scruitinized before giving them party tickets.
On the other hand JI prefers to be partners with a party which is itself an important part of status-quo and has a good history of corrupt power politics (JI’s past statements are also there on this). It was evident from the JI’s recent social media campaign that the people in JI who support PML-N and JUI-F are not happy with PTI’s growing popularity and a possible conflict of interest in the form of some common vote bank or supporter base especially anti-war on terror votebank.
If we talk about fundamentals, PML-N supported operations in Sawat and tribal areas, and played its double role in judiciary movement. Also the possibility of them having a clear stance on corruption is very limited, if we look at their past tenures in federal government.
But still they are eligible for being a partner in the eyes of JI’s senior leader despite former accusations by JI on PML-N for playing the role of a friendly opposition.
So far there are no clear statements on the recent developments between PTI and JI relationship by their top most leaderships. According to news reports, they are expected to meet soon to discuss recent developments in Pakistani politics and way forward with each other.
I hope they will keep fundamental issues like war on terror, corrution, indepndent judiciary, missing persons and independent foreign policy in mind before taking any major decision. This is a make or break time for Pakistani politics as new developments are taking place in neighbouring Afghanistan and a new wave of change in Pakistan is knocking our doors.
Will PTI and JI compromise their fundamental stances over some tactical politics? Their answer may determine the future course of our country and its politics.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan loses a whopping Rs3,100 billion annually, which if secured, could change the destiny of the country and its hard-pressed people, an international banker and economist says.
Dr Shahid Hasan Siddiqui, chairman and chief executive of Research Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance, Karachi, says Pakistan loses Rs1,200 annually because of corruption and another Rs1,900 billion because of tax evasion and non-imposition of taxes by the federal and provincial governments.
He said that the country’s economy is badly hurt by corruption, tax evasion, non-imposition of taxes on the rich and powerful, large size of black economy, lack of political will to unearth assets of billions of rupees acquired from concealed income though details of these assets are available in the government record, including bank deposits, amount invested in National Saving Schemes, shares and stock exchange, real estate and vehicles, etc.
He said that details of these assets are available in the records of banks, government departments and housing authorities, etc. and if compared with the income tax returns, would generate revenue of a few hundred billion rupees in a short span of time. “This would also go a long way in the documentation of the economy,” he said adding that this would also enable the government to reduce the rate of reformed GST to five percent from the existing 16 percent and abolish all sorts of surcharges and petroleum levies for the benefit of the people.
Such a step, he said, would bring immediate relief to the common man and would help reduce inflation to a single digit. The petrol prices, he said, would come down by Rs15 per litre and this would have a positive effect on the lives of the ordinary souls.
Explaining the details of his assessments, he said that according to Transparency International and World Bank, 40 percent of the development budget of the country was misappropriated or corrupted i.e. Rs280 billion out of the total Rs700 billion development expenditure.
In addition, he said corruption and misappropriation from government procurements also cost the exchequer a few hundred billion rupees more besides Rs300 billion loss due to corruption in the public sector enterprises.
He lamented that only 1.8 million out of 180 million population pay income tax whereas there are innumerable corporate concerns that earn millions but declare income of mere Rs100,000. He said the export sector hardly contributes to the income tax revenues whereas the agriculture sector, whose share in the GDP is about Rs3,620 billion, pays hardly a few billions as tax.
Siddiqui added that stock exchange’s market capitalisation is Rs3,600 billion but has been taxed only last year and that too half-heartedly. Referring to the 2007 economic survey, he said that the official estimates disclosed that since there was no gain tax on stock exchange, so the country lost Rs112 billion in one year. “Now it has been imposed but half-heartedly to generate a couple of billion rupees only.”
He added that Pakistan’s powerful cement, sugar and textile sectors hardly pay any income tax whereas properties and bank deposits are mostly not declared and thus no income tax is given. He added that GST is paid by ordinary people but it is not fully deposited with the FBR.
Similarly, he said, professionals like engineers, doctors, lawyers and architects don’t pay income tax on most of their income. He added that the tax-to-GDP ratio in Pakistan is 9.5%, which is the lowest in the region. In the regional countries, this ratio is between 14-18 percent. “If we improve our tax ratio to 16 percent, it would mean generating additional taxes of Rs1,400 billion annually,” Siddiqui said.
He also talked of fictitious exports and imports, which he said are about 25% of the total exports and imports. Quoting official figures, he said the total rise in exports recorded by the State Bank during the period 2002 to 2007 was $7.8 billion, out of which $5.5 bn was fictitious.
Official Pakistani documents detailing how the country’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, benefited from massive, secret payments connected to the sale of French submarines to Pakistan have been seized as evidence by a Paris magistrate investigating a suspected widespread scam surrounding the deal.
The documents, revealed for the first time by Mediapart, show that the payments to Zardari and others took place on the fringes of the sale of three Agosta-class submarines by the French defence contractor the DCN) to Pakistan in the 1990s. The French sale succeeded against rival offers by Swedish and German contractors.
The sale, and the payment of bribes associated with it - officially termed as commissions – are at the core of what has become known as the ‘Karachi affair’, currently the subject of two French judicial investigations and which has rocked the French political establishment with its potential far-reaching ramifications within France.
A key allegation in the developing affair is that the cancellation of commissions paid out in the submarine deal was the motive behind a suicide bomb attack in Karachi on May 8th, 2002, that left 11 French engineers dead. They were in Pakistan to help build one of the Agosta submarines.
Increasing evidence suggests that cancellation of the commissions, ordered by former French president Jacques Chirac, was decided after it was discovered they were in part re-routed back to France to fund political activities of Chirac’s principal political rival, Edouard Balladur. For the full background to the story please click here.
The documents now in possession of Paris-based judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke were found during a French police search in June 2010 of the home of Amir Lodhi , one of the intermediaries involved in securing the Agosta contract. Lodhi held a copy of a report by a Pakistani anti-corruption service, the Ehtesab Cell.
Lodhi, 61, the brother of a former Pakistani ambassador to the United Nations, is a close friend of Zardari, who became president of Pakistan in 2008 one year after the assassination of his wife, Benazir Bhutto.
The raid on Lodhi’s home in the French capital was carried out by detectives from the French police national financial investigation division, the DNIF, (Division nationale des investigations financiers). The Ehtesab Cell documents were the object of a formal report by the DNIF, established on June 17th, 2010, and reveals that Zardari received backhanders worth 6,934,296 euros between October and December 1994.
That report is now among the evidence collected by Van Ruymbeke in his investigations launched last autumn into the financial aspect of the Agosta submarine sale, and in particular whether commissions paid abroad were re-routed to fund political activities within France.
Originally written in English, the Pakistani document was translated by the DNIF investigators and now provides the first clear details about the scale of the payments made to Zardari, amounting to several million euros, as well as the channels used, including offshore companies, bank accounts and a British tax haven.
Bank transfers to the Virgin Islands
The Agosta submarine contract was signed between the two countries on September 21st, 1994, just weeks before the first payments began.
At the time, Zardari was a minister in the Pakistani government then led by his wife, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Importantly, Zardari was the key figure for all public contracts signed with foreign countries. That position earned Zardari the unflattering nickname in his own country of “Mister 10%”.
The main document seized by French investigators is a photocopy of an original dated November 9th, 1997, concerning a request by Pakistan to Switzerland for co-operation in a judicial investigation.
The request by the Pakistani authorities to Switzerland aimed, according to the officer, “to obtain all the necessary information to pursue a criminal investigation and to try the former prime minister of Pakistan, Madame Bhutto, her husband, Monsieur Asif Ali Zardari, her mother, Begum Nusrat Bhutto and the other members of the Bhutto government, public servants and civilians implicated in the conspiracy of Madame Bhutto and/or her husband to misappropriate public funds for their own profit.”
The French police report said the document explicitly referred to the Agosta contract: “This request concerns several cases of malpractice including that of the purchase of French submarines.” According to the DNIF investigators “the chronology and the currency [of the sums paid] suggest that these payments are secret commissions paid by the DCN-I [the commercial arm of the submarine builders DCN] to Monsieur Zardari and Monsieur Lodhi for their considerable service in assuring that DCN-I got the contract”.
Huge sums are recorded at the end of 1994 alone, when a company called Marleton Business Inc. was set up through a lawyer in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands for use by Zardari. A first payment of some of 5.5 million francs (about 838,000 euros) took place in October 1994 “of which 70% goes to Monsieur Zardari (AAZ) and 30% to Monsieur Lodhi (AL),” noted the French police report.
Sarkozy’s ministry ‘approved’ bribe sums
A second transfer took place two months later, in December, for an altogether larger sum of 59.48 million francs, (about 9.06 million euros) “divided into 41.636 million [francs] for Monsieur Zardari and 17.844 million for Monsieur Lodhi”. That represented 6,934,296 euros for the current president of Pakistan, and 2,971,841 euros for his partner.
According to the French investigators, the official Pakistani documents seized in Lohdi’s Paris home also explain that “Messieurs Lodhi and Zardari received their bribes in the bank accounts of a series of offshore companies”.
The report says they are all based in the Virgin Islands and they are identified by the DNIF as: Marvil Associated Inc., Penbury Finance, Oxton Trading, Crimities Holding and Dustan Trading.
The banks involved in the payments were also recorded in the Pakistani documents, as well as the bank accounts used. “The commissions paid into the accounts, notably opened by these companies at the Pasche bank and the bank of Piguet et Cie, in Switzerland, were probably supplied by transfer from the Banque française du Commerce extérieur [French bank of Foreign Trade], account number 2700 0008358 or IV10000083580.”
Several high-profile witnesses questioned in November and December 2010 by judge Van Ruymbeke have insisted that the bribes paid in 1994 were perfectly legal and were approved by France’s then-defence minister, François Leotard, and its budget minister, now France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy.
In a statement he gave to Van Ruymbeke on November 9th, 2010, former DCN-I finance director, Gérard-Philippe Menayas, said “the total volume of the commissions was validated, contract by contract, by the ministers of the budget and defence.”
In a statement given to judge Van Ruymbeke on December 7th, 2010, Jacques Dewatre, who in 1994 was head of the French foreign intelligence service, now called the DGSE, testified that “The approval for commissions is the responsibility of services which depend upon the Minister of Defence and the Minister of the Budget.”
Mediapart has learnt Van Ruymbeke’s investigation has already established that, in order to convince the Pakistani authorities to choose the French submarines, a very structured network of corruption was established by a French state company dedicated to such activities. This was the Société française de matériels d’armement, the SOFMA, which partnered the designers and builders of the submarines, the DCN.
Van Ruymbeke has evidence that the SOFMA set aside the equivalent in francs of 51.6 million euros for bribes to be paid out in the Pakistan deal.
Influential agents working with the SOFMA used the money to gain the favours of numerous Pakistani dignitaries, in both military and political spheres. While the practice of commission payments was then legal for France, the reception of bribes was illegal in Pakistan.
Asif Ali Zardari was one of the main benefactors of the paid bribes, according to a former SOFMA managing director, Henri Guittet. He evaluated the sum paid to Zardari as being 4% of the total value of the sales contract, which amounts to a value of 33 million euros.”I believe there was one per cent paid upon the signature of the sales contract, which means at the moment when everything can get underway and when notably the deposit and [partial] down payment has been paid, and one per cent later,” he said in a formal statement. “The remaining two per cent was pro rata with the payment of the clients.”
But French judicial investigators are investigating whether the Agosta contract also involved illegal payments in France. It was in the summer of 1994, despite the fact that negotiations with Pakistan over the sale were already successfully concluded, that the government of then-prime minister Edouard Balladour imposed two Lebanese intermediaries in the contract, Ziad Takieddine and Abdulrahman El-Assir.
They were promised supplemantary commission payments worth more than 30 million euros. Both judge Van Ruymbeke and judge Marc Trévedic, who is heading investigations into the murders of the French engineers, have collected evidence suggesting that part of the supplementary commissions was destined for Balladur’s 1995 presidential election campaign.
Trévedic’s investigation has discarded the theory touted by the Pakistani authorities that the engineers were targeted by al-Qaida. He is now centring on suspicions that the bomb attack was directly or indirectly linked to the secret financial arrangements surrounding the Agosta deal. More precisely, that it was in retaliation for the non-payment of commissions promised to Pakistanis after they were all blocked by Balladur’s rival Jacques Chirac, after he won the 1995 elections.(Mediapart)
Comment : This case is a true example of corrupt alliance between feudal-corporatist politicians and corrupt people in military establishment.
By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: As public pressure in France mounts on President Nicolas Sarkozi to testify over alleged corruption in the sale of French submarines to Pakistan in the mid-90s, the then Director General Naval Intelligence (DGNI) of Pakistan Navy has offered help to Islamabad and Paris to book the corrupt and bring back the looted money to Pakistan.
Talking to The News, former DGNI Commodore Shahid Ashraf, who by his own account was tortured, harassed and put under illegal custody by the sleuths he once commanded and prematurely retired from the service “for knowing too much about the commission mafia in defence forces”, said that he was willing to cooperate with the Pakistani as well as French authorities. “I have a lot to share with them about the kickbacks in the Agosta submarine deal,” he insisted.
Ashraf, in a recent interview with this newspaper, disclosed certain details of the Agosta submarine deal and revealed while the deal had led to the removal of the then Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Mansurul Haq and the framing of a corruption reference against Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari but those mighty and powerful in the navy, who made millions of dollars from the deal, were never held accountable. The cover-up in the submarine deal, according to the former DGNI, was meant to save the skin of many in the Pakistan Navy.
To force his silence, he said, he was maliciously charged for getting Rs1.5 million from a naval officer, who was alleged to have got illegal gratification and kickbacks from foreign suppliers of the naval vessels, etc., but was ‘interestingly’ made an approver against the DGNI. On the contrary, a list of naval officers, who were alleged to have received kickbacks, were never touched. Instead, they were promoted as rear admirals.
It is pertinent to point out that a Feb 17, 1995 letter, issued by SOFMA (the French company that was involved in the Agosta deal), talked of making payment of $40,000 to each of the four naval officers whose names were mentioned in the same letter. Instead of probing the four officers, however, each one of them was later elevated as a rear admiral while the DGNI was taken to task for alleged corruption of Rs1.5 million. Interestingly, he was alleged to have received this money from a naval officer, who was getting money from foreign suppliers of the defence deals. As being the DGNI, he had even sought permission of his high command to catch an agent, who was giving bribe money to naval officers but was not allowed to do so.
Besides the then DGNI, the former naval chief Admiral Abdul Aziz Mirza has recently also given credence to the French investigative report that talked of almost $49 million kickbacks in the Agosta-submarine deal allegedly received by President Asif Ali Zardari and others, including the naval officers.
Recently, in an interview with The News, Aziz Mirza had also disclosed that the then Benazir government had urged the Pakistan Navy to go for the French subs. Mirza, while quoting the then Naval Chief Admiral Saeed Khan, had revealed that Benazir Bhutto’s Defence Minister Aftab Shabaan Mirani had clearly indicated to the Pakistan Navy’s high command the Benazir’s government’s preference for the induction of the French submarines.
Despite these clear verbal directions from the defence minister, the naval top command, according to Mirza, had again met and deliberated upon the subject and decided to recommend two options to the government namely the British Upholder and the French Agosta. The government later approved the induction of Agosta. Mirza, who led the Pakistan Navy from Oct 1999 to Oct 2002, said that the Navy first formally came to know about the kickbacks in the Agosta deal in 1998 following which it had proceeded against three officials of the ranks of captain and commodore for taking bribes and they were removed from service.
“My hunch is that besides the politicians, some top ranking naval officers even above the rank of commodore might have also received kickbacks as reflected in the recent French media reports, however, they (the top Naval officials) remained undetected for want of proof or witnesses,” Mirza was quoted to have said, claiming that even the condemned former naval chief Masoor Ul Haq was not convicted of Agosta kickbacks but for the bribes that he had pocketed in the other defence deals.
In Paris, the families of French engineers killed in a 2002 bombing attack in Karachi are pressing President Nicolas Sarkozy to testify over alleged corruption linked to the deaths. A lawyer for the families said they had lodged a demand with investigating magistrate Renaud Van Ruymbeke to question Sarkozy, former president Jacques Chirac and former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin in the case.
Van Ruymbeke is investigating parts of a complex case that has spawned allegations of illegal political funding implicating former prime minister Edouard Balladur, for whom Sarkozy served as campaign spokesman in 1995.
The families suspect that the bombing in Karachi in 2002, which killed 11 French engineers and three others, was prompted by the cancellation of commission payments on sales of French submarines with Pakistan.
French investigative news website Mediapart in June quoted Luxembourg police as saying that a company set up with Sarkozy’s approval had channeled money from arms deal commissions to fund political activities in France.Sarkozy and Balladur have repeatedly dismissed the allegations of illegal party funding and so does President Asif Ali Zardari in Pakistan.