Amazing! The guy who helped rape the country as privatization minister under Musharraf has been selected to be new Finance Advisor (to replace Shaukat Tareen). I am sure IMF/WB are delighted!
Wah Ray Democracy!
But no surprise, really. Remember the four governors of all four provinces are still those installed by Musharraf, the policies being followed are all those of Musharraf, the COAS is the one selected by Musharraf. So who needs Musharraf. It does remind me of the old Eric Margolis article ‘Zardari is the New Musharraf’
Just financial wizardry that we will see in the days to come can well be gauged by today’s article by Mohammad Malick. First he mentions the case of Humayun Saifullah’s attempts to get the government to take notice of the unlawful arbitrary ‘discretionary’ granting of contracts worth almost 100 billion rupees by the National Highway Authority (see The News editorial on it here)… Of course the recommendations to prevent such a thing for happening have been gathering dust for over six months. What happened next? Well, let Mr. Malick describe it:
But the most amazing part of the whole episode was that near the end of his short lament, Humayun Saifullah literally shouted: “Is anyone listening? Will anyone in the government answer me?” and not a single minister or a treasury member even bothered feigning attentiveness, let alone offer any response.
Humayun had a point as he looked towards the prime minister since all authorities are controlled by the cabinet division which in turn is under the direct supervision of the prime minister.
But the PM was simply too busy signing away. Tragically warped priorities, is all one can say. Talking of confusions and tragedies, it wasn’t as if the House didn’t have its funny moments. So what if they bordered on the edge of being ludicrous.
(Malick then talks about Nawab Yousaf Talpur eating his heart over an insolent post master of a little town, which too is worth a read)
Malick also sees to have been privy to this appointment of Hafeez Sheikh as he informs us in the footnote:
FOOTNOTE: In the coming days I shall bare the explosive details of a multi-billion dollar scam against Pakistan but let me share just one thing in advance that it happened on the watch of one man who is being seriously considered to watch over the national kitty as the country’s next finance minister. So keep your fingers closed and pray hard.
Since we are talking fraud, let me also add a few related news items of late.
First of course is the same FWO/NHA scam where we are told Rs 55 Billion of these illegal contracts went to Relatives and Friends of Musharraf (I hope this is not an attempt to shift focus away from the current lot of thieves).
Next we find out that the Rs. 22 Billion “dacoity” at Pakistan Steel Mill is found by Auditor General to in fact have been a dacoity of Rs. 39 Billion, and still, we are informed, the Ministry of Industries and Production is “criminally silent”. It rightly adds:
Sources believe that this serious damage to this national asset has been caused firstly to make some quick billions for some powerful people and secondly to turn it into a failed asset to pave the way for its privatisation to some selected parties.
Powerful business groups, having right connections in the present political dispensation, are reportedly bidding to bag the entire organisation, just as cronies of Musharraf tried in his regime, at throwaway price. These sources said that while the Pakistan Steel is drowning, all the related suppliers, contractors and dealers have multiplied their fortunes during this period.
These sources believe that the PSM is capable of making a positive U-turn if its management is appointed on merit, qualification and experience, and is saved from political interference.
And with Mush’s Privatization Minister — who was instumental in these robberies — taking over as Finance Minster tomorrow — it sure gives you a nice, fuzzy feeling, don’t it?
If all this doesn’t lift your spirit, then you ought not to miss Ansar Abbasi’s piece “The billions quietly gulped by the oil mafia”
Mohammed Malick has a follow-up article:
…Oh, by the way did somebody just mention the gentleman’s stint as Musharrafís privatisation minister and the amazing privatisation deal of PTCL which saw the bartering away of a national asset in a criminal manner. So what if the nation is still paying for the multi-billion dollar fiasco (but that will come as a separate story like I promised in an earlier column). Can the country really afford to put a man in charge of the entire national kitty when he could not even safeguard the national interest in one tiny winy multi-billion dollar deal. Will those, whose candidatures are being pushed by IMF and the sort be expected to stand up to such institutional benefactors for the sake of ambiguous national interest? Isn’t the answer obvious. It’s time, the consensus prime minister grew an individual spine and looked inwards to appoint someone with verve and imagination to take the nationís economy forward instead of allowing himself to be brow beat into re-imposing those who were tried in the past, and didnít make the cut. There are people even in his own cabinet who have the capacity to make this broken machine work. But since in all likelihood the gentleman will get appointed and I won’t be able to take out even a motorbike loan for writing this rubbish, allow me the audacity to offer another unsolicited suggestion: with Musharraf’s finance whiz girl already here, and his privatisation minister too being brought in, Mr. Gilani might as well reappoint Tariq Aziz as his advisor and the president can get Gen Æ Hamid Javed back as the president’s chief of staff and we could all live happily ever after as one big happy family. And who knows, if this trend continues, then maybe both Musharraf and Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat too would not have to toil with the new All Pakistan Muslim League and simply join the consensus government in one justifiable capacity or another.
One thing continues to trouble me though. A couple of days back the honourable Chief Justice Lahore High Court, Kh. Mohammad Sharif was really peeved at Hindus giving money to Muslims, I now wonder what he will have to say about Indian Hindus taking out their brilliant fund manager and loaning him to Pakistan as the future finance minister. Surely, Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz must be rolling on their sides and laughing their eyes out. Welcome to our democratic world, which just can’t seem to shrug itself free of Musharaff’s ghost(s)….