Courtesy: The News, Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dr Farrukh Saleem

Welcome to the ‘judicial cartel’. We have a banking cartel, a cement cartel, a sugar cartel, a steel cartel and a rental power cartel. Our czars are now sharpening their blades to deliver a brand-new cartel — the judicial cartel. O 170 million sheep, blades don’t cut other blades, these daggers are being sharpened for no one but you.

Just one Supreme Court isn’t enough; just one chief justice for 170 million isn’t enough. We need another Supreme Court and another chief justice, one with a waxen nose (the term ‘waxen nose’ was first used by Justice Bradley of the US Supreme Court and it means a ‘person who is pliant and easily influenced’). O people, haven’t you read the ‘Charter of Democracy’? Clause 4 under ‘Constitutional Amendments’ reads: “A Federal Constitutional Court will be set up to resolve constitutional issues, giving equal representation to each of the federating units, whose members may be judges or persons qualified to be judges of the Supreme Court, constituted for a six-year period. The Supreme and High Courts will hear regular civil and criminal cases. The appointment of judges shall be made in the same manner as for judges of the higher judiciary.”

O people, a Supreme Court toothless, blunted and neutered (from Latin, ‘of neither sex’). O people, a Constitutional Court with a waxen nose. Can sheep smell a rat?

Next, the sugar cartel. Mian Nawaz Sharif is the sweetest of all our sugar daddies. His kith and kin, his immediate plus his extended family collectively own Abdullah Sugar, Brothers, Chanar, Chaudhry, Haseeb Waqas, Ittefaq, Kashmir, Ramzan and Yousaf; that’s a total of nine.

Our second-most sweet sugar daddy must be left unnamed because his near and dear ones till most of his vineyards and love — as you know — knows all hidden paths. Hidden by dust, ashes and snow are Sakrand Sugar, Ansari, Mirza, Bachani and Pangrio. That’s a total of five but only thaw can reveal what has been hidden by snow.

Of the 41 sugar mills in Punjab at least 20 are owned by politicians of the PML-N and PML-Q. Chaudhry Shujaat, his kith and kin, his immediate plus his extended family collectively owned four sugar mills (there has been talk that Chaudhry sahib has sold his sugar mills and diversified into milk). Humayun Akhter, his kith and kin, his immediate plus his extended family collectively own Kamalia, Tandlianwalla, Miran and Layyah. This year every man, woman and child in this country must cough out an additional Rs550 so that the sugar cartel can make an additional Rs80 billion; a billion per mill.

Next, the banking cartel that pays five or six per cent to depositors but charges 18 to 36 per cent on loans. On November 5, 2007, the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) took suo motu notice (CCP was established on October 2, 2007). On April 10, 2008, the CCP imposed a penalty of Rs30 million on Pakistan Banks’ Association and Rs25 million on seven banks (the PBA obtained a stay order from the SHC).

Next, the cement cartel with 21 members. On May 8, 2003, the cartel sat and hatched a scheme — all in writing — to rip off everyone who uses cement in this country. In 2008, the CCP took suo moto action. On August 27, 2009, the CCP imposed a penalty of Rs6.3 billion — equivalent to 7.5 per cent of the turnover. On September 4, the CCP chairman was served a termination notice.

Ever wondered why cartels are rich and three out of four Pakistanis make an equivalent of $2 a day? Our rulers are in love with cartels; they think cartels are beautiful. Remember, if Jack’s in love, he’s no judge of Jill’s beauty.

The writer is the executive director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS).

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