Tag Archive | "NRO"

The NRO (Dis)Honor Roll

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The NRO (Dis)Honor Roll

Posted on 22 November 2009 by PakBee - Total hits: 1,765


NROMuch has been discussed about the in-famous National Reconciliatory Ordinance where 5,800 crooks were pardoned by the then President Pervaiz Mushrraf as an attempt to broker a deal for his own extended stay as the President of Pakistan. This NRO in effect opened the flood gates to allow thousands of white collar criminals and murderers to return back to Pakistan and reestablish themselves to (re)loot Pakistan yet again, and by golly in the short spam of three years they have done a brilliant job, heck third time around they went straight into business, since now these were all hardened criminals now given an executive golden key to make millions courtesy of a selfish dictator who thought his own stay in Islamabad was more precious then the country itself

The NRO was brokered in late 2007 where then we all had raised some hell about this criminal bill, but the movers and shakers of the country thought it in “their” best interest to keep this list private and extend large pardoning pleas to all the beneficiaries, be it thousands of murderers in Karachi or the ruthless Mr. 10% criminal like Asif Zardari and his team cronies, all permitted to enter back into Pakistan with a precious to-die-for get-out-of-jail-card.

Now it seems that there is an attempt to turn the tables and some movers and shakers(?) within “the establishment” think that this is now an opportune time to make this list public after almost three years. We must understand this move is definitely a serious attempt to turn up the heat in Islamabad and make all these crooks a little uncomfortable (times-up) and possibly turn the tables, making way for another set of so-called cleaner leadership to assume power, which for now mostly means the Sharif Brothers

The list is endless and features criminal leaders from every corner of Pakistan, belonging to practically all parties which occupy our assemblies and ministries. It should be a shocking that it is at the hands of proven criminals that Pakistan is expected to come out of this economic and security crisis. It is this very same leadership that has been negotiating with the Americans, helping them (or not) in their war on terror and also guiding them in their efforts into Swat and Waziristan.

The list includes leaders from PPP, ANP, MQM, PML-F and some PML-N leaders (the main Sharif brothers were omitted as they then were not allowed to sleep with the enemy) [though they would have loved to]. The list is endless that if the people of Pakistan were to outlaw each and every politician from occupying public office, I assure you most of our parliament and cabinet would be found empty.

Dawn The list has names of about 5,800 people who were facing financial irregularities and criminal cases. The list obtained by Dawn shows that 3,775 cases (mostly criminal) were against leaders and workers of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). Leaders of the Pakistan People’s Party, Pakistan Muslim League-N, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) and Awami National Party are also among the beneficiaries. Prominent leaders and bureaucrats who enjoyed immunity under the NRO include President Asif Ali Zardari, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Nusrat Bhutto, former minister Yousuf Talpur, PPP secretary general Jehangir Badr, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani, secretary general to the president Salman Farooqi, former chairman of Pakistan Steel Mills Usman Farooqi, Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad, former interior minister Aftab Sherpao, former minister Anwar Saifullah, former MNA of N-League Haji Kabir, Agha Siraj Durrani, former provincial minister Ghaniur Rehman, Habibullah Kundi, Sardar Mansoor Leghari, Mir Baz Khetran, Aslam Hayyat Qureshi, Saeed Mehdi, Javed Qureshi, Siraj Shamsuddin and former secretary to the president Rasool Baksh Raho.

Officials of the law ministry and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) were not sure whether cases against Mian Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and PML-N leader Ishaq Dar, including the Hudaibya Paper Mills case, had been settled under the NRO or were still pending in courts….

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NRO Beneficiaries List Issued

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NRO Beneficiaries List Issued

Posted on 21 November 2009 by PakBee - Total hits: 7,165

NRO beneficiaries list issuedISLAMABAD: Government of Pakistan Saturday released the list of the beneficiaries of the National Reconciliation Ordinance on the directives of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani.

State Minister for Law Afzal Sindhu in a news conference here said that a total of 8041 people including 34 politicians, bureaucrats and three ambassadors took benefit from the ordinance.

On top of the list is the name of President Asif Ali Zardari while his several close associates, both political and bureaucratic, including Rehman Malik, Salman Farooqi and his brother Usman Farooqi and Hussain Haqqani are also included, he said.

The list, which also reflects a brief introduction of the cases dropped against each name under the NRO, also includes the name of serving and former ministers, federal and provincial secretaries, ex-chief secretaries, existing or former members of the national and provincial assemblies and others, he added.

The politicians that benefited from the ordinance include Nawaz Yousaf Talpur, Ex-MNA and former minister, Nusrat Bhutto, Ex-MNA and the PPP Secretary General Jehangir Badar, Ex-minister for commerce and Presently Defense Minister Ahmad Mukhtar, Ex-MNA Malik Mushtaq Ahmed Awan, Ex-MNA Rana Nazir Ahmed, Ex-MPA Mian M Rashid, Ex-MPA Tariq Anees, Ex-MPA Mian Tariq Mehmood Dina, Ex-Minister of education Sindh Agha Sirajuddin, Former Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Sherpao and Ex-Provincial minister Ghani-ur-Rehman, he said.

Ex-senator Haji Gulsher, Ex-Provincial Minister Habibullah Khan Kundi, Ex-MNA Mir Baz Muhammad Khan Khethran, Ex-Federal Minister Anwar Saifullah Khan, Ex-Provincial Minister Sardar Mansoor Laghari, Ex-Mayor Sargodha Ch Abdul Hameed, Ex-chairman Zila Council Lahore Ch Shaukat Ali, Ex-MNA Haji Kabir are also included in the list.

Haji Nawaz Khokhar late, Altaf Hussain, Babar Ghouri, Farooq Sattar, Saleem Shahzad, Dr. Ishrat-ul-Ebad, Ch, Haji Qadeer, Malik Mushtaq Awan, Mian Muhammad Rasheed, Mian Tariq Mehmood, Shoaib Bukhari are also included in the list of Politicians who took benefit from NRO.

Amongst Government servants and others, who had benefited from NRO and got themselves cleared from NAB cases include Ex-Additional Director General FIA and Presently Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s Ambassador in the US Husain Haqqani, Principal Secretary to the President Suleman Farooqi, Ex-Advisor to Prime Minister A R Siddiqi, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to UK Wajid Shams-ul-Hassan, Ex DG Intelligence Bureau Brig Imtiaz, Ex-MD Printing Corporation of Pakistan Pir Mukarram.

The minister said that the number of politicians who benefited from the NRO is very few. Out of total 8041 persons who benefited from the law 7793 belong to Sindh province, he said.

“The spouse of the prime minister was not among the beneficiaries of NRO,” the state minister said. The minister said that three diplomats, including Hussain Haqqani, Wajid Shams-ul-Hasan and AR Siddiqui also benefited from the law.

Sindhu said that total 71 cases including 31 murders and 11 attempts to murder against MQM chief Altaf Hussain were withdrawn under the Ordinance. Among other MQM members, one case of Dr Ishratul Ibad was withdrawn, 23 of Farooq Sattar, 5 of Babar Ghauri, one of MNA Noman Sehgal, 18 of Dr Imran Farooq, 21 of Shoaib Bukhari, 7 of Wasim Akhtar, 6 of Salim Shehzad, 12 of Kanwar Khalid Younis and 16 cases of Safdar Baqiri were taken back.

Answering to a question, he said, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani was honorably acquitted by the court.

The cases against politicians were constructed for political victimization, he said, adding that, Cases against PPP leadership were made during the period of Chief Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) Nawaz Sharif for that he has regretted the act.

It was also mentioned in the charter of democracy that most of the cases were constructed to victimize political opponents, he said. Cases made during the period of former President Farooq Leghari were also based on malafide intentions, he said.

Till 28 November, 2009, NRO is protected under constitution and it will lapse after 28 November, he said. Situation will get cleared after November 28. We will accept the verdict of Supreme Court on the issue, he said.

If any beneficiary of NRO found guilty will be dealt in accordance with the law, State Minister for Sindh said this while answering to a question. “We will accept the verdict of Supreme Court with open heart. We will accept the court decision even against President. We must live in the Present,” Sindhu added.

“The article 48 of the Constitution provides amenity to the President. President is symbol of federation. We must honor the office of President,” he said.

Beneficiaries of NRO may be politicians, may be bureaucrats will be dealt according to law, he said.

“We had pressure of NRO even before elections. It was misinterpreted and people were misguided on the subject during election campaign. We contested election under NRO. I do not have any moral pressure. Pressure should be on those who constructed baseless cases,” he said.


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Zardari in the Crosshairs

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Zardari in the Crosshairs

Posted on 20 November 2009 by PakBee - Total hits: 2,076

Afghanistan’s election crisis has temporarily abated, but Pakistan could soon face a volatile political transition of its own. President Asif Ali Zardari is under ever-increasing pressure to resign. His influence and power is dwindling and will likely continue to diminish in the coming months. By this spring, the Zardari presidency could meet its end.

There have been several waves of pressure on Zardari this year, coming primarily from the Army and segments of the private media — both see Zardari as inept, corrupt, and unpatriotic. And it appears that the Army is entering into a decisive final stage in its power struggle with Zardari, which began with the latter’s attempt last year to put the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, the military’s chief spy service, under civilian control. Until now, Zardari has called his opponents’ bluff, and they, lacking the constitutional means to remove him, have faltered in their attempts to oust him. But cracks in Zardari’s political coalition are emerging and he is more vulnerable now than ever.

Pakistani politics has historically been marked by extreme bandwagoning around an ascending power broker. Smaller parties ride it to the top, but once the political peak has been reached, they vacate their defensive positions and join the attacking side.

Zardari is fast falling prey to this dynamic. In a recent television interview, for instance, Altaf Hussain, head of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) — a second-tier political party and member of Zardari’s coalition government — asked the president to resign. Hussain has since backtracked after MQM parlays with Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). But the MQM and other parties successfully prevented the PPP from renewing the 2007 National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), an amnesty bill that benefitted Zardari and other members of the coalition government.

Without this parliamentary protection, Zardari and his allies are now exposed, wounded, and the sharks smell blood in the water. Some would like to leave him limbless — without meaningful constitutional powers to impact the political process — but alive enough to make key concessions and serve as a figurehead. Others are aiming for the jugular.

The Pakistani Army, by all indications, would like to see Zardari go, having tried to push him closer to the exit door in March and August of this year. Zardari’s accidental presidency, which was produced by his wife’s assassination and political deal making to secure an indirect election, was never quite accepted by the Army, which sees him as overly dovish, if not “traitorous,” on security issues, like India, and is on edge about the president’s attempts to impose civilian oversight over the military.

The scheduled retirement of Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani in November 2010 is likely to add further strain to this relationship. Zardari, as president, has the power to appoint the head of the Army and other military services. His dysfunctional relationship with the Army could create a sense of uncertainty within the institution and fear that its corporate autonomy and monopoly over shaping national security policy are under threat. As Pakistan battles a hydra-headed insurgency in its Pashtun belt and the United States seeks an endgame in Afghanistan, healthy civil-military relations in Pakistan are critical.
Most political elements — including Zardari’s own prime minister and his party’s vice chairman, Yousuf Raza Gilani — would settle for him to be constitutionally neutered, ending the president’s ability to dissolve parliament and appoint military service chiefs. Gilani seeks an empowered premiership. And toward this end (some Pakistani commentators speculate, with good reason), he has been colluding with the Army and elements of the opposition to weaken Zardari’s position.

However Gilani is playing his cards, he has a difficult balancing act to maintain, for he could be discarded if and when Zardari is ousted by the Machiavellian maneuvering of opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, who covets a third shot at the premiership. Gilani could, at least for the next year, be an asset for Sharif — serving to neutralize Zardari and constitutionally empower the presently weakened office of prime minister. It would make political sense for Sharif to then push for midterm elections just after the economic and security climate bottoms out and once the prime minister’s office is fully empowered. (One can almost hear Sharif’s advisors saying, “Let Gilani, Zardari, and the PPP do the dirty work.”) To serve as prime minister for the third time, Sharif would need a constitutional amendment passed by a two-thirds majority in parliament to lift a two-term limit on the premiership. Sharif can only get this passed via deal making with other political parties, but the Army can also get in the mix, make some deals of its own, and shut out Sharif.

But when it comes to Zardari’s fight for political survival, it’s the second-tier political parties, such as the MQM, that are the true wildcards. Since no party in Pakistan currently holds a parliamentary majority, the smaller parties have a veto power on parliamentary votes (such as for impeachment). Not surprisingly, these parties are using their wild-card status — coupled with Zardari’s vulnerability — as a bargaining chip in order to influence his actions to their benefit. The MQM, for example, would like governorship of Sindh and to retain administrative control over urban areas of the province. But it and other small parties generally side with the dominant or rising power broker. The recent MQM push against Zardari signals, at least, a political consensus in favor of a weakened Zardari.
If these parties continue to successfully manipulate Zardari he will become a ceremonial president, which would result in nothing short of a political prison. It would deny him tangible power and delay his eligibility for a run for the National Assembly, and thus for the premiership, until two years after his presidential term ends. What’s more, internal divisions within the PPP are sure to increase as Zardari’s capacity to influence events declines and alternative power centers grow in his place.

Zardari’s decline has serious implications for U.S. policy toward Pakistan. His political neutralization would deny the United States a local civilian lever against the Pakistan Army. Restraining the Army’s praetorianism, some in Washington argue, will markedly reduce its support for militants in Afghanistan and India, as Pakistan’s major political parties (particularly the PPP) are far more inclined toward normalizing ties with neighboring states.

As the challenges in Afghanistan grow and Zardari weakens, Washington becomes increasingly dependent on the Pakistani Army. In fact, U.S. success or failure in Afghanistan will, in part, be decided by the Pakistani Army, which can influence the tempo and trajectory of the war with its control of supply routes from the Arabian Sea into Afghanistan and unparalleled access to Afghan insurgent groups.
Although the United States could try to use Sharif — a vocal advocate of civilian control over the military — he has a long history of leveraging anti-American sentiment and has been unwilling to adopt a firm position against the Taliban. Furthermore, if Washington indelicately shifts its patronage from Zardari to Sharif, the Army could intercept the telegraphed pass.

Within the next few years, Zardari’s political demise could also impact Pakistan’s ideological balance of power. Without meaningful internal reform, the future of the PPP — Pakistan’s largest center-left party — is at stake. Zardari’s unpopularity and inability to legitimately lay claim to the Bhutto name has weakened the PPP in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province. But he, at least, provides some nominal continuity from the Bhutto era as Benazir’s widower.

Internal elections and a reinvigorated push for social justice could bring the PPP back to relevancy. But without that change, the PPP could be reduced to a feudal strip in southern Punjab and rural Sindh, and of declining importance in an increasingly urbanized Pakistan. Indeed, for Zardari, the greatest challenge is not to save his presidency, but to save his party.

The PPP is both a family enterprise dominated by the Bhuttos and Zardaris and a national institution that anchors Pakistan’s secularists and leftists. If the PPP sank along with Zardari, Pakistan would be without a truly national party — the remaining major parties are ethnic or regional — and the odds of ethnic and political fragmentation would increase dramatically. A leaderless left would also embolden the nationalist and Islamic right as Pakistan confronts jihadis at home and debates whether to continue supporting them in the region. And so as Zardari ponders his political future, let us hope that he does not bring down his party, which is critical to his nation’s stability, in a bid to save his imperiled presidency.

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The NRO in Hindsight

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The NRO in Hindsight

Posted on 19 November 2009 by PakBee - Total hits: 2,357

BLACK as the National Reconciliation Ordinance was, no one can deny it served a political purpose and helped bring democracy back to Pakistan. In hindsight, one gains a clearer perspective on Benazir Bhutto’s viewpoint.

She was being asked to come back to Pakistan and rejoin the political mainstream and provide some semblance of democracy to Gen Musharraf’s rule. The Bush government was in power in the US, and it was reluctant to see Gen Musharraf go, yet was finding it difficult to support him in power on an as-is basis. The idea of Benazir providing a political façade, perhaps with control over some aspects of governance, partnering with Musharraf in control of certain other key matters of state, was devised.
The NRO was the price Benazir set for her comeback — and understandably, whatever the remit agreed for her as prime minister in the new set-up, she wanted to work in the role at least unfettered by politically motivated cases against her and her family.

True, statespersons should not require ordinances conferring immunity from legal cases, but historically Pakistan’s judicial record and tradition had been dismal. Up to that point, the judiciary had proved itself weak and endorsed every dictator and served every civilian ruler. Given that background, the flawed NRO, or specifically its aim of providing relief from a political witch-hunt against Benazir Bhutto, did help spur the return of democracy in the country by allowing her to return. That much has to be said for it.

Side by side, ironically, a military dictator, to his own later dismay, became instrumental in laying the foundations of a stronger future for democracy by unshackling the media. The people power that brought back Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was made possible only because the lawyers’ movement was able to use the media effectively. Previous such movements by the intelligentsia, such as the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy in Ziaul Haq’s time, failed partly due to a weak and gagged media.

Now the judiciary has turned a corner, and is bringing about revolutionary and historic changes in its own ranks, besides helping to make other institutions stronger. The removal of PCO judges was unheard of in the past — now we have seen that too.

The Supreme Court’s referral of Musharraf’s ordinances back to parliament, instead of judging them in the courts, has brought about the miracle of the NRO’s death at the hands of the National Assembly during the PPP’s own rule — though unfortunately, the military had to give a helping hand in choking the NRO. But one is witnessing a display of increasing maturity on the part of the military establishment as well. The media, too, is at its strongest ever in Pakistan. Given these developments, especially in the character of the judiciary, i.e. its newfound independence, the NRO’s original purpose stands dissipated. Firstly, both the PPP and the PML-N have learnt painful lessons with regard to the pitfalls of using the judiciary to settle political scores, which is that only non-democratic forces gain from it in the long run. Secondly, it is highly unlikely that a judiciary that stood up to a military dictator in the recent past, and purged itself of the black sheep thereafter, will be in any mood to become a tool in the hands of any political party or personality, in office or not.

Thus, at the present time beneficiaries of the NRO should not have any fear of political victimisation resulting from a relapse of the ordinance. They should welcome the hearing of their cases by a strong and independent judiciary, bringing to a close the hideous 60-year-long chapter of judicial collusion in the destruction of democracy and democratic institutions in Pakistan’s history.

Instead, some PPP personalities like Senator Islamuddin Shaikh are even now being heard criticising the PML-N’s opposition to the NRO, citing the indirect benefit to PML-N leaders in terms of being able to contest elections and become part of the revived democratic process.

These criticisms sound hollow and irrelevant, not to mention suspicious, given that the only purpose the NRO would have served in the new order, had it not died, would have been to offer protection to corruption and crime under the guise of ‘national reconciliation’ — given that it is no longer required for protection from political victimisation. In 2007 it served as the jump cable for the motorcar with dead batteries. A jump-start was achieved, the cable is no longer needed. It is the utter misfortune of Pakistan that such politicians as the respected Senator Shaikh, who refuse to acknowledge or learn from their continuing blunders, instead lashing out at any critical voice, still occupy powerful positions and remain committed to their own preservation instead of to governing the country and directing it away from an unfolding implosion. They just don’t know when to move forward.

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