Assets of Dictators and Politicians: By Dr Shahid Qureshi

None of the politicians and their subsequent governments have been able to charge and/or convict three dictators General Ayub Khan, Zia ul Haq and Pervez Musharaf for any kind of personal financial corruptions in past 40 years? The whole world is witness to the corruption by few hundred politicians in a short span. That does not mean that all the Generals were innocent.

“The personal wealth of Musharaf’s key generals is estimated at £3.5m a head. And Musharaf himself, who has a combined salary of £700 a month for his jobs as president and army chief, has acquired a real-estate portfolio worth £5m”, according to The Guardian’s report, “The plot to bring back Benazir” published on 21st July 2007. The two bed room flat of Pervez Musharaf is like a servant quarter of Zardari’s multi million £ Surry Palace (Rockwood Estate) and Nawaz Sharif’s Park Lane flats £ million a room?
On the other hand Zardari – Benzair Bhutto’s assets worth more than $ 2 billion according to (Nawaz Sharif) Saifurahman and according to (NAB) National Accountability Bureau figure was around $1.2bn [£ 830m] until 1996. The wheeling and dealing of the Zardari Inc is far more than one can imagine.
Nawaz Sharif’s family business group Ittefaq’s turn over in 1981 was Rs 337 million, but by 1987 it had soared to at least Rs 2,500 million, that is according to the group’s own accounts. Within four years Ittefaq had become one of the wealthiest private industrial groups in Pakistan. These were the accounts of profits and companies which were openly known to public. Shariff family’s declared annual profits from industrial units had increased 1500% from US$ 30 million to staggering US$ 400 million until 1995.

Chaudhry Shujat Hussain and his family also come from a humble back ground and have become billionaires in few years while sticking with General Pervez Musharaf. While looking at the above it is evident that Pakistani politicians have used the military dictators to further their carers. Those who are asking for Musharaf to be brought to be justice must also bring all the beneficiaries to the account too, who have supported military dictators?

It is time for the armed forces of Pakistan to seriously review their performance and actions of past six decades. It is quite clear that both ZA Bhutto and Nawaz Shariff were grown in the military green houses? As a politician there is no comparison of ZA Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif but both have used army generals to progress their carer? Many brilliant officers couldn’t reach at the rank of chief of army staff because Ayub Khan, Zia ul Haq and Pervez Musharaf broke the military rules and norms. By doing that they had harmed their own institution but it is the corrupt politicians who are the winners? Those who were making water pumps worth few million Rupees like Nawaz Sharif and like Zaradri running cinema entertainment business become billionaires, president and prime ministers in matter of years with the backings of the army generals. Not like Bill Gate off course!!!

Pakistan armed forces are a voluntary force any one who full fill right requirement can join the forces and an officer may become a general probably after 30 years of service and couple of dozen exams and interviews. On the other hand no such thing is required for ‘family based politicians’. A doctor’s son cannot become doctor automatically but a politician’s son/daughter can become ruler without any qualification.

According to a senior military officer, ‘when late Mian Sharif wanted to come into politics the concerned General asked for younger son Shabaz Sharif who was considered wise but he replied take ‘pohla’ (simpleton) because who will look after of our business if Shabaz get into politics’. According to a report, “In the early 1980s, after Nawaz Sharif had completed his education his father Mian Muhammad Sharif started him in the business. However, this proved a disaster. As a second option Mian Muhammad Sharif set him up with Pakistani actor Saeed Khan Rangeela to get him into acting (something which Nawaz Sharif wanted). A few days later Saeed Khan Rangeela sent his regrets to Mian Muhammad Sharif saying that his son was too dumb for acting and movie industry. Mian Muhammad Sharif then hired a cricket coaches to train his son for cricket, but his physical fitness was too low for the sport. It is rumoured that by mid-day on his first day at training Nawaz Sharif threw the bat down and left the stadium saying, “This is too tough for me.” As a last resort he paid General Ghulam Jilani Khan a considerable sum of monies to introduce Nawaz Sharif to General Zia-ul-Haq recommending him for a political post, who in turn made Nawaz Sharif the Finance Minister of Punjab. This was the day when the street thugs of Mohni Road had stepped on to becoming the national thugs of Pakistan”.

The day Nawaz Sharif had become Finance Minister; the entire family’s earnings were few million rupees and had only one refinery. From there they went on to: Ittefaq Sugar Mills was set up in 1982, Brothers steel in 1983, Brother’s Textile Mills in 1986, Brothers Sugar Mills Ltd in 1986, Ittefaq Textile units in 2-3 in 1987, Khalid Siraj Textile Mills in 1988, Ramzan Buksh Textiles in 1987, Farooq Barkat (pvt) Ltd in 1985. By the time of Zia ul Haq’s fateful plane crash, Mian Muhammad Sharif’s family was earning a net profit of US$ 3 million, up from a few million rupees. By the end of the decade their net assets were worth more than 6 billion rupees, according to their own admission, nearly US$ 350 million at the time. But this turned out to be small-change when Nawaz Sharif became the Prime Minister.

When Nawaz Sharif became prime minister, the group took a decision to secure project loans from the foreign banks and only working capital was taken from the nationalized commercial banks. The project financing from foreign banks was ostensibly secured against the foreign currency deposits, a number of which were held in benamee accounts, as repeatedly claimed by Interior Minister Naseer Ullah Babar at his press conferences. In 1992 Salman Taseer released an account of Nawaz Sharif’s corruption stating that the family had taken loans of up to 12 billion rupees, which were never paid back. On March 2, 1994, Khalid Siraj, a cousin of Nawaz Sharif claimed that the assets of the seven brothers were valued at Rs 21 billion. These were the accounts of profits and companies which were openly known to public. By 1995 family’s declared annual profits from industrial units had increased 1500% from US$ 30 million to staggering US$ 400 million.

Nawaz Sharif had no connection with the feudal elite. His family moved from Jati Umra near Amirtasr and by 1960 they owned a few modest size factories – iron foundry, ice making, and water pump factory. Nawaz Sharif was appointed as finance minister in 1983 of Punjab. In 1981 the family business group Ittefaq’s turn over was Rs 337 million, but by 1987 it had soared to at least Rs 2,500 million, that is according to the group’s own accounts. Within four years Ittefaq had become one of the wealthiest private industrial groups in Pakistan. One can imagine the miraculous growth in the assets of Billions now.

What clinched the appointment for Nawaz Sharif as PM was a word to the presidency by the then ISI chief Lt. Gen Hamid Gull, that the army believed he was a better choice. General Hamid Gull now regrets his misjudgement. Subsequently the President also dismissed him. Nawaz Sharif’s problem was power: a pathological crass compounded by crass incompetence. Nawaz Sharif also seemed to be an ungrateful person. He did not feel any obligation towards president Ghulam Ishaq Khan, nor did he ever say ‘thank you’ to General Hamid Gull’. The US loathed Hamid Gull as a ‘visionary’ general.

Investing in politics is not bad business at all in Pakistan. According to Asia Week, Rehman Malik, Benzair Bhutto’s close ally produced 200-page report of MNS’s corruption. The secret document was leaked to the London-based Observer newspaper published details of alleged corruption involving the MNS and his family.

According to the report, the Sharif family acquired properties in London through two companies, Nescoll and Nielson Enterprises, registered in the British Virgin Islands and linked to a bank account in Lahore in the name of a fictitious person: Sulman Zia. The four flats in Avendale House in Park Lane are said to be worth at least £ 750,000, which worth millions of pounds keeping in view the current housing market in London in 2009. Not a bad deal!

“I sent Ghaus Ali Shah to gave a lift home to General Musharaf and inform him that he has been deposed in absence said Nawaz`Sharif while addressing a meeting in Manchester in July 2007. How intelligent was to promote engineering corp’s, Kashmiri, General Zia and decorate him with the badges purchased from Sadar Bazar Rawalpindi, MNS must be thinking in his spare time?

On March 2, 2006, a Karachi based English paper reported that Benazir’s assets in Spain ‘unearthed’, The National Accountability Bureau claimed to have unearthed two more offshore companies and a villa in Spain owned by former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. A spokesman of the bureau said that judicial authorities of Spain had frozen assets of two Sharjah-based companies, Petroline and Tempo Global Gains, as well as their six bank accounts.

The villa worth half million euros, allegedly owned by Ms Bhutto and her three children, Bilawal Zardari, Bakhtawar Zardari and Aseefa Zardari in Playas Del Arenal, Marbella, had also been seized by the High Court of the Valencia province, the NAB claimed. The NAB official said the Petroline company was owned by Ms Bhutto, former FIA director-general Rehman Malik and Hassan Ali Jafferi and was established in 2000.

Benazir Bhutto lectured about the ‘Future of Democracy in Pakistan’ at (IISS) the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London on 20th July 2007. I asked her what you would do when the root causes of spreading of extremism are beyond the borders of Pakistan and there are more than two million afghan refugees living in Pakistan, some are also involved in terrorism according to reports. After the lecture I told her don’t go to Pakistan because your friends will get you eliminated’.
Some analysts are saying that the recent judgement by the Supreme Court of Pakistan fits in with the wishes of US envoy Richard Holbrook ‘the bruiser’? I told Aitizaz Ahassan last year in Islamabad, ‘feudals and reformers can not co exist’. But he is a strange reformer? Although former Yugoslavian leader Slobodan Milosevic, Zia ul Haq, Shah of Iran and Saddam Hussain died in friendly fire but Radovan Karadzic is alive if General Pervez Musharaf needs any advice about the post-operative and aftercare treatment of USA to its friends?

Posted on Nov 22, 10 | 1:38 am