STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Capital arena’s event was a roaring success as I had predicted in my last post. Politicians all over the world pay close attention to crowd size. Assembling 20 to 25 thousand audience in the heart of Washington DC is rare and a big deal for any leader. North American life style is different. It sets the tone for the rest of the trip. Kudos to the organizers and hats off to the participants. PTI’s OIC Secretary Dr. Abdulla Rair needs a special mention for spear heading this effort along with many other notables. My heartiest congratulations to the Canadian contingent, especially from GTA/Toronto for their presence in such great numbers.
Despite a thorny agenda, the meeting with President Donald Trump went well. IK was able to hold his own. Raising Kashmir issue that led to an offer to mediate, arbitrate by President Trump is a breakthrough. Even though Trump’s commitments should be given 48 to 72 hours to gel, he runs his Presidency through tweets. Beware the midnight tweet!
All the meetings, speeches, interaction with Media, Congress and Senators, think tanks, business leaders, prominent community leaders boosted Pakistan’s lagging image. It has changed Pakistan’s perception.
Having travelled with IK, I know he comes into his own dealing with sophisticated audiences, when he speaks from his hearts on matters he passionately believes in. He can swing his audiences with the power of his arguments spoken with conviction. An insider quoted IMF President’s reaction. “The President is happy with the discussions, he felt there is a genuine leader who cares about his country.” That summarizes IK’s impact.
Whatever the results of behind the scene meetings, Pakistan has emerged as an important regional player with an articulate leader with whom you can do business. India is no more the regional policeman. We are no longer whipping boys or minions from whom you keep demanding “Do More”. There is dignity involved, there is mutual respect, it’s working together for mutual interests.
For an anemic nation recovering from near disaster of a possible bankruptcy it is a “feel good” moment. Despite challenges on multiple fronts both internally and externally, feeling good, sensing relief, getting hope is a whiff of fresh air in a stifling environment.
Prime Minister Imran Khan will return to a belligerent opposition seeking to take over Senate. A section of Media falsely claiming suffocation. Rebellious traders with strong roots in PML(N). A dysfunctional Punjab Government doddering under weak leadership. Unchecked rise in Child abuse. A colonial Police urgently needing reforms. A ticking time bomb in the shape of population explosion. An under serviced and underperforming agricultural sector, the list goes on.
The reform agenda has still to take roots. But in the history of nations, it is one step at a time. It takes unflinching commitment, total dedication, requires nerves of steel, incorruptible leadership to stem the rot whose roots go back at least 35 years. However it needs a game plan, a well thought through strategy, a competent team focused on results. IK has to butt heads and seek results, while constantly improving his team.
In my opinion completing the Accountability cycle at an early date should top the agenda. Till this is achieved, uncertainty will continue to prevail. We have a case of “Chor machaye shor” or even better “Naalay chor naalay chatar”. Punjabi is very expressive!
My hometown Lyallpur has contributed very well to the national mainstream, both in the shape of productivity and talent. I met one such person while staying with Hassan Nisar. Major Shahzad, DG NAB Lahore who happens to be from Lyallpur, a neighbor in PCSIR, and a family friend. It was friendly banter about our hometown, sharing stories of revered Sufi Barkat Ali of Lyallpur, experiences and views. With my experience and global exposure, couple of things hit me hard. His passion and dedication for his job. His simplicity in life. With 35 years of service, including 20 years in NAB he still does not own a house or a car. He is the new definition of “public servant”. He actually believes in it! We need hundreds like him to cleanse our house! He is serving the public by digging and unearthing the corrupt who have chewed the guts out of our nation leading it to its present precarious state.
This got me pondering. In an earlier post dated June 15th, I emphasized for an urgent need to define treason. It is “crime of betraying one’s country”. What is betrayal? Financial corruption when holding office under an oath of loyalty and upholding the Constitution is betrayal of national interests for personal gains. The act of drowning the nation in a sea of debt is treason. China has done that. It has landed 400 corrupt officials/ politician in jail or executed.
To expedite Accountability the following steps need to be taken immediately:
- First is a request to the Honorable Chief Justice Supreme Court. Your step of making Model Courts is commendable. However the burning need is to turn NAB courts into Model Courts so that day to day hearings can be held.
- The next request is both to the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice. If there are 5 judges in NAB, increase the number to 25. NAB is one of the most profitable organizations. According to my sources, since its inception it has cost approximately Rs 20 Billion. It has recovered over Rs 300 Billion from the corrupt.
- Based on this strong viability, the Government should provide resources to NAB to engage top prosecutors with expertise in financial crimes.
- Additional experts should be provided to NAB to unearth sophisticated criminal acts of concealment, theft, money laundering, acquiring assets beyond means.
- Finally an urgent request to Government to legislate that once convicted from trial court, with conviction upheld by High Courts, a final appeal in Supreme Court should automatically trigger the additional charge of treason.
Quoting ex Prime Minister “Janab e Speaker Yeh hain wo zaraiy” that will clear up the mess created by our National Criminals. That is the sting in the tail we all seek!