Chapter XI

C O N C L U S I O N:

What is the true state of affairs?

Page 4



Absolute power has corrupted our rulers absolutely. They have had their way since the demise of the Quaid-i-Azam. Corruption is a universal weakness and is hardly confined to Pakistan. But, whereas in other countries it is abhorred and severely proscribed and punished, we have allowed corruption to thrive and spread with total impunity. Today, it has pervaded the whole structure of our society, not excluding politicians, bureaucrats and even some sections of the army.[61] Rampant corruption has now reached its peak and has engulfed every segment of the society. Successive governments always made vocal claims and hollow promises to weed it out. But it all sounds false, as all these people were themselves involved in all types of corrupt practices. Pakistan's credit-rating has been lowered by several foreign agencies, and it has been labeled as the third most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International. However, our rulers believe that corruption is a necessary evil in the developing countries that provides incentive for developments.[62]

Our history is replete with financial scandals such as Cooperatives scam, in which poor and middle class people lost billions of rupees, and huge unpaid bank loans owed to the politicians as well as businessmen. The "Mehrangate" affairs is the latest example of massive corruption that has become part of our system. The arrest of the Mehran Bank chief executive, Yunus Habib, in April 1994, lifted the curtain from one of the biggest financial scandals in Pakistan's history in which Yunus Habib siphoned off a staggering five billion rupees and doled out millions of rupees to politicians in order to cover up his crime. Yunus Habib was arrested on April 7, 1994 by the Federal Investigation Agency on a complaint by the State Bank of Pakistan for committing misappropriation in the sale proceeds of the Dollar Bearer Certificates to the tune of $36.7 million.

On April 20, 1994, giving details about the payments made by Yunus Habib to generals, politicians and political parties, Interior Minister, General Nasirullah Babar, told the National Assembly that the main beneficiary of his largesse was former army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg who received Rs. 140 million. Others who were named by the Interior Minister included: Jam Sadiq Ali (Rs. 70 million from Habib Bank and Rs. 150 million from Mahran Bank); MQM's Altaf Hussein (Rs. 20 million); Yusuf Memon for Ejaz-ul-Haq and Javed Hashmi (Rs. 50 million); Nawaz Sharif (Rs. 6 million); Chief Minister of Sindh Muzaffar Hussain Shah through his secretary (Rs. 13 million); MQM Haqiqi (Rs. 5 million); former Sports Minister Ajmal Khan (Rs. 1.4 million); Jam Mashooq Ali (Rs. 3.5 million); Liaquat Jatoi (Rs. 1 million); Dost Mohammad Faizi (Rs. 1 million) and Jam Haider (Rs. 2 million).[63]

Mehran Bank had been doing badly since its very inception in January 1992, and banking experts unhesitatingly attributed this poor performance to Yunus Habib's penchant for "extra-curricular banking activities." In fact, the only reason why the bank had managed to stay afloat was the protection and patronage enjoyed by Yunus Habib, whereby hefty government accounts were brought to Mehran Bank.[64]

A mere after five months after its doors were opened to the public, however, the bank was in imminent danger of being declared near insolvent. General Mirza Aslam Beg, who was chief of army staff at the time, and the ISI chief, General Javed Nasir came to its rescue and, in the process, unwittingly sealed its fate. Javed Nasir deposited his organization's foreign exchange reserves totaling to 39 million dollars with Mehran Bank, which was in clear violation once again of government rules that such banking must be conducted through state-owned financial institutions.[65]

The ISI account proved to be Yunus Habib's undoing. Habib started dipping into this huge deposit to finance his customary dealings on the side. What he did not foresee, however, was that Javed Nasir's successor at the ISI may prefer to do his banking elsewhere. Soon after Lt. General Javed Ashraf took over in January 1993, the ISI decided to transfer this money to a safer bank. When it tried to withdraw such a huge amount, however, Yunus Habib's bank was in no position to cough up. And it was precisely for this reason that Yunus Habib was picked up by a law enforcement agency in late 1993. A deal was reportedly struck, with Yunus Habib promising to return the money.[66]

Yunus Habib was arrested on April 7, 1994 for misappropriation in the sale proceeds of the Dollar Bearer Certificates. He subsequently admitted that out of the 36.7 million dollars generated through the sale of DBCs, a federal government paper that the State Bank sells through commercial banks, he used 20 million dollars to pay back a portion of the amount owed to the ISI and used the rest of the money to meet some other pressing obligations. According to SBP rules, proceeds from the DBC's (Mehran Bank was given 40 million dollar worth) have to be deposited within 72 hours of the sale. Yunus Habib did not meet this deadline -- in fact, never deposited the money at all-- and as the State Bank governor alleges, misappropriated the funds.[67]

General Aslam Beg, for his part, denies any personal gains in this connection. His organization FRIENDS claims the money was "donated" by Yunus Habib and "his community" and that the amount was deposited directly by Habib into the account of "a government agency." Accounts in the name of an intelligence agency were opened in four separate banks -- Allied Bank, National Bank of Pakistan, Muslim Commercial Bank and United Bank Limited -- and a total of 140 million rupees was deposited in these accounts between September 16 and October 26, 1990. This money was withdrawn almost immediately after it was deposited, and is said to have gone towards bankrolling the 1990 election campaigns of certain politicians. This was not done out of generosity, but allegedly only to further the career designs of Mirza Aslam Beg, who wanted an extension in his tenure as army chief.[68]

General Aslam Beg's admission that in 1990 he took Rs 14 crores from Yunus Habib, and that part of this money was spent by the ISI during the elections that year, while the remaining amount was deposited in a special ISI account, brings into limelight the political role of our intelligence agencies and the right they have often arrogated to themselves through their considerable weight on this or that side of the political scale.

It is no secret that our intelligence agencies, especially since General Zia's martial law, have dabbled in politics. It is because of this sinister nexus that in Pakistan politics, events taking place behind the scenes have often been more important than anything taking place on the surface. It is well known that in the run-up to the 1988 elections, the ISI helped the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad, the broad right-wing alliance which entered the electoral lists against the PPP. Indeed, some senior ISI officials, now retired recall, with a sense of pride, their role in this regard.[69]


The controversy over the sale of a 531-acre farm in Darkhwast Jamal Khan owned by President Leghari and his family to six people from Karachi alleged to be fronting for jailed banker Yunus Habib, gave a new and dramatic twist to the Mehran gate scandal. The president's integrity and his image, as an honest politician, came under question when Nawaz Sharif alleged that Farooq Leghari was involved in the Mehran Bank scandal. Releasing photocopies of bank drafts worth 17 million rupees deposited in Mr. Leghari's account in Mehran Bank, Sharif charged that the money was a pay off by Yunus Habib in return for Leghari's bailing out Mehran bank.[70]

On June 4, 1994, President Leghari conceded that the documents produced by the opposition were related to the sale of a farm that had been owned by him and several of his family members. He defended the deal, saying that there was nothing illegal about it. After much delay, the government set up two judicial commissions to enquire into the Mehran Bank affair and the 140 million rupees paid to the ISI by Yunus Habib in 1990 while he was provincial chief of Habib Bank.

President Leghari told the Newsline, Karachi: "I did ask Mr. Yunus Habib to see if he could arrange for any buyers for the land ... But I didn't know those six people (who eventually bought the land). I am not aware of whether they were fronting for Mr. Yunus Habib or if the land was actually bought by Mr. Yunus Habib and his family.... As a seller, my only interest was to make sure that I got the price of the land." President Leghari, however, admitted, that he was approached by Yunus Habib in April, 1993, when he was Finance Minister in the interim government (April/May 1993) to save Mehran Bank from collapsing. Mr. Leghari referred Yunus Habib's request to the State Bank, but before getting any reply, the interim government was dissolved and Mr. Sartaj Aziz, who became the Finance Minister in the revived government of Nawaz Sharif in April, 1993, ordered the relief given to the Mehran Bank. "The allegation of my having helped Yunus Habib and saved Mehran Bank is false. It was done by Mr. Sartaj Aziz and Mr. Nawaz Sharif. But I have the moral courage to say that yes, I also wanted to do the same and if I had a longer stay as finance minister I would have done the same."[71]

On Dec. 14, 1995 Younus Habib was awarded 10 years rigorous imprisonment and fined Rs 36.7 million in a fraud case by the Special Court for Offenses in Banks in Sindh.[72] However, two years after the appointment, the judicial commission did not complete its enquiry into the Mehran Bank scam. The Mehran Bank scam exemplifies the increasingly corrupt political culture that has taken root in this country. And Mehrangate is just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of banking and financial scams involving politicians that have yet to surface. It seems that all politicians -- whether they belong to the ruling coalition or the opposition -- are part of this corrupt political culture. The charges and counter-charges made by both seem to have only one aim: to cover-up their own crimes.[73]

In July 1994 a commission, comprising five judges, was formed to investigate the Mehran Bank scandal. It took eight months to complete its inquiry in February 1995 but its report was never published. However, parts of the reports were released on December 8, 1996, according to which the commission exonerated President Leghari from any wrong doing in his so-called benami deal. But the commission did not mention to whom the land was sold by the president for Rs. 15 million and from which account the money was debited to make the payment. The Commission also cleared the former chief minister of the North West Frontier Province, Aftab Sherpao and Senator Anwar Saifullah, who were accused of being the main beneficiaries of the Mehran Bank, of all the allegations. (DAWN 9.12.1996) On May 13, 1997, the Commerce Minister, Ishaq Dar informed the Senate that the report was missing from the Law Ministry. According to Dar, the Mehran Bank scandal cost a total of Rs. 9.92 billion to the national exchequer.


Islam has never been an issue in Pakistan. In fact, even those parties which talk of scientific socialism or secular politics did not ignore the potential and popularity of the faith in electoral politics. What however, is a matter of concern is the emergence of propagation of an idea that Islam is opposed to progress and enlightenment.

The emergence of Pakistan on the world map left the ulema high and dry. While leaving their followers in the lurch in post-independence India, the self-styled protagonists of the 'Law of Islam' fled to 'Islamize' Pakistan. Soon after independence, when the administration of the new state was coping with huge problems arising out of the partition of the subcontinent, the ulema began arousing the religious passions of the people to get an "Islamic Constitution" passed by the Constituent Assembly.[74]

The cry of 'Islam in danger' was a powerful weapon in the struggle for Pakistan. Every contemporary politician was aware of the risk that too adventurous policy would be greeted with the dangerous words, 'Islam betrayed.'[75] The politicians therefore wished at least to preserve a facade of harmony on religious matters until the state should be more firmly established.[76] Therefore the post independence period presented the political leadership with the problem of the role of Islam in the structure of the new state. This however, was overshadowed by the need for political stability. Most political leaders and the "moderates" among the men of religion wanted to see a new flexibility in the social and political thinking in Islam. But to pursue this issue before the new constitution had been brought into operation, would have been to invite confusion and conflict.

Politics is 'the art of the possible' and in the long run depends upon convincing the convincible and politically active middle section of the population towards a particular course of action or way of life. Each succeeding government in Pakistan hence thought it suitable to continue with the agencies established to find out the methods for Islamization of the laws and the social structure. As a device to appease the Ulema and illiterate mass of the people, the political leadership conceded that if the Quran has clear guidance to offer on any matter, then that guidance must be followed.

Ironically, it was the socialist and secular Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who started the process of Islamic fundamentalism in the country.He was responsible to declare the Ahmadis constitutionally as non-Muslims. To Islamize the society, he declared Friday as holiday instead of Sunday, and introduced the subjects of Islamiyat as compulsory subject for the students. He invited the Imam of Ka'ba to Pakistan to lead the prayers. However, these initiatives could not save him from the ultimate disaster and he became the victim of his own acts and deeds when almost all the religious parties joined hand in launching a campaign against him.

Bhutto's successor, General Ziaul Haq fully utilized the process of Islamization to achieve his political ends and sought legitimacy by implementing Islam as an ideology of Pakistan. General Zia, with the help of state institutions, weakened the secular and progressive forces and introduced the Hudood, Qisas and Diyat in the legal system of the country. The Federal Shariat Court was established through an amendment to the constitution with the powers to examine and decide the question whether or not any law or provision of law is repugnant to the injunctions of Islam. (Article 203D of the constitution) The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) has proved as a law-demolishing agency in conflict with parliament as the constitutionally sovereign legislative body. The Council of Islamic Ideology, another constitutional body, has restricted itself to a negative role; to identify what is 'repugnant' to Islam without spelling out the alternative which is 'in conformity' with Islam.[77]

The Islamization process, which was used as a political weapon, has caused severe damage to our national life. Wrong interpretation of Islam has resulted in the rise of fundamentalism, obscurantism and retrogression. Since the death of General Zia, inconsistency and instability prevails in our laws. Instability means that the law is frequently changing or is under threat of change because of differences of opinion among the ruling factions. Three of the most obvious inconsistencies in our Islamic law are (a) those between legal norms and socially observed norms; (b) those between statutory legal norms and the norms applied in practice in the courts (e.g. Hadd is difficult to implement as confession, retraction of confession and strict standards of proof make it difficult to execute); (c) those between different formal legal norms (e.g. non-compliance with the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance is compromised by the courts but is strictly punished under the Zina Ordinance). Another example of this contradiction is that the constitution assures women equal status on the one hand but, on the other hand, they are greatly discriminated in criminal law.[78]

With the passing of the Qisas and Diyat Ordinance in 1990, the victim (or heirs of the victim) of a crime now have the right to inflict injuries on the offender identical to the ones sustained by the victim. The law also allows offenders to absolve themselves of the crime by paying compensation to the victim or their heirs. In the already existing system of bribery and corruption, it gives free hand to the people with money.[79] The Human Rights activists rightly say that in effect this means, that rich people can get away even with willful murder.

The interpretation of the Shariah Act of 1991 has been challenged by the Federal Shariat Court. Sections 3(2) and 19 of the Act, which safeguard the existing political system and the country's financial obligations (including interest payments), have been declared un-Islamic by the FSC because of the riba (interest) involved. In its ruling of January 1992, [ the FSC ruling was actually passed in November 1991, but the 50-page document giving court's opinion was circulated to bankers and government officials in January 1992.] the Court held that rules and regulations relating to interest were repugnant to the Quran and Sunnah and should be brought in accordance with Islam. This ruling was embarrassing to the government, while on the one hand they wanted to satisfy the traditionalists, on the other hand the ruling was not in accordance with the government's international obligations. A private appeal was thus lodged with the Supreme Court against the FSC decision. Other rulings of the FSC in 1992 included one stating that the country's system of employment quotas was un-Islamic, as was the charging of court fees.[80]

Women became the special victims of Islamization of law and its inconsistencies. The Zina Ordinances, which have been particularly discriminatory against women, continued to be law despite all the demands from women's organization. [See Chapter VIII for detailed discussion.) As always, the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961 is continuously under challenge. In 1992, there was an interesting case in the Supreme Court where the court declared Section 7 of the ordinance to be against Islam.[81]

The government of Benazir Bhutto is now promoting Pakistan as a moderate Islamic state. A booklet published by the Ministry of Information -- entitled, Pakistan: a moderate Islamic state -- acknowledges that "from late 1970s to mid-1980s, Pakistan often found itself specially featuring in (western media) despatches about "Islamic Fundamentalism," an expression depicting religious intolerance. The despatches brought out Pakistan as an irrational society suppressing minorities, contemptuous of human rights, treating women as inferior and generally living inside a cocoon of faith debarring contemporary compellings. Such negative references have not been totally abandoned but their frequency has considerably declined in the last about ten years. Some recent developments recreated misgivings vis-a-vis fundamentalism in Pakistan as blasphemy erupted as an issue. However, a superior court restored the confidence of the people in the state's commitment to a learned approach. The court's objective and dispassionate handling of the case has re-emphasized an enlightened approach which is further sustained by the government's negotiations and consultations with leaders of religious political parties and scholars to affect amendments in the existing laws on blasphemy to incorporate safeguards against exploitation of any segment of the population.

In May 1995, the federal cabinet approved two amendments in the blasphemy law -- i.e. article 295-C of Pakistan Penal Code. The amendments stipulate ten years' prison term for instituting a false blasphemy charge against anyone and forbids registration of any First Information Report (FIR) on this count without a preliminary investigation by a judicial officer, not below the rank of deputy commissioner, as to the veracity of the allegation. However, the proposal met severe resistance from religious and other groups. The Provincial Assembly of the Punjab passed a resolution against the proposal on May 4, 1995. This was the second resolution of the Punjab Assembly on the issue. On April 20, 1994, the Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution urging the federal government to maintain the blasphemy law as such. On June 29, 1995, the Provincial Assembly of Baluchistan also passed unanimously a similar resolution.

The government has now deferred its decision to bring the bill, to amend the blasphemy law, before parliament since it was not in a position to pass the legislation. In the meantime, the government has instituted administrative changes to the procedures for filing blasphemy charges. Formerly, individuals could be charged with blasphemy if any individual filed an FIR with the police. Now, formal charges cannot be levied until a magistrate has investigated the allegations and determined that they were credible under the law.

The US Assistant Secretary of state, Robin Raphel, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations sub-committee, on March 7, 1996, said that the United States recognize that the religious parties in Pakistan have "street power" and not "ballot power" and this is a major constraint for the Benazir Bhutto's government to repeal blasphemy laws. She revealed that more than 150 blasphemy cases have been lodged in Pakistan since 1986. Most of these have been brought against members of the Ahmadi community. None of the cases against Ahmadis have resulted in convictions. During the same period, at least nine cases have been brought against Christians and nine against Muslims. There have been convictions in some of these cases, but no one has been executed under the law's mandatory death penalty. Some convictions have been overturned and several individuals are currently appealing their convictions.[82]

The Lahore High Court, on February 22, 1995, acquitted Salamat Masih and Rehmat Masih from blasphemy charges. They were sentenced to death by a Sessions Judge on February 9, 1995, for allegedly writing blasphemous word on the wall of a mosque in 1993. The death sentence was quickly overturned following an international uproar. During the appeal hearings there were almost daily demonstrations by small religious groups demanding that the sentence should be carried out. After the judgment, religious groups observed a protest day throughout Pakistan to protest against the acquittal.

The year 1995 also witnessed a ghastly incident of religious frenzy, when Dr. Sajjad Farooq, was beaten to death by people outside a police station in Gujranwala. He was declared an apostate and accused of having desecrated the Holy Quran. Dr. Farooq, who was later reported by the press to be a staunch Muslim, was dragged out from the police station where he was lodged and stoned to death by frenzied mobs. On the basis of a rumor, apparently circulated by someone out of personal enmity, through loud-speakers of the mosques in his locality he was proclaimed to be a Christian. While religious fanaticism of one sort or another has tended to manifest itself in Pakistan in occasional incidents from time to time, many in the country are now beginning to regard it almost as sacrosanct. The so-called Islamization of Pakistan during late General Ziaul Haq's regime has imbued the fanatics with a spirit of self-righteousness which can only be regarded as alarming in any civilized society.[83]

Islam, which should have served to unite the people of Pakistan -- over 90 percent of them being Muslims -- has been, and is being, misused to divide them into mutually hostile sectarian groups and to divert their attention from basic social and economic problems.[84] The myth of popular support for religious parties has repeatedly been exploded by the electorate. Yet, sectarian and religious hate mongers have proliferated.[85] Major parties are courting leaders of religious parties, while latter's militias continue fanning the flames of sectarianism.[86] The only all-Pakistan force that seems to be growing uniformly is sectarianism.


We have not been successful at nation-building because we failed miserably at state-building. A desperate people cannot be made into a solid and cohesive community if the governments which supposedly represent their interests are themselves riddled with contradictions and ill intentions. Consequently, in nearly half a century of our existence we could not create a Pakistani nation. Our rulers are as much responsible for the suppression and distortion of the political process as for the loss of that sense of belonging essential for the survival of a country. They divided the community. People no longer belong to Pakistan but to a Biradari or a tribe. Their allegiance is to some religious sect and they think only in terms of themselves and their families. We see greater benefits by being Pathans, Sindhis, Balochis, Punjabis and Mohajirs, rather than being respectable Pakistanis.

Hatred has taken hold so much that those people who opted for Pakistan and fled their homes and who by the stroke of destiny did not find their way to West Pakistan but, instead, found their way to East Pakistan and who are unfortunately locked there, are not welcomed in their chosen country.[87] The diplomacy of divide and rule is still the axis of our ruling elite's thinking. We have not learnt to be Pakistani and only Pakistanis, to share our bread together as brothers with justice and fairness for the good of our homeland.

Our governance has been reduced merely to privilege, self and propaganda, de-linking power from responsibility and confusing opportunism with leadership. The major political parties, the PPP and PML(N), are merrily engaged in playing a game of musical chairs vying with each other in relentless quest for political power, and more importantly, for access to the financial bonanza which goes with it. The two parties represent narrow social and economic interests: the PPP has become the main organization representing the interests of the landed aristocracy while the PML (N) represents mainly the Punjab-and-Frontier-based big business and industry. None of them represent the aspirations of our country's heterogeneous society. The criminalization of politics and the insatiable greed and unscrupulous ambitions of our politicians has eroded public faith in not only the country's political leadership but also in the democratic system itself. The present system of governance threatens to remain so for a millennium if a revolution does not overtake it. According to Chief Justice Aziz Ahmadi of India,[88] the citizen cannot be expected to wait for the system to correct itself; he will and can be expected to take upon himself the task of enforcing the rights granted to him by the constitution.

There is a risk that Pakistan -- which typifies what Gunnar Myrdal [89] calls a soft state because it lacks social discipline, it is high on promise and low on delivery -- will join the many countries in Africa and soon become one of the failed states. This risk draws closer every day. According to Shahid Javed Burki of the World Bank, the country is now left with no viable institutions, including that of the judiciary and "we are in danger of losing Jinnah's legacy."[90] "Given the impact of change, Pakistan could cease to exist in its sovereign nation-state form. With the approach of the twenty-first century, Pakistanis may at last find their elusive commonwealth, only it may not be the one envisaged by the nation's creators.[91]" It is time for our politicians, bureaucrats and intellectuals to rise to the occasion and ensure that the forecasts of Professor Ziring do not come true.[92] The real fear is that if things slide as they are doing, sometime early in the next century there may not be a State of Pakistan.[93] The Caretaker Prime Minister, Malik Meraj Khalid, referring to a UN report which stated that Pakistan would break into pieces in two decades, said that Pakistan does no longer exists ideologically. [94]