Charged Dar returns
THE investigation stopped at Ishaq Dar, thought of as the mastermind behind the things happening.
He was subpoenaed and wanted in multiple cases, agedly leading to charges of fraud, kickbacks and misuse of the exchequer’s money.
But, before the NAB court could lay its hand on Dar, he left the country on the grounds of health issues.
He nevertheless became a Senator in absentia and remained so for four years. He was sworn in as a Senator on his return to Pakistan.
It hardly brought any relief when political stalwart and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif was sent packing, when his prospect of becoming a 4th time Premier was clipped by a judicial disqualification order, and when the entire Sharif clan was pushed to the wall.
When most of the leadership, including Nawaz, Shehbaz, Maryam and Hamza, were put in jail on the charges of money laundered in offshore companies or for buying expensive flats in the heart of London’s prestigious neighbourhood.
The absence of a money trail that had gone missing from Pakistan and was purportedly stashed by the Sharifs overseas assumed monstrous proportion until Imran Khan was brought into power and became the blue-eyed boy of the Establishment.
The masses supporting Imran Khan and the PTI were not interested as much in putting the Sharifs in jail as they were in getting the money back to its rightful place the exchequer. What happened to all those cases in which the courts wanted Ishaq Dar? We don’t know.
The assumption is that he had come through some deal that exonerates him of all the crimes that he had yet to prove false or have courts prove either fake or fair.
The conclusion is that Pakistan’s judicial system has failed miserably in establishing whether the Sharif clan was rightly grilled by NAB or was it a witch-hunt to cut the family to its size and remind them where the gravity of the power lies.
In the conundrum of preserving the one-page relationship, Imran Khan started losing sight of his dream of getting Pakistan out of the clutches of mafias.
Though he repeated ad nauseam the advantages of having a robust judicial system, he had little power to undo the wrong that had set in.
His ambition to make Pakistan’s police force deliverable and responsive also withered in the hands of Imran Khan’s ever unprepared and untrained team.
The planners had a different roadmap than Imran Khan’s. His route could only take him to the throne but not to the mission a corruption-free Pakistan that he had drawn to achieve as so-called self-acclaimed political reformer.
Yes, Imran Khan deceived everyone, especially his followers. His followers were carrying this mission until 10 April, when the curtain was finally drawn to the drama that had begun with the vote of no-confidence and ended with the judiciary, the military and the legislature laying their daggers down lest Imran Khan and his party resist, any further than midnight, to leave the ring.
This ploy neither brought joy nor a sense of loss in Imran Khan or his followers. In fact, the reaction of his ouster turned the PDM’s broth sour overnight.
He was so engrossed in the power struggle that he stopped realizing how fast he was losing the marble that had him made the darling of the change seekers.
He was chasing the shadows of those who had given him the throne. Imran Khan’s only recourse, at the time of his ouster, was his religious thoughts and untainted reputation as disguised and so-called honest leader.
Though when in power, these qualities had become a burden rather than a building block for a new tenure, the overnight turnaround of thieves, absconders and launderers into political leaders and handlers turned the table to Imran Khan’s side and stood him out as the only saviour to rid the country of the corrupt mafias.
Their alleged corruption is not proved in the courts yet. Imran Khan had never approved the Sharif family’s pardon without punishment.
His serious cardinal sin was that he failed to pursue the cases as a matter of priority. That sin and his performance as a premier, especially concerning Punjab, proved one of the many straws to break the camel’s back.
Corruption had risen manifolds during Imran Khan’s reign, with Punjab taking the cake. Smuggling in Balochistan and KP carried on unabated.
Karachi remained an extortionist hub due to PPP and MQM’s malpractices. The justice for Sharifs, Ishaq Dar, Zardari and for that matter, even for the establishment is the one that gravitates them to power and not the one that identifies criminals and holds them accountable.
Ishaq Dar’s return has further eroded this faith, the faith of the country’s 230 million people in the judicial system of the country.
The entire investigating and judicial system could not prove them guilty. It means they were being victimized only.
The pit of selective justice, bigotry and unremorseful support to the corrupt elite sucks it in. Since 2018 Dar has been sixth Finance Minister in a row.
Asad Umer, Hammad Azhar, Hafeez Sheikh, Shaukat Tareen and Miftah Ismael were unsuccessful in rescuing the economy. Now as a high hope charged Dar is in the arena. Could he harbour the ship?
—The writer is editor, book ambassador political analyst and author of several books based in Islamabad.