Saturday, November 14, 2009 (The News)
Today President Zardari and the Sharif brothers stand exposed. The moment of reckoning is upon them. Proof of their allegedly stealing billions, from what rightfully belonged to the people of Pakistan, is before us in black and white. Washington and London, with the blessings of our establishment, have finally decided to let the skeletons in the politicians' cupboards come out. The politicians tried to outsmart the military by flirting with the Kerry-Lugar Bill cleverly scripted by our ambassador in Washington. The army threw in a monkey wrench and thwarted it. Husain Haqqani has since gone into hiding while his boss in Islamabad is hunkered down in the Presidency.
Folks, the army is not going to topple the government through a coup. It is going to pull the plug on our leaders charged with corruption. Democracy will not be disturbed; we will only witness a change of guards. Faces like Aitzaz Ahsan, newly returned from Washington DC (maybe with an important message from the White House?), can well be our future rulers.
The toothless NAB is leaking like a sieve. Or is it the agencies that whisked away classified files from the basement of its Islamabad office, fearing that the present government may tinker with the proof; even destroy it? The damning documents of alleged kickbacks received by Zardari from the sale of three submarines have wormed their way to the French daily Liberation, courtesy the NAB. It's just one small piece of the larger picture.
In Washington, the chased-out Pervez Musharraf called Zardari a "criminal," a "fraud" and a "third-rater." Halleluiah! Musharraf has now seen the sinister side of a man with whom he negotiated the NRO and left him in charge of 180 million Pakistanis. My educated guess is that the Americans gave the nod and a wink to the general to go ahead and abuse Zardari.
The NAB, or make it the secret agencies, have also the Sharif brothers trapped today. Stabbed by their own man, Ishaq Dar, the brothers' alleged corruption is out in the open. In a 43-page confessional statement by Dar recorded on April 25, 2000, before the district magistrate of Lahore, Dar admits to handling the Sharif's finances, alleging that Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif were involved in money laundering worth at least $14.886 million.
Meanwhile Musharraf awaits the return of the three with impatient glee.
But Zardari's appointee in Washington too may be moving. "The [Pakistani] military clearly has decided that it would like to have him removed," says The Boston Globe, citing a congressional aide not authorised to speak to the media. "If he returned home, friends say, his safety could be threatened," reports the Globe. "Haqqani hasn't returned to Islamabad for eight months." One "friend" describes Haqqani-bashing as "brutal." Michael Krepon of the Henry L Stimson Center, who has penned many Pakistan-centric articles lambasting our security agencies, has known Haqqani for long.
The ambassador has already received a "welcome back" message from Boston University's spokesman Colin Riley. Haqqani currently wears two hats: Pakistan's ambassador to Washington and Boston University's professor. According to the Globe, he has "maintained ties with BU" and "continues to advise a student pursuing a doctorate who is defending her dissertation this month." Can an envoy of a country serve two masters? Well, Haqqani is blatantly doing it, and also drawing two salaries?
I have great news for the NRO dirty dozens soon to become political fugitives. It's safe to make New York your home. Thanksgiving and Christmas is here, guys. The shopping is great; the deals amazing. The godfather who likes to wear $17,000-a-pair shoes will feel right at home in Manhattan. The New York Stock Exchange is up. Go grab another penthouse on Fifth Avenue, or buy yourself a 2nd, a 3rd mansion. Buy a dog and name him Maximilian.
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