Overcoming corruption

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Rizwan Ghani
IF PM is no more sleeping with the opposition then for judiciary it is show-time for action against corruption. If Pakistan was waiting for a break on corruption, its time has come. Here’s how PM is all set to fulfil his election manifesto. The government should not waste its political and diplomatic capital on getting corrupt absconders back to Pakistan. It will be counterproductive. Any legal expert will agree that any decision short of giving clean chit will be construed as political witch-hunt. This strategy is not worth the effort and will further deepen current political divisions. Here’s the best alternate with international benefits. PM should go to Europe and hold a good press conference with the top EU leadership on money laundering. According to UN Office the size of global money laundering is $4.5tn and 98.9% of the estimated criminal proceeds in the EU are not confiscated and remain at the disposal of criminals. PM should get a joint statement with EU leaders for cooperation on recovering public’s stolen money from Europe’s financial system. He should ask for the supporting statement of the G-20 and OECD also.
From Brussels, he should land in the UK. There he should hold two press conferences. He should not repeat the demand for return of stolen money parked in UK financial system with Johnson. In meet the press with the PM, he should talk to British public directly and give this message. I am PM of Pakistan. My 75% population is living below $5 a day and our corrupt leaders are enjoying palatial life style here in London. I need your moral support so that Independent British courts can dispense justice in our case in which all we need is money trail with which our leaders have bought property in London. The second conference will be the winner. This time PM should invite Shadow Chancellor Dodds to meet the press. Dodds is pushing Tory Government to fulfil Cameron’s 2015 promise under which there was to be no place for dirty money in Britain. She is a lawyer by profession and wants Johnson to make register of UK properties market public to prevent money from corruption being parked in lavish houses. The bill was published in 2018 but is yet to be introduced to parliament even after Queen’s 2019 legislative speech. Dodds wants the bill to make houses affordable for locals so does our PM.
PM will have to execute this plan very quickly because the opposition is likely to bring back the absconders. The UK court judgment will set a standard for rest of the world. They will also try and get their money back. The Know Your Customer (KYC) Anti-money laundering (AML) laws and Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and Related Regulations can provide deciding help in such cases. Since UN and EU have umbrella legislation so Pakistan can win its case. Remember, the UK judges are all set to check PM’s access to unbridled power on breaking international treaty. The decision of Chief Justice of Pakistan to expedite accountability cases on a daily basis has set the stage for accountability. PM’s overseas visit on corruption agenda will be a clarion call for 3rd world leaders to beat corrupt politician mafia to recover stolen public funds. No one says it is going to be easy. The West is left to use the dirty money to feed their population facing extreme poverty like people of Pakistan. Four million children in UK are malnourished due to extreme poverty as corrupt politicians, business owners and banks loot and plunder tax money at the cost of public jobs, services and pensions.
Years of poor NAB performance merits judicial investigation and exemplary punishments. No one is ready to buy this narrative that NAB is an independent setup. It is product of legislation and not constitution so it cannot stay unaccountable with the political interpretation of law. The politicians would say this to protect their corruption so that judiciary does not exercise its powers of judicial review. Judiciary has been playing dumb as long as executive and NAB were bedfellows. If PM is no more sleeping with the opposition then for judiciary it is show-time for action against corruption. Among all this darkness, one Supreme Court judge has shown ray of hope. Justice Isa has set an outstanding example by declaring his assets. It is a gesture that should be acknowledged and be adopted as a norm. All government servants should disclose their assets because transparency is the road to accountability. It will win support of public and help fight corruption. Those people who oppose it should leave the government jobs. Charles I said that there is no privacy for those who are paid by tax money. By exposing Murdoch media, Pakistan can win its battle against corruption. Thatcher made a secret deal with Rupert Murdoch to support her UK privatization plan which came to be known as Thatcher the milk snatcher. She pawned 40% of British press to Murdoch in exchange for Fleet Street allegiance which successive Tory governments enjoy at cost of public. No wonder UK has been dubbed as world dirty money centre and Johnson is headed for Brexit and anything that will stop him including judiciary will be destroyed by lapdog media. All this is already obvious in Pakistan!
—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.