So what its just the NRO!

By: Agha Haider Raza

So the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) beneficiaries list comes out.  The media is happy that those persons who enjoyed taking advantage of the NRO have light casted upon them, while the government is trying to push forward the argument of how they have respected the Supreme Court’s judgment and have publicized the list.  It seems to be a win-win situation for all parties.  But is it really?  Calls for the resignation of ministries and portfolios have echoed from all corners.  How has this zero-sum game turned into a finger-pointing-name-calling battle?

As we all now know, the NRO was a ‘bail-out’ for politicians and businessmen, giving them a clean sheet.  This not only cleared the way for billions of rupees to be kept in the hands of defaulters, but also allowed plenty of politicians to get re-elected as their corruption charges were taken out of the court as well.  Though many readers would say that I am playing the ethnic card here, I’d like to know why 96% of the beneficiaries are Sindhi’s?  Secondly, if the PPP, claims itself to be a liberal-democratic party, why have they not asked for a majority vote on such a sensitive issue? After all, the billions of rupees that have been siphoned through this ordinance are Pakistani’s money, not the beneficiaries’.  Why should this debt be written off?

What I find more ironic though after following up on the July 31st Supreme Court verdict, and the publication of the NRO beneficiary names, is how no one wants to own up to actually using the advantages of this disgusting piece of legislation.  Prime Minister Gillani made a bold statement by openly declaring how he would tender his resignation if it could be proven that his wife was a beneficiary.  Our Minister for Defense has today also articulated that he has nothing to do with the NRO, while Pakistan’s High Commissioner in London Wajid Shamsul Hasan “feels hurt by mention of his name with reference to NRO beneficiaries”. Furthermore, the Presidents right-hand man, the quintessential wazir , Mr. Salman Faruqui has also articulated that has not taken any relief under the NRO and is an “innocent victim”.

Why the embarrassment, my respected statesmen? The Ordinance was drafted so that you could finally show your innocence to the rest of the nation.  If my understanding is correct, the NRO only cleared those cases that were “politically motivated”.  So if you have nothing to be ashamed about, since the cases were only initiated as a political vendetta, why bother if your name is found on the list?  I mean, here we are, having the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the world’s 38th most powerful man, offering to resign if his wife can be proven to have taken advantage of the NRO.  Mr. Prime Minister, if you are willing to go to such lengths and give up the most sought-out job in Pakistan, why not solve the problem, since you have obviously identified it?

Hopefully we won’t be seeing a repeat of the judicial crisis, which in the end only became a battle of egos. But alas, we have politicized yet another piece of legislation. Here we thought years of dictatorship would teach our Parliament a lesson, and they would, for once; listen to what the very people who elected them have to say.  The Chief Justice has given a half volley to the government by throwing the NRO ball in the court of the Presidency.  Either the President smacks it for six or is clean bowled. Rarely in politics is one given so many chances to redeem themselves, but here, President Zardari has been handed yet another a golden opportunity to side with the people of Pakistan and annul the NRO. One can only hope that the rumor of President Zardari using the powers given to him under Article 89 of promulgating ordinances will not become a reality.

Sacrificing for the greater good seems to be what is really required at this point.  Article 58 2(b) and the 17th Amendment are two other sensitive issues that require a Pakistani stance, not a Presidential one.  Frankly speaking President Zardari, no one is going to forget your title of Mr. 10 per cent, and although you may have never been convicted of corruption charges your money laundering stories will always remain tied to you.  But I can tell you this much Mr. President: if you become the bigger man, rise to the occasion and annul the NRO and bring accountability to Pakistan, you will get the political limelight you strive for, and Pakistan will get the honor it truly deserves!

4 responses to “So what its just the NRO!

  1. Unfortunately there is no such precedent in Pakistan since 1947, where a Minister resigns after loosing the credibility.
    I guess Ayub Khan was the first to quit after smelling the flow of Public Opinion.

  2. What can you expect from a self-conceited and unscurplous person? surrounded by chameleons alike.It requires very strong character to muster up moral courage to
    go public and to resign from a lucrative position- such courage has been shown by
    one beneficiary of NRO. Why have we allowed ourselves to be ruled by Pygmies of mental aptitude.Is it not time for the Public to it’s own strength and call for
    fresh elections for all posts of executive and legislative offices,

  3. This election was based on deals like NRO, under an illegal government and illegal judiciary with the open role of American foreign services with hand picked puppets, like BB, “LMQM”, ANP ethinic gang and NS.

  4. Well I think it is an appropriate demand given the situation we are in. I will answer you point wise.

    1) Law and order situation: I think Punjab and Sindh are ok at present. Even balochistan will do fine once all parties including nationalists are involved.In fact i think Balochistan should have fresh election as nationalsist, for their own reasons, bycotted in 2008.
    In NWFP elections can be held in areas which are stable ( abbotabad,Hazar, mansehra etc). In high risk area an election can be held later on under srtict security.BTW situation was not great in 2008 either when eelction were held and infact we saw a significant decrease in bombings in feb 2008 till Jun 2008.

    2) Whether PPP wins or not: Right now the reason for mid term elections is that present govt has failed to provide adequate governance and its higher ups are stuck in corruption cases along with a severe credibility crisis. If they win despite all in Sindh ( which I very much doubt), its peoples’ verdict. But even then their candidiates have to pass through the scrutiny and in the absence of NRO i am not sure how many present MPAs/MNAs will qualify.

    3) How will PPP govt fall if it does and whether a mid term will be conducted or not? : As far as I understand IK is not asking army to over throw the present setup. His demand is that govt, in face of ongoing corruption/credebility/misgovernance crisis should volunatrily resign. I do not think any political player including JI/PML Q are demanding army to take over. I aslo want ot mention that in all democracies when the an elected govt. gets unpopular they go for a mid term. If their high ups are found to be corrupt they resign. Unfortunately we only think of the 5 yr term as an absolute provision but do not realize other associated and equally important factors. This also leads us to another debate why Martial laws become successful and how we can develop saftey checks in our system to avoid any furture coups. Lets leave it for next time.

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