Nawaz Sharif's Disqualification: What the Western Media Does Not Realize
By Dr Mahjabeen Islam
Democracy and corruption are supposed to be inversely related. The transparency inherent in a democratic system reduces the perpetuation of corruption.
Immediately upon Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification by the Supreme Court, mainstream Western media, almost uniformly, condemned his ouster calling it an attack on Pakistan’s democracy.
The appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia and the handling of Nawaz Sharif by the Joint Investigative Taskforce provide interesting parallels at many levels.
On May 9, 2017 Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey, apparently after Comey refused to end the criminal investigation into the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia. Trump demanded Comey’s loyalty but Comey would only promise honesty. On May 17, 2017 the Justice Department appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia.
On April 4, 2014 the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism published the Panama Papers, exposing tax evasion by the world’s elite through offshore accounts and shell companies. Nawaz Sharif and his family were also named. Nawaz Sharif denied wrongdoing and set up a judicial committee to investigate the charges. Opposition parties rejected the judicial commission and on November 1, 2016 the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. On April 20, 2017 in a split 3-2 verdict the Supreme Court ordered the formation of a JIT. The PML-N labeled this a victory and Nawaz Sharif and Saad Rafiq promised to abide by the decision of the JIT. Sweet celebrations followed, as did PML-N exerting pressure on the JIT. The intimidation and pressure on the JIT became so intense that ex-CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry demanded security of the JIT, the Supreme Court justices and their families.
On July 28, 2017 in a stunning unanimous verdict the Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif and despite his promise to abide by the JIT decision, Nawaz Sharif was left kicking and screaming. And will now face contempt of court charges for thumbing his nose at the Supreme Court and continuing as PML-N party chair.
The Trump-Sharif parallels continue. Trump calls the investigation a witch-hunt and Sharif cries hoarse - literally - about not knowing why the Supreme Court disqualified him. Goebbels, Hitler’s information minister, employed the same tactics: repeat an untruth ad infinitum to the point that you yourself believe it to be true.
Journalist Adam Davidson has published an article for the August 21 edition of the New Yorker in which he traces Trump’s business association with Kazakhstan banker Mukhtar Ablyazov who was indicted in 2009 of £3 billion bank fraud as chairman of BTA bank. In 2005, Ablyazov gave loans to shell companies in neighboring Georgia through the Silk Road Group. In 2012 then property developer Trump was paid $1 million for opening the Trump Tower Batoumi seaside resort in Georgia. A simple Google search at the time would have revealed the extensive money laundering and fraud connected with the Silk Road Group and BTA Bank, but this was not done. Now, though, charges can be filed against Trump under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for an American associating with fraudulent individuals.
Worse yet for Trump the Kazakh and Russian governments have huge dossiers about people, local and foreign, with the ability to easily blackmail them.
On the Pakistan front, there are reports of cronyism by the Sharif family in CPEC contracts. Additionally, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan had a work permit, and consequent bank accounts, as a resident of the UAE. Much like the money laundering by Mukhtar Ablyazov, bank accounts in a foreign country make tracing the money trail of devious business deals a great deal more difficult.
A plethora of individuals in the US government, legislative and judicial branches have been indicted and punished for corruption. The only difference between the Sharif ouster and the process in the US is that a Senate panel decides governmental cases. So why was the Western media bemoaning Nawaz Sharif’s fall? Like Pakistanis the world over, the media too was shocked at the Supreme Court verdict. Everyone pretty much expects that the billion-dollar corruption in Pakistan will never cease. Zardari’s ten percent commission, MQM’s bhatta system and Sharif’s lifafa politics would continue unabated. Though the military has not interfered with the democratic process, it is being blamed for the ouster. Activist judges are being blamed as well.
What the media in the West does not realize is that in Pakistan the fox is guarding the henhouse. Expecting Sharif’s judicial commission to be impartial or for the JIT to present its report to the PMLN-dominated Parliament and expect an unbiased verdict would be the epitome of delusion.
And who said democracy had been attacked in Pakistan? No martial law was declared. Democracy in Pakistan remains as dysfunctional as it was in the Nawaz Sharif premiership, with un-parliamentary displays of Sharif’s photo in Parliament and use of taxpayer money for his travels down GT Road.
(Dr Mahjabeen Islam specializes in addiction and family medicine in Toledo Ohio USA)
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