Former head of Ehtesab Bureau (NAB) and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s close aide Saif ur Rehman will play a major role in projects to be undertaken in connection with Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (amounting to $38 billion, over 5 years). According to sources, Saif had been inducted back on the orders of the ‘high-ups’. Mr Saif is infamous as the whip during Sharif’s second tenure as PM and is making a comeback. Are we returning to Al-Corruption-Sharifistan of the 90s? Is the whip recruited to be the middleman between government of Pakistan (more accurately family Nawaz Sharif & Co.) and Qatar/China in return for a handsome share i.e. through commissions and kickbacks? The coal power plant project (2x660MW) at Port Qasim that was inaugurated last week — joint venture of Sino hydro Resources Limited, China and Al Mirqab Capital, Qatar – is estimated at $2 billion (link to source at bottom of page). Who is the middleman? Mr. Saif ur Rehman. A picture is worth a thousand words. During Sharif’s downtime, Saif ur Rehman built his company Redco in Doha and enjoys good relations with the Qatari royal family.
So how do politicians/(ex)bureaucrats/senators or more to the point, how does the PM make money? Because let’s not forget, being a PM or an MNA/MPA/bureaucrat/senator is a job that officially pays no money as these public servants get paid by the national exchequer using taxes paid by the people of a country (Pakistan doesn’t collect much tax as it is).
Answer: through commissions.
And how does that work? Simple, you get your middlemen to bring in projects, you make sure the projects get authorised and everyone gets a cut. Take a conservative figure; let’s assume the commission is 1% value of the total cost of a project. A $2 billion project translates to $20 million commission. You take that and split it between your partners in crime.And that’s just from one project. Very favourable returns, wouldn’t you say? The $2 billion to finance the project to begin with is either paid through loans (given by foreign institutions for the development of a country which the average citizen must pay back) or paid using taxpayers money (which as mentioned earlier we don’t have much of so it’s mostly loan financing). But either way the $20 million earnings in commission that went to the PM and his sidekicks is also money that belongs to the people of Pakistan. This is one aspect of corruption. Leads to ask the next question: why are elections rigged, why isn’t their electoral transparency? So that one party always retains majority rule in the parliament and that the head of the party gets to make all the shots sitting in the comfort of his house (why do we have a parliament again?). Rigged elections = undertaking lucrative projects = commissions worth millions and millions and millions of dollars. All you have to do then with your commissions is to park that money into foreign accounts where it sits and earns interest and makes you more and more money by itself.
If you’ve forgotten who Saif ur Rehman is: here’s a refresher.
He headed the National Accountability Bureau during NS’s stint as PM. Recall those telephone clips played by PPP as part of their election campaign in 2013? Conversation between Mr Saif ur Rehman and Justice Abdul Qayyum reveal the political bankruptcy and shallowness of this system and how it is manipulated to benefit a few. The tapes disclose how Justice Qayyum was bullied by Nawaz Sharif and his henchmen into convicting Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari for corruption in 1998. This means that – irrespective of the substantial evidence laid against the two accused – the trial was not conducted entirely in a free or fair manner as required by law. But then, there is no law in this country, now is there?
Nawaz Sharif, Saif ur Rehman and others are accused of reducing import duty from 325% to 125% on import of luxury cars (BMW) causing a loss of PKR 2 billion to the national exchequer.
On the imposition of emergency and freezing of foreign currency accounts, Nawaz Sharif and Saif ur Rehman did who knows what with the $11 billion dollars belonging to local Pakistanis. Without the consent of account holders, Foreign Exchange Bearer Certificates (FEBC) accounts were frozen and foreign exchange was misappropriated.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a press freedom organisation, said on June 1, 1999 that it was conducting an investigation into a “hit list” prepared by the Pakistan government that contains 35 prominent journalists of Pakistan. According to reports received by the CPJ, the federal government had decided to establish a special media cell comprising officials from the police, Intelligence Bureau and the Federal Investigation Agency to punish the journalists, who had been writing against the government. Ehtesab Bureau Chairman, Senator Saif ur Rehman Khan was to head this cell which would function from Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi and Peshawar with its head office in Islamabad. Oh look, isn’t a version of this taking place in 2014 too?
Ask the right questions and demand answers; the least you could do for a country that was carved out of the lives of millions of individuals who suffered and lost everything due to partition, including their lives. There is a reason this country continues to suffer, it’s because we don’t hold office bearers accountable to us.
As a parting thought…there are no coal deposits near Port Qasim, in a country with coal deposits that will not deplete for 200 years of extensive use, will coal be imported from elsewhere to power the Port Qasim coal power plants? Or will it be transported from a larger distance within Pakistan? There is a reason coal plants are set up in close proximity to coal deposits.