|By Ansar Abbasi|
|The war between crime and justice has intensified. The Supreme Court that rose in the wake of popular struggle is fearlessly busy in demolishing powerful idols, whereas those with some clout in the government are endeavouring not only to save them but also to glorify them as heroes. The government has emerged as the biggest hurdle in the way of justice. The accused, counsels and prosecution have all joined hands to weaken the judge and make him toothless. Efforts are afoot to murder justice and courts are made the butt of criticism. The only crime of the Supreme Court is that it is determined to bring to book every criminal regardless of his position, connections and his office. It beats one’s imagination that when a corrupt officer like Ahmad Riaz Sheikh is sent behind the bars, PPP leaders start issuing anti-judiciary statements. Nobody bothers to ask how a corrupt person who earned notoriety because of his corruption could be laundered of all his black deeds through the NRO. Not only that he was reinstated, and too within one year, he was given promotion from BS-18 to BS-20 and made in-charge of a very important department — the Economic Crime Wing.
To elevate such a person as head of a department meant for eradicating corruption was a hoax played on the people of Pakistan. When the government did this, all remained mum except the Jang Group of Newspapers. None raised a voice against this cruel joke, neither on the media, nor in parliament or the corridors of power. Why did the powerful bureaucrats, including the interior secretary, establishment secretary, DG FIA and other heavyweights of promotion board, prefer to remain silent and why did they not protest against wrong promotion? All knew the real background of Ahmad Riaz Sheikh but the senior officials chose to look the other way.
Now when the Supreme Court has ordered to handcuff him, restored his sentence and ordered that he be sent to jail, a hue and cry has been raised. A particular class has become nervous when the SC is asking the powerful secretaries as well as the NAB chairman as to why they were defying the apex court’s orders instead of implementing the same, and as to why they should not be sent behind the bars for the same. Now voices are being raised against such treatment against senior and big officers.
Perhaps, we do not like to come out of the pit of mental degradation where only the weak and voiceless people can be punished and there was no concept of bringing the rich, the powerful, the big bureaucrats, and rulers in the dock. Now when the winds of change have started blowing and we are witnessing the birth of a new Pakistan, this class has started screaming. Previously, one felt shame on being punished for corruption, but after restoration of his punishment by the Supreme Court, Ahmad Riaz Sheikh was seen saluting the media, making victory signs. One felt as if he had won some laurels in the court.
On his way to jail from the police station, the criminal said that he was with Asif Ali Zardari yesterday, and he was still with him today. This statement alone was sufficient for proceeding against a government official.
One is at a loss to know what was special in this official that three advisers of the Presidency — Fauzia Habib, Rukhsana Bangash, and Farahnaz — rushed to the police station to meet him.
Similar attitude is being shown in case of resignation of PPP MNA Jamshed Dasti. An influential minister of the incumbent government said the Supreme Court was unjust to Dasti. When asked whether it too was unjust that our political leaders, who should be our role models, should return to assemblies on the basis of fraud? The minister had the cheek to say that the court should not have insulted the MNA and he should not have been told either to resign or to go to jail. I was at a loss to know why the minister was oblivious of the insult the said MNA had meted out to the people. He had ignored the lie on the basis of which he had sat in the National Assembly.
The Supreme Court reprimanded the NAB on another fraud and directed it to take disciplinary action against the prosecutors who, with their silence, helped some NRO beneficiary big guns to be acquitted from accountability courts. It is a mockery of justice that a counsel appearing against the accused should be subordinate to him. When the NAB works under the government and the Law Ministry, how can it speak against the accused who are part of the government? We have been clamouring since long that as long as the NAB prosecutors are under the thumb of the government, courts will continue to be cheated and the murder of justice cannot stop.
Forget me, forget the Jang Group because we are prejudiced in the eyes of the government. Just read the Dawn of Wednesday in which it has been reported that the NAB did not oppose the appeal for acquittal of Siraj Shamsuddin, former principal secretary of PM Gilani, and the court acquitted him. Reporting about the acquittal of Agha Sirajud Din, Sindh Minister for Local Bodies who happens to be very close to President Zardari, the paper writes that NAB prosecutor submitted in the court that he had no proof against Agha Sirajuddin and this led to his acquittal. The same paper writes in the same news that Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Principal Secretary to the President Suleman Faruqui, his brother and ex Chairman Pakistan Steel Usman Farooqi and Agha Siraj Durrani are among those who were acquitted because of silence of NAB. A few days ago, in response to my question, the NAB told me that they were not going to appeal in higher courts against any of these acquittals of influential persons and those close to President Zardari. The Supreme Court ordered the NAB on Wednesday that appeals should be filed in these cases too.
This is going to cause hue and cry. However, all were mum at that time; the NAB was mum; and criminals were being acquitted. This class of people wants the return of Dogar era when all the big guns, capitalists, bureaucrats, ministers, and rulers were safe, all their crimes notwithstanding. The courts even paid them respect. But now a change has come to Pakistan and we must learn to live in a changed country.