Wednesday, August 1, 2012
The Wayward Son of Chief Justice
August 1, 2012
By Saeed Qureshi
My reference is to Dr. Arsalan Iftikhar, the flamboyant, fun-loving son of the incumbent iconic chief justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. He keeps exuding an innocent, mystifying, and perhaps mocking smile against all odds and afflictions that he is faced with. Is he a moron or a carefree individual or suffering from autism as to put the harsh realities at the tip of his shoes? He is devious and brazenly denies any wrong doing.
His face reflects a tinge of mockery or a disdain and non-challant reaction to what was happening to him. Because of his propensity for royal life with dirty money, the sparkling reputation of his illustrious father has been eclipsed. Of all the persons his own son has joined the league of outlaws he is trying to fix and bring to justice.
Malik Riaz Hussain the arch and inimitable Machiavellian crook of Pakistan, made no bones in revealing his largesse and slush money that he willingly spent on this juvenile and incorrigible show boy to ostensibly rope him for slandering his father. His distinguished father is dispensing justice with courage and conviction to mighty and low, to unsavory characters and reprobate whose past time has been to enhance their lives, fortunes and power, at the expense of the people and the country.
There is always an “Achilles Heel” that humbles and debilitates even the most invulnerable. That proverbial weak spot was handy in the person of Dr. Arsalan to help Malik Riaz Hussain and his ilk to plug in an anti- chief justice tirade as if to explode a bombshell in the crowded square. He disclosed that he gave 34 crores in cash to Arsalan besides spending another one and half core on his foreign excursion tours.
Now this elephantine case being adjudicated by a bench of leading justices seems to be losing its steam. The dialogues that take place in court room between the justices and the alleged felons and their counsels looks like stage dramas. As a result, the essence of the cases strays away and loses its punch and rudder. What happens in a country like Pakistan is that even the most proven and slam-dunk cases go awry and the accused are exonerated because the witnesses go back on their previous statements.
Ostensibly the poor and weak witnesses are either bribed or threatened to change their statements by the powerful thugs arraigned before the courts. The case of PML-N, MNA Anjum Aqeel Khan and 15 others is a testimony to this sordid game. A local court in Islamabad acquitted the main culprit along with other 15 hooligans because the witnesses including the police personnel changed their previous anti-accused statements in favor of the felonious bunch.
In the wake of Arsalan’s highly distinctive case, Malik Riaz Hussain has been amending his previous statement and stances. For instance he denied his own claim that he has handed out big sums of money to the leading journalists of Pakistan. As a cunning businessman, he might have gauged that his sinister plan to browbeat chief justice through his son went awry. He now may even recalibrate his earlier statement and even evidence that he ever tried to blackmail the intrepid chief justice through his son. He may even renege on the of-repeated claims that he ever bribed Arsalan or sponsored his glamorous tours.
But would these retailored ploys and redrafted stances would mollify the justices and they would accordingly ignore his earlier statements and accept the lately contrived as credible to release him from legal noose? Ostensibly the whole episode when seen objectively was to compel the chief justice to go lenient on the gubernatorial cases pending against the government functionaries and others, although the chief justice is not made of mettle to be cowed down.
The entire insidious plot was carefully crafted aimed at manipulating combustible court decisions with regard to several prodigious cases. First the chief justice’s son was given enormous bribe besides financing his costly foreign luxury tours one of which was in Monte Carlo. The videos were meticulously prepared and then the episode was deliberately floated. Instead that the chief justice should have budged, he issued a suo moto notice thus putting the entire conspiracy in reverse gear.
Now Dr. Arsalan’s lawyer Sardar Muhammad Ishaq Khan have tried to rescue his clients by injecting the ploy of procedural wrangling and raising certain objections which might dilute or delay the verdict on the case. Through a legal notice on behalf Dr. Arsalan, he has questioned the impartiality and legal standing of the NAB chairman Admiral (R) Fasih Bukhari to probe the case. He alleged that the former naval chief and now the head of NAB and his family have had close relationship with Malik Riaz Hussain.
He has also objected to the role of the attorney general, by pleading that he has overstepped his mandate given by the Supreme Court by referring the matter to NAB for investigation. He did so, the counsel alleged, because of his bias against the Chief Justice of Pakistan.
With such roadblocks created by the defense counsel, the case might linger in for longer period of time and consequently fizzle out. Several high profile cases such as NRO and writing letter to Swiss authorities, Memogate, the Hajj case, the rental power cases and many others are caught up in the gridlock of procedural formalities or delaying pretexts by the accused parties.
However, in case of grafts and kickbacks, a receiver should be held more culpable and liable than the giver. A graft giver could be an honest person who might be so hard-pressed and sternly blackmailed to grease the palms of the manipulators to save his skin. Malik Riaz, the erstwhile chairman of the fabulous Behria Town housing project and otherwise a noted philanthropist, might have, on his own or at the behest of someone, entrapped and allured the young and glamour crazy Dr. Arsalan. By offering huge amounts of money to Arsalan the underlying objective could also be to stigmatize the chief justice as not being clean-handed.
Chaudhry Shujjat the president of PML (Q) in a recent statement lauded Malik Riaz's various social and humanitarian services one of which was paying Rs 13 crores as ransom money for the release of Pakistanis captured by Somali pirates.