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NICL scandal

January 26, 2011

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A MULTI-billion-rupee scandal. Scions of powerful political families are implicated. The highest court in the land is in dogged pursuit. Protection to some of the alleged culprits is being extended allegedly by top officials. Junior law-enforcement officers are being ordered by the court to take action against their superiors if they are prevented from carrying out their duties. The National Insurance Company Ltd scandal which has swirled around the son of former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi continues to be an odd spectacle. Moonis Elahi has apparently decamped, first to Dubai and now London, while the DG FIA, Waseem Ahmed, is now being investigated for allegedly blocking the arrest of another suspect, a director of the NICL. At the heart of the scandal lie a couple of sweetheart property deals involving the NICL which were facilitated allegedly by Moonis Elahi during his father's rule as the all-powerful Punjab chief minister. The cost to the public exchequer is believed to be in the range of Rs3.5bn, and Mr Elahi's 'share' was allegedly Rs220m.

Sadly, there is nothing 'unusual' about such scandals. Powerful politicians in cahoots with shady financiers are routinely accused of bilking the state of untold sums. The only thing unusual about the NICL scandal is that it has stayed in the news so long and there appears to be some possibility of criminal wrongdoing being found and prosecuted. So it is perhaps not very surprising that now there are allegations powerful vested interests have swung into action in a bid to shield the public, and the courts, from the truth. The intersection between politics and big money remains as real as it is influential. What's needed now is a clear commitment from the government to let the investigating officers pursue the matter into whichever corridors of power it leads to. Let the chips fall where they will.