Crooks and Liars

Fauji Cement

The leaked ‘Panama Papers’ have confirmed what everyone was already sure of: Political leaders are crooks who are bleeding the country dry. Equally predictable is the response of many who are calling for the Army to step in and stop the crooks from looting the country. However, buried under the popular narrative are some inconvenient facts that should be considered.

In addition to the politicians who are taking up the headlines, there were some others that have been caught stashing loot in secret offshore accounts. One of those people is Axact CEO Shoaib Shaikh. Axact been accused of being an ISI front company, a claim that is strongly denied. However, Shoaib Shaikh himself has boasted openly about his close relations and work for GHQ, none of which has been fully explained. Some analysts believe that despite being caught red handed, he will walk away scott free. Is it pure coincidence that his lawyer is Shaukat Hayat, whose other client is Gen Pervez Musharraf?

This raises an uncomfortable question: Is there any reason to believe that the military is actually any less corrupt than the politicians?

People will scoff because of course we know that the military is the most professional institution where corruption can not be tolerated. But this ignores the billions and billions that have been embezzled by military officers over the years.

There are also unanswered questions about the financial reality of other enterprises such as Fauji Foundation:

Whether or not they are a cover for large-scale corruption, it is clear that the foundations provide perks, privileges and fancy salaries for serving and retired officers, beyond public scrutiny, that give the armed forces a powerful vested interest in retaining power. Moreover, the constant flow of public resources from the national budget to military-controlled ventures to cover their losses constitutes a financial drain that a deeply indebted, bankrupt country like Pakistan, dependent on U.S. and International Monetary Fund aid, cannot afford.

Corruption among politicians and their cronies is inexcusable and should be investigated and prosecuted per the laws. We should not pretend, though, that there is a pure and flawless saviour waiting in the wings.

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