In a matter of days, the allegations of the real estate tycoon Malik Riaz against Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, son of the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, has taken on the hue of a full blown conflict between the accuser and the judiciary. In shocking but unsubstantiated accusations of a bribe amounting to Rs 340 million, and financing of lavish foreign trips, the Riaz claim, notwithstanding its yet to be proved veracity, points to the most important judicial body’s head. The accused is the son of the CJP, thus presenting a more than unpleasant scenario where the establishment of proper distance between the two parties — the accused and the CJP — must be maintained at all costs. A simple civil matter (with possible criminal implications), no matter how preposterous or outrageous it may appear, did not merit a suo motu notice by the Supreme Court (SC), the redundancy of which was proved during the first hearing for lack of concrete evidence. This case must be pursued through the normal course. The recusing of the honourable CJP from the initial bench is a positive step, and the future proceedings of the case would be transparent and unbiased too if the consideration that the accused is the son of the CJP is not allowed to influence the proceedings.
Pakistan: the sausage factory is becoming dangerously transparent
The latest scandal in Pakistan involves the leading business tycoon of the country spending (he claims) 340 million rupees on the son of the chief justice of Pakistan. Said tycoon Riaz Malik used to be a struggling contractor who hit paydirt with high-end housing colonies named “Bahria colony” (the name means “navy”…and some admirals are said to have sold him access to that name and the authority of Pakistan’s smallest armed force). Now one of the richest men in the country, Malik Riaz has been profiled in this documentary by TV anchor Sohail Warraich.
Suggested names for this scandal include “bahriagate”, “familygate” and, more originally (from lawyer Feisal Naqvi) “liti-gate”! Conspiracy theorists are busy trying to figure out if this whole thing was orchestrated by the army (unhappy over the chief justice’s asking questions about missing persons in Balochistan) or by Zardari or by the CIA and Mossad and RAW.
But whatever the details, one thing is clear to an outside observer. The walls of the sausage factory are becoming dangerously transparent. 11 retired generals work for Malik Riaz. Many admirals and generals smoothed his path to wealth. Many journalists are being accused of being on his payroll. And its not just this scandal. The son of the prime minister is accused of smuggling controlled substances. The brother of the almighty army chief is being targeted in a whispering campaign. Secret agencies, hidden camera videos, trips to Monte Carlo with mysterious women…its all out in the open or threatening to come out. All this has happened in other countries (well, maybe some of it has). but times are tough, the economy may tank, the security establishment has got itself into a fight with its traditional American patrons. There was never a real national ideology behind the claptrap taught in 6th grade. What will hold the center? These things can get out of hand.