The Supreme Court of Pakistan, irked with the National Accountability Bureau performance on implementing its verdict announced in March 2012 on Tuesday ordered the arrest of 16 accused in Rental Power case including the then Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf who happens to be the sitting Prime Minister today. The Supreme Court had in its judgment declared all rental power contracts "illegal", directing NAB to take action against the delinquents. Since no action was taken by the NAB for a considerable time. Therefore, the Supreme Court in December 2012 directed the NAB to present its final report on January 15, 2013.
On Tuesday when the NAB reported that investigation against all the nominated persons in this case has been completed. The Supreme Court has finally asked Chairman NAB to finalize charge sheets, arrest them and produce them before the relevant court. The then Minister for Water and Power during whose tenure the Rental Power Projects were approved or set-up, were assisted by the then Minister of Finance Shaukat Tareen and the Finance Secretary holding charge when the down payment for Rental Power Projects was increased from 7% to 14%.
After the19 RPP contracts had been signed on a second thought Finance Minister Shaukat Tareen obtained cabinet approval that the entire project of engaging the RPPs, its pros and cons, the benefits and flaws, to be thoroughly examined by the Asian Development Bank, so that the government would be fully aware of the correct situation at the time of award of contracts.
According to ADB`s finding, the agreements were signed `in haste` and without examining in detail the contractual obligations which these entailed for the government. The agreements were, later, changed by the Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) in favour of the RPPs.
Most of the agreements contained serious flaws and included even provisions that if a contractor gives up the work after signing the agreement, the government would still have to pay for the capacity charges. The report also points out the 14 per cent mobilization charges paid to the 14 RPPs, and did not take into account the tariff calculations.
Only nine of the RPPs then were allowed to function after this damning Asian Development Bank report. Subsequently, six of those nine RPPs were discontinued as well. Despite the fact that the rental power case was pending that had brought the nickname of Raja rental to the former Minister of Water and Power, his party the ruling PPP headed by Asif Ali Zardari made the Raja Pervez Ashraf the Prime Minster after Yusuf Raza Gilani, who had to step down after disobeying another order of the Supreme Court in the NRO case to write letter to Swiss Court to re-open the case.
This shows that the ruling PPP and its leaders are least concerned about good governance and are solely interested in keeping themselves in power. Now this court decision might bring their government down. The reason for this is the coinciding of this arrest warrant with the much-touted long march of imported Dr. Tahirul Qadri. Though much fewer people joined the march than expected by Dr. Qadri and his followers, the fact is that those who have joined are there for the real reasons: they are the poor and deprived of this country and society, deprived of electricity, healthcare, education, jobs and many other things that make human life respectable and they have found a ray of hope in this long march call.
The news about the arrest warrant in the rental power case comes together with another press report related to an earlier mega corruption scandal. Just a couple of days ago the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was informed that over 82.53 billion rupees were paid to IPPs by WAPDA under the head of fine and late payment during the last five years. Present rulers were not satisfied with the damaging effects brought by IPP's to our economic health that they further devised a novel corruption formula to 'compensate' independent power producers, according to which they will be paid Rs600 million per month for operating below capacity due to financial crunch with the pledge to end load shedding by 31st December 2011. The new formula was floated with a tag to resolve cash flow problems of IPP's that will eventually help to a great extent in overcoming the on-going energy crisis. KESC happens to be a privatized entity but over Rs100 billion have been doled out as stimulus package from the taxpayer's money.
All this shows that fraud and corruption from top to the bottom of the society is the main problem of this country. By now power is in the hands of the people who sell postings, jobs, licenses and degrees and it is almost impossible for the common man not to get corrupted. This has been going on for the last many decades with the result that by now the Pakistani state and most of its institutions have lost creditability in the eyes of the people, law starting from the traffic rules and ending with the first law of the country, the constitution is disregarded and not worth the paper on which it is written. As a result the economy is failing and poverty is reaching new heights. In the face of such a desperate situation with the government weak and may be falling as responsible citizens we have to ask ourselves what can be done and where should relief come from.
As we have been repeating several times we think that democracy doesn't suit the structure of Pakistan's society. For democracy to work you need democratically minded people who hold firm opinion on issues confronting the nation. In our country even the educated lot is not democratically minded, meaning that they would accept the democratic rules of equality and give adequate access to power to the poor who are the majority in the country.
They want to rule themselves and use the people as voting cattle which those haplessly allow them to do. If not, elections are manipulated by pre-poll rigging, false electoral roles, theft or filling ballot boxes with fake votes and many others tricks. No election in Pakistan has ever been fair, not even the 1970's one.
Our bad experience with the Charter of Democracy in last 5 years is before all of that has forced the nation to stage sit-ins when their voice and problems are not noticed by the rulers. Therefore, in order to solve our main two problems that is corruption and poverty we don't need democracy, a benevolent dictator would do.
This statement is supported by examples of countries that have gained economic progress without democracy such as China, Singapore and others. Of course China does have a due amount of corruption. But in any case Pakistan cannot go the Chinese way, the Korean way or anybody else's way; we will have to find the Pakistani way to solve our problems. God bless Pakistan. (Frontier Post)