Sunday, March 4, 2012

Asghar Khan’s petition finally comes
up for hearing

After a very long wait the petition filed by Air Marshal Asghar Khan against funds doled out by the establishment through the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to a select group of anti-Benazir Bhutto politicians in 1990 finally came up for hearing before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The case was, however, adjourned because of absence of certain key witnesses amid warning by the Chief Justice that notices must be issued to former chief of ISI Gen. Asad Durani, and former chief of Mehran Bank Younus Habib to appear before the court in the next hearing on March 8. By his own admission, Gen. Durrani had directly delivered the money to individual politicians and groups including Pakistan Muslim League’s Nawaz Sharif as ordered by the “boss”, meaning the then army chief Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg. In turn Gen. Beg had named the ‘chief executive’ (President Ghulam Ishaq Khan) for supervising the entire exercise. Nobody thought of ethnical or legal violations of their secret proceedings. Its sinister purpose was to defeat the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) under Benazir Bhutto in the 1990 elections. A total of Rs140 million was disbursed after Mehran Bank illegally advanced it to the ISI account. Another Rs50 million was allegedly paid to Bangladesh’s Khalida Zia to help her in polls against Hasina Wajid’s Awami League generally perceived by Pakistan’s security establishment as pro-India.

The ISI had brought together various conservative and religious parties and groups under the banner of Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) to collectively face the PPP. It effectively checked the Benazir tide in 1988 denying her absolute majority. She got 92 seats against 54 by the IJI while 102 votes were needed to form the government. In Punjab, the major battleground, the IJI got 109 seats against 105 of the PPP while 44 were elected as independent. President Ghulam Ishaq Khan withheld invitation to Benazir to try to constitute a coalition until Nawaz Sharif succeeded in luring the independents to lead the provincial government. Ishaq Khan finally dismissed Benazir government in less than two years and ordered fresh elections in 1990 for which financial support was provided to IJI politicians. Apart from that, arrangement to completely demolish the PPP was tightened by establishing an election cell in the Presidency under Gen. Rifaqat. Benazir could get only a limited number of seats from Sindh and helplessly declared that the elections were massively “stolen”. It is a shameful chapter in country’s history in which the ‘troika’ of President, prime minister and army chief joined hands to secure desired results through brazenly dubious means. Gen. Durrani and Gen. Beg acted in direct contravention of their oath and willingly obeyed illegal orders.

Asghar Khan filed a petition against the illegal disbursement of funds to the IJI politicians. Gen. Durrani in his testimony gave details of amounts given to each leader. The court reserved further action after recording initial evidence. The resurrection of the case has vindicated Supreme Court’s credentials as a neutral and independent entity not leaning against or towards any party. The court is unlikely to punish anybody but would once again expose the interference of security establishment in political matters in violation of the constitution. Imran, who has pressed for revival of the case, apparently wants to retaliate against PML-N for its campaign against him that he is being propped up by the ISI. The case will instead expose Sharif and his allies for receiving money from agencies. It will also show to the nation how the establishment operates to ensure that political system does not stabilise.
Former ISI chief Gen. Hamid Gul unabashedly takes credit for fathering the IJI in 1988 to stem Benazir’s tide. “She would have swept the polls,” he once admitted. A weak coalition under Benazir became an easy prey for Ishaq Khan to be sent home packing within less than two years. The decade of 1990s saw similarly fragile arrangements alternating after every two years and being dispensed with by the president in collaboration with the army chief. Democracy was thus not allowed to take firm roots and was given bad name for incompetence and corruption.

The Supreme Court has been persistently dared and even criticised by the PPP for reluctance to take up the petition because it targets the security agencies and their once favourite politician Nawaz Sharif. Imran recently moved the court to revive the hearing. Theoretically such a hearing has only a historical importance and provides an opportunity for exposing Shairf. But the recourse to past history only diverts attention from real issues confronting the people.

Winston Churchill had once warned politicians: “I consider that it will be found much better by all parties to leave the past to history, especially as I propose to write that history myself.” While Imran will be able to avenge the ‘campaign of vilification’ launched against him by Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N that he is being propelled by the ISI, the PPP shall have the opportunity to expose Sharif who continues to target Asif Ali Zardari for his alleged corruption. However, if, beyond these short-term gains, the case serves a higher purpose of ensuring cleaner and untainted politics in the future, the hearing of Asghar Khan’s petition would promote a noble objective.

Misjudgement led to Teesta treaty hope: Indian minister

Indian Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal thinks there was “a little misjudgement” on his part to assume that Mamata Banerjee was on board on the proposed agreement with Bangladesh on Teesta water-sharing.

During an interactive session titled ‘Idea Exchange’ with the journalists of Indian Express, Bansal went on record for the first time in pointing out the issue on which there has been divergence of opinion between Mamata government and central Indian government.

Journalists of the newspaper asked what exactly led to the failure to sign the proposed Teesta river water-sharing agreement with Bangladesh during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka in September last year following last-minute objections from Mamata. 

“On Teesta, there was a little over-enthusiasm on my part in presuming that she was on board. What has been happening all these years is that our water goes unmeasured. We had agreed to work out about 75 per cent of the water, but about 25 per cent of the water was left. And for that, the treaty was to be worked out,” Bansal replied.

Continued Bansal: “For the first time, we were putting into the treaty that the regeneration of water in their portion would also be treated as water from the river.”

“The topography of the area is such that there is huge regeneration of water in a certain stretch of the river which falls on the other side after the water leaves our last barrage. They were not agreeable to take that into account. We thought that it was acceptable to them.”

The newspaper published an item on Sunday on the interactive session.

Asked what gave him the impression that the Mamata Banerjee government was on board, Bansal said: “That was a little misjudgement. There were discussions with them. Our view was that it’s acceptable. Without that, we wouldn’t have included that in the treaty, PM wouldn’t have asked (Mamata Banerjee) to go to Bangladesh.”

When a journalist of the newspaper pointed out that there was the impression that the Indian government backs down on the issue of China usurping river waters, Bansal said, “When we talk to any country, we never talk from a position of weakness. As far as the suggestion that China is taking away our water, it is not based on facts. The fact is, we don’t have a river water treaty with China and there is no enforceable international law on river water. All that we have are conventions.” 

Terming that the fears expressed about the Brahmaputra as “misplaced”, Bansal said: “From time to time, there have been reports that China is undertaking construction activity on the Brahmaputra which could reduce the flow of water to India. But, China has repeatedly said they will never do anything that is against international conventions and laws.”

“Our independent assessment is that there is no such construction activity that could divert water on a large scale,” the Indian minister said.


Sector Commander's Forum lobbies for frauds

Lieutenant General Harun Ur Rashid, the ex chief of Bangladesh Army is a big name in the political circle in the country for his role as the convener of Sector Commander's Forum [SCF], which is battling for trying selected number of war criminals in Bangladesh. The organization was formed under the patronization of the military controlled dictatorial interim regime in 2007, when few military officers snatched power from President Iazuddin Ahmed and planted its own people into country's administration. According to political analysts, the happenings of January 11, 2007 was nothing but a blood-less military coup, which was led by extremely greedy army chief General Moeen U Ahmed, who was dreaming of sabotaging country's democratic institutions. At that time, Gen. Moeen picked up few of the retired army officers and provided silent patronization to them in establishing various types of organizations as well as political parties, which were all goaled at ultimately removing country's mainstream political parties and organizations.

Demand for trying the war criminals were actually pioneered in Bangladesh many years back under the courageous leadership of Jahanara Imam and eminent writer Shahriar Kabir, under the banner of an organization named 'Ghatak-Dalal Nirmul Committee' [GDNC]. General Moeen U Ahmed stole this concept visibly from GDNC and funded formation of Sector Commander's Forum with General Harun Ur Rashid as its convener, though Gen. Harun was never a sector commander during the war of liberation of Bangladesh. Gen. Moeen wanted to snatch the important agenda of GDNC and place it actually with some ex army officers under the banner of SCF. None of the veteran civilian freedom fighters and sector commanders of the war of liberation are put into important positions in SCF, which certainly show that the key reason behind formation of this new front by the army junta was actually to pull down the GDNC, which is led by large number of freedom fighters, most of whom belong to secularist groups. Since formation of the SCF, the organization enjoyed fullest patronization and support of the military controlled dictatorial regime and in months it came at the forefront of many organizations, which were already demanding trial of the war criminals and the collaborators.

Much ahead of General Harun being made the convener of the Sector Commander's Forum, he was already associated with a fraudulent multilevel marketing company in Bangladesh, where not only he holds the top-most position, but also is one of the share-holders of the most notorious and fraudulent enterprise of the fraud conglomerate, which collected at least 50 thousand crore Taka from innocent people by selling fictitious trees in their so-called plantation project. Though Gen. Harun is fully aware of the fraudulent nature of this project, he enthusiastically joined hands with the fraudulent MLM Company, Destiny 2000 Limited, Destiny Tree Plantation Limited and other fake enterprises of the largest MLM Company in Bangladesh. People concerned feel that by joining hands with such fraudulent enterprise, Gen. Harun certainly has lost his credibility of being an honest individual.

The mastermind of Destiny 2000 Limited, Destiny Tree Plantation Limited and other fake enterprises of the largest MLM Company, Mohammad Rafiqul Amin wanted to place someone with sound professional background in the post of the chairman of this fraud conglomerate, thinking such recruitment would make "positive image" of such enterprises in the eyes of the public, which was very important for him in cheating people with his own-styled fictitious and fraudulent projects. Mohammad Rafiqul Amin's idea was not wrong! He has been able of turning Destiny 2000 Limited, Destiny Tree Plantation Limited and other fake enterprises of the largest MLM Company, from a small enterprise into a huge MLM Company just within the span of 5 odd years thus cheating at least 4 million small investors. Economic experts believe the "Destiny Scam" will become the biggest headache for the government in near future, as it is easily anticipated that promoters of this fraudulent company will flee the country any time. It is learnt from numerous sources that major segment of the fund of Destiny 2000 Limited, Destiny Tree Plantation Limited and other fake enterprises of the largest MLM Company has already bee trafficked illegally to a number of countries. Mastermind of Destiny 2000 Limited, Mohammad Rafiqul Amin and members of his family are citizens of Canada while most of the members of the board of directors of this fraudulent company have already obtaining immigrant status or citizenship in a number of nations.

Meanwhile when Bangladesh Bank, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Social Welfare and Anti Corruption Commission are investigating series of irregularities of Destiny 2000 Limited, Destiny Tree Plantation Limited and other fake enterprises of the largest MLM Company, the chairman of this fraudulent enterprise, Gen. Harun Ur Rashid is trying to use the Sector Commander's Forum as the lobbyist of this fictitious MLM company with the goal of salvaging Mohammad Rafiqul Amin and his gang from falling into public wrath. He has paid huge amount of donation to a number of organizations in Bangladesh including Muktijuddho Jadughar, Autistic Foundation etc. The ex chief of Bangladesh Army has also sent one of their representatives to London, few weeks back, to handover a significant amount of fund to an important figure there.

Seeking anonymity, a retired General of Bangladesh Army told Weekly Blitz that, by associating with a fraudulent MLM company for mere financial benefit, Gen. Harun has visibly put the excellent image of Bangladesh Armed Forces into stake. He is continuing to influence junior officers in army, Rapid Action Battalion as well as intelligence agencies with the ulterior motive of stopping any investigation or legal actions against Destiny 2000 Limited, Destiny Tree Plantation Limited and other fake enterprises of the largest MLM Company.

"An abettor of crime is also a criminal. In this case Gen. Harun surely is now actively involved into criminal and fraudulent activities of Mohammad Rafiqul Amin and his Destiny 2000 Limited, Destiny Tree Plantation Limited and other fake enterprises of the largest MLM Company. Army administration as well as intelligence agencies within need to take immediate measures to make sure that this ex chief of army is stopped from influencing his junior officers or brother officers in Bangladesh Army", it said.