Another terrific piece by Shaheen Sehbai
A Tragic Day of Reckoning for PPP, Zardari and BB’s kids, if They Love their Mom ....
BENAZIR Bhutto, a leader, a symbol of courage and iron nerves, will be watching from the high skies today if whatever she did and achieved, wherever she failed and whatever she left behind, will ever be understood and practiced by her kids, her widower husband and her millions of followers.
Musharraf released him in 2004 and she banned him from either returning to Pakistan or interfere with her party politics.
Zardari was allowed only to entertain his friends, some journalists like me, Masood Haider, Murtuza Solangi and a few others, inviting them to his Madison Avenue Apartment or serve wine and dinner at the Lebanese restaurant just below that apartment building, show off his money and talk smilingly, while a 6-foot AfricanAmerican body guard/secretary would stand outside on the road in the chilly New York weather and his 6-foot long black pet dog, would wait for him in the apartment.
Benazir could never have imagined or believed that her death would be used by Zardari in a manner which would alienate her millions of followers and lovers and reduce her party to a fraction of its actual size.
She would never have imagined that after her death Zardari would use the sympathy, clout and power acquired because of her murder to build up the craziest money network of crooks, scamming billions out of the country, creating banks, accounts, contracts, kickbacks, recycling this loot back into Pakistan to buy sugar mills, plazas, thousands of acres of government land, handing it over to his own partners like Riaz Malik and Anwar Majeed.
Luckily for Pakistan all this was unearthed and exposed by a team of civil servants and officers who worked overtime and dug deep to find facts that will now be extremely hard for Zardari to disprove, no matter how many top but unethical lawyers like Farooq Naik, Sardar Khosa, Aitzaz Ahsan etc. split hair in courts and try to use flaws in the laws, technical points to prove nothing has happened.
Not a soul in the country and the world, except may be a couple of paid judges, if at all, may believe these defense stories.
But while Zardari will go to the very end to save himself, threatening secession, blockade of roads, crippling the economy, regional hatred and violence, bashing the courts and the army, Benazir will be tremendously sorry if her son and daughters, who have a future in Pakistan politics provided they stay away from the cancer that their father has spread, also fall in line like the many otherwise not-so-big leaders, petty money makers (Sherry Rehman, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Aitzaz Ahsan, Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, Choudhry Manzoor, plus plus).
On this day today, Zardari is in such a corner he is observing and speaking on Benazir tragic death anniversary but he is only trying to save his loot and plunder which now stands badly exposed . Given the example of Nawaz Sharif, he stands no chance of getting away this time. I have not named many PPP leaders like Rehman Malik, Dr Asim Hussain, Dr Qayyum Soomro, Syed Khurshid Shah, Pir Mazhar, Murad Ali Shah, Fehmida Mirza (now with PTI), Nisar Khurho, Syed Qaim Ali Shah and many others, who are under investigation and who have benefitted and helped Zardari cover up his crimes.
But as this sad day presents the biggest crisis for Benazir’s kids, specially Bilawal and the two daughters, who have been I believe coerced into submission by their father, I have to mention another big and huge scandal that is still lying hidden, under cover concerning Benazir, Zardari, Rehman Malik and these BB kids. Someone will soon have to dig into this and I believe the results would be as astonishing as the network unleashed by the Zardari JIT report.
Here is what it is. When Zardari was thrown out of her life, exiled in US, banned from talking or poking his fingers and nose, Benazir was quietly doing business with Rehman Malik and had set up joint partnership companies based in London for exporting and dealing in oil exports, Mr Malik’s main business out of London mainly in East Africa and Middle East. In these companies, Zardari was not a partner, not even allowed to talk about this business with BB. I know personally that Zardari hated Rehman Malik because of this and he would not even talk to him or even go to his Edgware Road apartment where BB held all her political meetings and awarded tickets to her party candidates, who slept in the small park and pavement outside in the circle to wait for her call. The oil trade had grown into hundreds of millions of dollars and at one stage the UN had even investigated and found this business shady in the programme of Saddam’s Iraq. Oil-for-Food In 2005 when Wajid Shamsul Hasan invited me and Masood Haider to his son’s wedding, (attended also by BB, Shahbaz Sharif and many others) Rehman Malik hosted all the events and paid all the bills.
One day he asked us (me and Masood Haider) to go and use his office in the basement of the Subway outlet on Edgware Road, if we needed to. We did that once and when I was sitting on his table, using his computer, I could see a stack of at least six business cards of Mr Malik on his table. All were oil companies and I picked up a card of each company just for record. I was told BB used that basement for party meetings. BB and Mr Malik jointly owned some of these six firms. The scandal that I was referring to earlier comes now.
When BB suddenly died, Rehman Malik, being the only partner became the sole owner and Zardari had no clue how much money was involved and what BB had left in the hands of Mr Malik. I know this was the first issue discussed by Zardari with Malik and he was offered the Home Ministry if he cooperated in sharing BB’s wealth with him.
No one knows what deal was reached and this has to be investigated but definitely the hundreds of millions of her share she left in those companies were the legal right of her kids, not her husband. Whether Bilawal, Bakhtawar or Assefa have got their rights is not known but Zardari and Rehman Malik reached a convenient deal, as demonstrated by events later.
The key agreement was that none of the heirs of Benazir should ever be allowed to file a suit in any British court to claim their right. If they did, the entire scandal will come out in the open and then it will be clear what had happened, if Zardari had paid off the kids, coerced them to be quiet or offered them enough to keep them pacified.
This will then be the biggest secret clause of the mysterious will that was produced by Rehman Malik in a matter of hours after BB’s death, handing over PPP to Zardari but mentioning nothing else. Now what followed after Benazir’s death, the unprecedented network of moving money around the world and pocketing national wealth has come out in the JIT Report, the soul of Benazir in the higher skies would be eagerly waiting for the next big secret to be out.
If her kids have compromised on her ideals, it would be a tragedy but now that the big thieves are being netted, it is just a matter of time Benazir would get the answer to all her concerns. May she rest in peace, but until those who abused her name and legacy are punished, this may not happen.