JIT report submitted in the Supreme Court in regards to the detection of fake bank accounts, money laundering , the modus operandi, the network used for the purpose and the identification of the persons involved in the systematic corruption using their political power and influence is simply flabbergasting. It establishes the connection of the former President Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur with the unprecedented corruption through bribery and kick-back as well as also identifies the creditors to the fake accounts. It is contended that the former President and his sister made Rs.42 billion in kick-backs and commissions and laundered them through 29 fake accounts. The report also talked about undeclared 120 farm houses owned by Zardari and his sister and a number of hitherto unknown properties in New York, Paris, London and Paris. That is not all. The JIT has also made requests to some other international jurisdictions under the Mutual Legal Assistance law. The JIT reportedly has recommended filing of 16 references by NAB against all the persons identified in the mega-corruption scandal after proper investigations. What has been unearthed so far might only be the tip of the ice-berg. The facts laid bare in the JIT report give credence to the persistent claims made by Prime Minister Imran Khan about involvement of Asif Ali Zardari in massive corruption and looting the national wealth.

It is pertinent to point out that echoes of Zardari connection with Ayan Ali case were also heard when she was caught smuggling 5 million dollars out of the country at Islamabad airport. The customs officer who caught Ayan Ali was later murdered and the mystery of his assassination still remains unresolved. Most anodyne observers and analyst believed that the murder was a sequel to the case against Ayan Ali. The JIT report also mentions Ayan Ali lending currency to the already existing perception.

Asif Ali Zardari has a reputation of being the most corrupt politician ever since he emerged on the political scene which even earned him the epithet of ‘Mr. ten percent’. Reputations are not the figment of one’s imagination. They are like a proverbial smoke that indicates existence of fire. The PML (N) government and Musharraf filed cases of corruption against him but those could not be established in the court of law because they were framed as a weapon of political vendetta rather than out of a serious and sincere initiative to rope in the corrupt people and to ensure across the board accountability. They lacked credibility and the party and its leaders could conveniently claim it as a political victimization of Asif Ali Zardari. That is the reason there were a lot many takers of that view.

However it is for the first time in the history of Pakistan that an honest and serious attempt seems to have been made and noose tightened against Zardari and his cohorts. Though the PPP reacting to the revelations made in the report has termed it a consequence of nexus between the government and JIT but this time there are very few takers of that rhetoric because of the involvement of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, particularly the Chief Justice. The JIT was formed on the orders of the CJ and not the government. The stand taken by the PPP actually is tantamount to casting aspersions at the integrity and impartiality of the Chief Judge of the country.

The PPP may not be able to get away by using the old rhetoric of victimisation. This initiative taken by the CJ might prove to be the harbinger of a real process of accountability of the corrupt elements, politicians and powerful persons who have been escaping the dragnet due to myriad of infirmities in the prosecution process and system of justice. The CJ has vowed to personally oversee the campaign against corrupt and looters of the national wealth and one could not doubt his intentions and commitment in taking the work initiated by him to its logical end.

Corruption is generally defined as misuse of entrusted power or authority by the elected politicians or appointed civil servants for private gains. It usually entails embezzlement of funds, nepotism, kickbacks, bribery as well as deliberate attempts to perpetuate a system with inbuilt avenues of corruption, graft and entitlement. Corruption has many forms but the major cause of concern are the systemic corruption and political corruption which germinate other forms of corruption that eat into the social and economic fiber of a country besides generating social tensions and hampering its economic progress. The phenomenon has been the bane of socio-economic development of Pakistan.

It is hoped that the accused would be afforded due opportunity to defend themselves and prove their innocence as per the law and constitution which is their legitimate right. It is beyond any doubt that our political as well as military rulers have indulged in reckless corruption and misuse of authority for personal and political gains because of the non-existent mechanism of across the board accountability. It is therefore imperative to ensure accountability of all those who have been involved in corruption to remove the impression of selective accountability and a witch-hunt often propagated by the accused and in the present case by the PPP. The CJ might also look at the prospect of forming a JIT for investigating all those named in the Panama report as well as the expeditious disposal of the corruption cases against other politicians languishing in the courts for a long time.

The revelations made in the JIT also necessitate reforms in the archaic system of governance, a legacy of the colonial era, which has promoted the culture of graft, entitlement and corruption. Corruption cannot be eliminated by making example out of few individuals but through a system of governance which minimises and plugs the avenues of corruption and has a fool-proof mechanism of across the board accountability. The country has suffered enough to afford further continuation of bad governance. The Politicians belonging to all hues and loyalties, the parliament and all stakeholders in the prosperous future of the country need to get together in the crusade against corruption and reforming the system that breeds it. PTI has a declared agenda of weeding out corruption and bringing the corrupt to the book. The onus of initiating the reforms, to a great extent, rests with it. I am sure the masses who are sick and fed up with the rampant corruption and are yearning for a change would back any genuine and honest effort in that regard. Other political parties who at least publically agree in principle to across the board accountability will also have to prove their credentials as sincere proponents of elimination of corruption by participating in the process of reforms. Elimination of corruption is a national cause and cannot be left hostage to the political expediencies.

The writer is a political analyst.

Reputations are not the figment of one’s imagination. They are like a proverbial smoke that indicates existence of fire.