A Much Needed Reality Check

Shaukat Khanum Memorial

In the ongoing political spat between PML(N) and PTI, both parties have leveled serious allegations against each other by way of financial scams.  Kh. Asif, the trusted lieutenant of NS has come out openly accusing Imran of money laundering and wasting the public endowment funds in the vicinity of Rs. 4.5 Million, a humongous sum of money, in speculative investment abroad.  If true, it may not have caused a dent in the national treasury but – being the public money – it becomes morally imperative that Imran Khan clarifies the position.  All in all, it is a scathing attack on Imran Khan’s saintliness that we know him for.  In return, Imran has cited the money made by the Sharif family via the “midnight proposals” on the motorway feasibility, subsequent project cost overruns, cab scam, tax evasion, loan-defaulting etc., partly spending it on raising the Raiwind hacienda and stashing away the balance in foreign banks.

It is not the question of who is right and who is wrong?  A reality check is necessary to come to the right conclusion. However, it is important that transparency should be established for the trust funds of Shaukat Khanum because it is the money the people endowed to the hospital through massive donations. Losing this money on chance games, if it is true, is a serious breach of the public trust. The onus of responsibility for coming clean on these damaging recriminations lies on the shoulders of Imran Khan.

Regardless of the allegations and counter-allegations, it must be understood that nobody should be taken as a sacred cow, much less Imran Khan. He is only a mortal and must know that no one is above suspicion except the caesar’s wife. It is the responsibility of Imran Khan to prove once and for all that the money was not taken out for dissolute pleasure in the guise of investment in business abroad, public trust was not betrayed and if taken it has not been used and lost unethically and immorally because it comes from the public.  Accountability and transparency must not be selective or that it should be applied in some cases and overlooked in others. Moreover, the conflict of interest in regard to the Board of Governors of this unique hospital must be addressed, the public satisfied and all the doubts creeping up in the minds of people laid to rest.

It would be highly inadvisable to say that Shaukat Khanum Trust should not be touched or questioned because the management of the trust is above board.  A thorough investigation must be made now and the accounts reconciled not only to post a fitting riposte to the allegations of Imran’s political detractors but to satisfy the public also that their money was not wasted in a dubious way.  Innocence must not be taken for granted in any case.  When it comes down to pointing out anomalies or misuse of public funds in any set-up, a full-fledged enquiry needs must be held and facts established one way or the other.

Both Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif are eminent persons in their own right but as the ball is now in Imran’s court, he should come good on his responsibility to clarify his position against the allegations made about the corruption. If he can satisfy the curiosity of the people whose faith may have been shaken to its roots, it will give Imran a clean chit to redouble his efforts in upholding the cause of the public welfare and do all the point scoring necessary to boost up his upcoming election campaign.

I hope and pray that a showdown in a court of law determines the veracity of this whole affair one way or the other.  In my opinion, both NS and Imran are in the dock but Imran is in a tighter spot because he is known to be Mr. Clean and needs to clear his name earlier the better.

Will the great Khan listen?

 

The author is 74 years of age and has vast experience of working with government officials and ministers. He can be reached at <gulzar.anwar1@gmail.com>

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