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PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. — Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: The reopening of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases implicating leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has raised many eye-brows, more so because the cases have been picked up four long years after the Pakistan People’s People (PPP) first took charge at the helm of affairs.

Not only has the PPP government woken up on NAB cases involving the Sharif family, Rehman Malik, advisor on interior, has also written to the Qatari government for extradition of Saifur Rehman, who headed the NAB during PMLN’s second government.

Mr Rehman currently resides in Qatar and recently claimed that he was in possession of documented evidence on Zardari’s bank deposits in Swiss banks, and proof against General Pervez Musharraf for his alleged involvement in major kickbacks.

Given that former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani throughout his tenure boasted of his record of not getting into political victimisation of his opposition, the key questions are: why has President Asif Ali Zardari chosen this particular point in time to move NAB against Sharif family, and more importantly what has prompted the PPP leadership to change its policy of political reconciliation towards the PML-N.While political observers are connecting the re-opening of NAB cases and extradition of Mr Rehman as part of the PPP government’s move against Sharif brothers, when Dawn spoke to senior politicians working with both parties, the reaction was mixed. Some explained that this belated move was a typical tactic in an election year whereby opposition parties are slandered by the government. Others thought it was part of President Zardari’s strategy to place pressure on the Sharif brothers to compel them to fall in line with his game plan for the next general elections.

“The Sharif brothers have this bad habit of panicking under pressure, which President Zardari knows quite well,” claimed a senior politician who has worked closely with Mian Nawaz Sharif, but is now sitting in the ruling coalition with the PPP, “the PMLN is threatened by the rising popularity level of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf in Punjab.”

To another question, he replied: “President Zardari wants the PPP government to complete its constitutional term, which ends in March next year, at all costs. He strongly believes that the NAB cases could be used as a plea bargain by the PPP leadership when it talks with the PML-N over the composition of the caretaker set-up.”

However, another high-level source within the PPP was quite candid in laying bare the rivalry behind the re-opening of NAB cases.

“It is payback time for the PML-N. For the last four years, officials and leaders from top to bottom of the PML-N have maligned the Bhutto family for its alleged corruption cases. Now, let’s have them face music,” he said on the condition of anonymity.

He then reasoned that this was to be expected given elections will be taking place soon enough. “It happens every time during election year. Look at what the US President Barak Obama and Republican presumptive candidate, Mitt Romney, are doing with each in the ongoing US presidential election campaign. If Mr Romney has accused President Obama of political payoffs, he is being assaulted for his controversial record as head of an equity company,” he added.

He ominously concluded that before the general elections take place, the Sharif brothers would have their share of media-attention for their alleged involvement in corruption scandals.

Another PPP leader on the condition of anonymity said that the cases were already pending against members of the Sharif family, and the NAB has just moved an application for their re-hearing and resolution.

“The move has generated immense media interest, and with the 24/7 media coverage, TV channels need juicy news to fill-in their news bulletins, so such stories would always be discussed to death,” he added.

However, chief spokesperson for the PPP and federal information minister, Qamar Zaman Kaira, when asked for his comments over the matter argued that if sitting ministers of the government could face cases and serve jail sentence, then the Sharif brothers should also get their names cleared from these cases.

When pressed further, the information minister replied: “In the presence of an independent judiciary in the country, it is wrong to put the blame on the ruling party that it was trying to achieve political mileage of these cases against the PML-N leaders.”

On the other hand, Senator Pervez Rashid of the PML-N felt that even earlier the PPP governments in the 90s and later on General Pervez Musharraf tried their best to use these cases against Sharif family, but could prove nothing. “Thus, we have nothing to worry about as far as these cases are concerned,” he said confidently.

Comments (13) Closed

SAEED KHAN Jul 20, 2012 11:00am
Riffat Jul 21, 2012 12:05pm
Mr zardari is no Bhutto ...Why we confuse zardari with Bhutto
Cyrus Howell Jul 26, 2012 09:14am
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has." -- Margaret Mead What can one man do? Start the ball rolling.
Canadian Jul 20, 2012 02:40pm
People of Pakistan know that leadership of MQM,PPP,PML-N,ANP are corrupt. Then why people of Pakistan vote these parties?
islam Khan Jul 20, 2012 01:31pm
Why call it victimazittion. They are charged and they have full chance to prove their innocense. I think all leaders need to be brought to justice if they have any pending cases of corruption before they are allowed to contest in coming election.
Me, USA Jul 20, 2012 01:19pm
Sharif's are as corrupt as Zardari, so let the ball rolling and end at Swiss Cases. They keep beating the same drum to fool the nation of Pakistan but hasn't done anything to be ready for the coming generations of Pakistan except, filling their own pocket and spreading wealth to their own family circles. Drag Sharif's, Zardari's and Chaudhary's into true and honest court rooms. God Bless Pakistan.
Hussain Jul 20, 2012 01:07pm
Not at all they have been enjoying throughout at the cost of poor people. The Nature do give some relaxtion but not forgive it for ever.
Tojo Jul 20, 2012 08:48pm
Unfortunately all politicians from PPP & PML-N have their hands tainted in corruption. Each protect one other as long as the other party protects them equally. Everyone is simply raping Pakistan. That is the fact. God save Pakistan the corrupt politicians. Most blame falls on pakistan people for electing corrupt and greedy leaders.
Sadruddin Mitha Jul 21, 2012 02:56am
I am sitting in Islamabad now for 45 years, I have yet to find an honest, God fearing, MNA or Senator, they are not Muslims in the eyes of Almighty their lust for this material world, lust for power, and for foreign bank accounts, are nothing new. as a citizen of Pakistan, I can foresee, bloodshed in this country and chaos and loot and plunder.the poor , hungry and jobless masses will take over what ever they can by force. even at the cost of their life, they will have nothing to lose. what is amusing is, those who can control the situation are now sitting quiet in barracks, and enjoying the drama, without realizing, God forbid, some damage is done to Pakistan's integrity, where would they hide their faces, ? whom they will rule ? from where they will get all they have ? I see dark days ahead and fear bloody scenes on the streets. it is just a matter of time. now we have acture water shortage after electricity and gas, see what happens next. pakistani rupee has no purchasing power,it is now a piece of paper.
Shahid Butt Jul 22, 2012 10:59pm
Any person who took the loan directly or indirectly(thru his or her corp) and did not return the money with interest must not be allowed to participate in election. In addition to that Banks should sell their NPL ( non performing loans ) in the open market to private sector. That will allow the private sector take the money back from these defaulters
ali abbas Jul 23, 2012 09:51pm
Let me ask you, do you come across many "honest and God fearing" Pakistanis? I think our corrupt politicians, military men, judges, journalists and even sportsmen are all reflection of corrupt society in general.
ali abbas Jul 23, 2012 09:57pm
Dont forget Imran Khan's party, its made of all the lotas that left other parties.
Cyrus Howell Jul 24, 2012 09:53pm
You are right.