A society loses its identity when criminals become idols. The concept of right or wrong is reinforced by rewarding those who adhere to the path of principles and laws and punishing those who stray away from this path. That is known as the system of accountability which acts as a check and balance on keeping humans aligned to their mission of being above other creations. Pakistan’s decline on many fronts is attributed to the decline in its identity and its value system. Identity and value systems are collectively formed in a society where role models inspire a certain behaviour and conduct. The role of political leaders, sports celebrities and artists is fundamental in creating a base of followers that in turn create standards of character in the social and moral fabric of communities.

Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, Chairman NAB, on his farewell function was given a Guard of Honour. A man who has become a symbol of all that ails this country is busy attending his farewell parties and is being bestowed honours and accolades. His credentials and performance have been indisputably declared by the highest of forums as poor, biased, illegal, unethical, immoral and disgraceful. Not just the Panama Papers case but in every single case that has come in court involving illegal appointments in NAB, plea bargains, corruption, all judges have been shocked and disgusted by the man’s apparent ability to be completely oblivious of the shame being heaped on him.

The remarks of the Supreme Court judges make an interesting study. Judges normally remark on deviation from laws but in the case of the present NAB’s head, their remarks are scathing bordering on barely concealed disgust and frustration. In the case of Mushtaq Raisani, finance secretary of Baluchistan, being caught with cash over flowing from his cupboards and drawers and being given a plea bargain of a mere Rs 2 billion for corruption of Rs 40 billion, Justice Faez Isa was aghast at this “concession”. The court asked the Chairman to read Section 25 of the NAO, which requires him to provide detailed reasons for granting a plea bargain, and deplored that the bureau did not want to follow the law. What were the peculiar circumstances that compelled NAB to allow a plea bargain in this case, the court asked the Chairman and said this plea bargain could become the basis of a disciplinary action against him. “Why does NAB always find it difficult to come out with the truth,” Justice Isa wondered. “The bureau has, in fact, sold out the country,” he said.

The above remarks are just a peep into what all has been said by the judges about the Chairman and the institution that he has been running. The remarks given in the Panama Papers case are historical and have declared Mr Qamar Zaman as a promoter of corruption rather than a preventer of corruption. Justice Azamt Saeed in his judgement wrote “the Chairman, NAB shamelessly defended the decision of not filing an appeal. Interestingly, appeals are filed by the NAB before this court in routine but not in this case. We believe that a population census is in progress. It is expected that the population of Pakistan would be more or less 200 million. If out of the 200 million people of Pakistan the only person, we can find to head the premier anti-corruption institution is respondent no.2 (NAB chairman), we might as well legalize corruption”.

These are not passing remarks but part of recorded judgements. Despite that, Qamar Zaman is being garlanded and given guard of honour for his “sterling services” in NAB. This reflects two tragic ironies of our system and society; a system that is made and twisted to suit those who bend and break the law, and a society that bows to the position and power no matter how ill-gotten it is. Such instances of “honouring” the wrong doers catch more headlines than people who are adhering to ethics and values. This deep-rooted respect for the quick buck rich and famous has actually disturbed the identity of our youth who hear something else in their homes but see something else all around them. That is why when Ayyan Ali, who was caught laundering half a million dollar on the airport got away from jail, she was invited by Karachi University as a motivational speaker on a student function. Sharjeel Memon who was involved in billions of rupees of corruption was crowned on his return to Pakistan.

To be fair the media and judges have been playing their part in highlighting these anomalies. However what is still missing is the punishment and degradation of such unethical figures to give credence and substance to the concept of values and supremacy of rule of law. The judicial system blames the ancient laws and terrible prosecution system that conveniently makes evidence disappear, witnesses back out and influence prevail, making court orders more of a filing of another document rather than indictment of crime.

That is why the present references against the Sharif family are being looked with interest and curiosity. An ex-Prime Minister is appearing in these court proceedings with VVIP protocol on public expense and all we can do is create media uproar. More appallingly the Present Finance Minister who has now been rapped with criminal charges is neither resigning nor being fired. He has been unable to explain his own rise in finances from Rs9.11 million to Rs831.70 million - which is an increase of 91 times. Most skeptics think that if these cases could not harm this family for 20 years, in all probability they will be filed in the same lawless political dungeon. Others think that the time for reform has finally come. Whichever thought and action prevails will decide the social and moral interpretation what our future generation will understand as being honour versus dishonour.


The writer is a consultant, coach, analyst and a politician.