Throughout its history, Pakistan never moved into a pinching accountability mode. Now it has, with a degree of uncertainty and plenty of hope.

Already volume 10 of the report stands classified beyond the reason admitted. It probably holds the key to massive seas of corruption that were not in the ambit of the questions asked by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Now that the apex court has taken the responsibility, it must continue to exercise its powers under Article 190 of the Constitution to act as the savior Pakistan missed through the past seven decades. Given that politics and crime are intertwined in Pakistan’s political economy, the apex court is the only institution that can exercise neutrality and objectivity. It must dig out corruption, initiate accountability cases against the guilty and ensure that justice is dispensed.  The spirit of this McCarthyism lies in the NAB Ordinance.

For readers, McCarthyism originated with President Truman’s Executive Order 9835 which required all federal civil service employees be screened for loyalty to the Constitution of USA.  One criterion used in determining was membership in, affiliation with or sympathetic association with any organisation determined by the attorney general to be totalitarian, fascist, communist or subversive.

Anti-corruption Laws and National Accountability Ordinance were used selectively for political purposes. It is only after the Panama JIT Report that the tip of such politically motivated corruption, intrinsically linked to Pakistan’s economy, has begun to surface. If the JIT Report is the tip of the Sharif business empire, then imagine what would be revealed when other culprits of over 400 Panama list are investigated and where the tentacles lead to. Also in investigation should be all cases of plea bargain in NAB and those exonerated under NRO. Such a ruthless accountability will start paying dividends to Pakistan’s political economy instantly. In due course slippages of over 3 trillion rupees will start pouring into the national exchequer.

The findings and conclusions of JIT are startling. Even if 50% stand vindicated in courts of law, an entire business empire will be taken off the political and economic roster. Though the pro-Sharif camp will continue to attack the accountability drive, relentless perusal and punishment will be the first step in altering the political ethics and economic transparency. If pursued against hundreds of dons, it will clean up politics and institutions. Pakistan will no longer be a dependent state with a begging bowl.

Unlike Chief Justice Jamali (Retired), Chief Justice Saqib Nisar took two big risks in stride. First, he did not shy from an affirmative decision that ran the risk of an undetermined period of political instability and economic uncertainty. Secondly, he backed the JIT that opened a Pandora’s Box.  The issue now enters the most critical phase when defence argues against JIT, right of review and maybe an application for a larger bench. Based on its experience of 1997 and judge’s revolt, PML-N will rest its hopes on a larger bench that rules in favour and also impeaches pro JIT judges including Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, the next Chief Justice in line. So Chief Justice Saqib has to keep vigil over his own house as also ensure security of his fellow judges. He has no other choice but to move in the direction he chose. In case he succumbs, the daemons will return with more vengeance to suck last drops of blood from stones.

This also means that as the cases proceed, Pakistan’s regulatory and oversight mechanisms move in tandem to become more effective and responsive. Supreme Court decisions in these cases should then become the guidelines for new laws. As the accountability drive continues, all political appointments need to be removed to make place for credible merit.

As a case study of corruption, it would be interesting to recall how the three most important institutions linked to investigating Panama became toothless. The case below explains how Pakistan’s systems are manipulated for greed.

Beginning 2014, the Governor, State Bank of Pakistan Mr. Yasin Anwar resigned. The resignation reflected the politicisation and defanging of the regulatory role the central bank plays. The governor was under pressure from a large media group for resisting the acquisition of HSBC by JS Group. Mr Muhammad Ali, the Chairman and Commissioner of Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan also supported the stance of SBP. The third institution was NAB eager to open Hudaibya and all pending cases against the Sharif Empire. A media campaign began. Suddenly the Supreme Court awoke from slumber and declared the appointment of Chairman NAB and Mr. Muhammad Ali lacking due process. With them gone, Governor State Bank resigned. Handpicked Governor/Deputy Governor State Bank, Chairmen SECP and NAB were brought in. Hudaibya appeals were allowed to lapse and the business went on. A convict and money launderer got into State Bank and later became President of National Bank. This was just the beginning of making Pakistan a Sabzi Mandi. The same tactic was applied on all enforcement, regulatory and oversight mechanisms (The Nation, 1 February, 2014, Sinkhole of Corruption). This includes IB, FIA, Police, FBR, NAB, ECP and Competition Commission. Misuse of police and failure of the system to address the Model Town massacre begs justice. To ensure that Pakistan now becomes an economically competitive depends on the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

But the game of acquiring such institutions began much earlier. Now it is proven beyond doubt that foreign currency accounts allowed under the Economics Reforms Act 1992 had an ulterior motive of circulating ill-gotten wealth to build offshore businesses. Most trails of Hudaibya led through such accounts. It is only future investigations that shall determine the volume of such transactions by many other holders of 11 Billion US$ accounts that suddenly froze the day Pakistan went nuclear, not before the most privileged had withdrawn their money in a suspicious midnight operation. But essentially, such accounts still remain a money whitening scheme with no questions asked on buying dollars from the domestic market and depositing them in such accounts that act as hedge against devaluation and can easily be siphoned abroad to individuals and carriers. Ayan Ali is a case in point.

There is so much that needs to be done.

If the accountability McCarthyism continues, the Supreme Court will have to take a close look at the energy, sugar and livestock mafia in Pakistan. The three are interlinked by common interests. Of particular concern will be imports from India at the cost of Pakistan’s agriculture.

The Supreme Court will also need to investigate the economic crises of 2007, the sudden rise of Sugar and Atta cartels, OGRA and NEPRA. The net result will be trillions of rupees unfairly gained through deliberate manipulation of economy. PSO affairs will prove a case in point.

Agriculture that was always a backbone of the economy in the most difficult times is deteriorating. While research back home is discouraged, imported GM seeds are ruining farmers and environment. The malaise goes back to Zardari led PPP government. A case in point is the destruction of Idara e Kissan headed by late Dr Zafar Altaf and closing of Halla Milk cooperative. This will open a Pandora’s Box of pasteurized milk mafia.

The list goes on and on but let’s sees how the apex court handles the PML-N riposte. To handle this onslaught, ruthless McCarthyism must continue.