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Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Chaudhry brothers own assets beyond means; how did they launder money?

Chaudhry brothers laundered a huge amount of money, NAB tells LHC. Notably, Shujaat Hussain and his family had assets worth Rs 2.1 million in 1985 but amazingly the assets jumped to over Rs 518.4 million in 2019. Do Chaudhary brother owe their voters an explanation?

As the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is facing tough questions from the Supreme Court of Pakistan for filing references against politicians on weak grounds, the anti-corruption watchdog has claimed that Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, allies of the ruling party, allegedly laundered a huge amount of money abroad through five fake accounts. As the NAB accuses that Chaudhry brothers own assets beyond known means, there is a question whether the former shall offer any explanation to the public or not.

According to a report submitted by NAB to the Lahore High Court in assets beyond means case, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and his family had assets worth Rs 2.1 million in 1985 but amazingly the assets jumped to over Rs 518.4 million in 2019. He also accumulated properties worth Rs 123 million while his sons provided over Rs 1.5 billion loans to their own companies. Rs581 million transferred to the accounts of Shujaat’s sons from abroad but they failed to provide money trail, said the report.

Chaudhry Pervez Elahi also accumulated properties worth Rs 250 million and his family received Rs 978 million from abroad through unnamed accounts.

Earlier on June 17, the Lahore High Court (LHC) had directed the NAB to submit comments on petitions filed by PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi. An LHC bench headed by Justice Sardar Ahmed Naeem had heard the petitions challenging the powers of NAB chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal.

Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi is the Speaker of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab. He has been a member of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab since August 2018. He served as the first and only Deputy Prime Minister of Pakistan in 2013. After a successful campaign in the 2002 general elections, he became the Chief Minister of Punjab Province and tenured until 2007. In 2008, he served as the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly of Pakistan for a short time. He was a member of the National Assembly from 2008 to May 2018.

Read More: Analysis: Are Chaudhry brothers going to part ways with the PTI government?

Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain served as the 16th Prime Minister of Pakistan from 30 June 2004 on a temporary basis during a transitional period to accommodate Shaukat Aziz till 28 August 2004 Hussain has been party president of the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) since 2003, when he had followed party founder Mian Muhammad Azhar because of his lack of a parliamentary seat.

Chaudhry brothers own assets beyond means: any explanation? 

Chaudhary brothers are yet to respond to the accusations but they are likely to maintain a popular narrative that “the matter shall be decided by the courts”.

There is a popular political argument in this country that politicians be it from the opposition or treasury generally respond to these corruption allegations saying “go to the court and prove it if you have any evidence”, noted Dr. Moeed Pirzada in his Vlog. We all know, he continued, these cases are already in the courts and some people have been arrested (Salman Shehbaz declared proclaimed absconder and Hamza Shehbaz is in the custody of the NAB) but their politics is going on in an uninterrupted way.

Pakistan’s criminal justice system (police, investigation teams, laws and courts) are not capable enough to convict any politically influential men in the country. Historically, there has been no such precedent where the criminal justice system might have convicted a person on solid grounds. “In this system, the powerful have money and other resources to hire top-class lawyers and get out of the situation on the basis of legal technicalities and loopholes,” he said.

Notably, democracy is a system of governance that assumes and attempts to foster, an objective idea of self-accountability. In a democracy, leaders are expected to be accountable before the people, not before the courts. However, in the case of Pakistan, observes Dr. Pirzada, media does not play an effective role and political culture promotes nepotism. Consequently, Pakistani democracy did not evolve up to a point where public office holders consider themselves to be answerable before the public.

Read More: What did Ch. Pervez Elahi offer to Maulana Fazlur Rehman to end protest in Islamabad?

Furthermore, Dr. Pirzada explained that a public office holder, who comes into power after seeking public support and votes, is different from an ordinary person or a businessman. “A public office holder is someone who gets votes and assumes the office with a promise to safeguard the interests of an entire community. He also promises not to work for his own family or loved ones while being in the office,” he said.

A public office holder, chief minister or prime minister, through his policies and decisions, controls the fate of the entire community, therefore, he is morally responsible to explain his position if there are some questions about his professional integrity.

As the NAB maintains that Chaudhry brothers own assets beyond known means, it is yet to be seen whether the like Sharif brothers decide not to explain their position before the public or give a detailed money trail to all and sundry to maintain the basic ideal of democracy; self-accountability.