Saturday, November 14, 2009

Zardari's French Connection...

The Pakistani President bribes

Ali Zardari would have affected commissions in the case of the DCN submarines.

6 reactions

By GUILLAUME DASQUIÉ Special Envoy in Karachi

Le président du Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, le 12 mai 2009 à New York

The President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, 12 May 2009 in New York (AFP Chris Hondros)

This morning, in an annex to the National Assembly, parliamentary on fact-finding mission"negotiations and the three submarines Agosta 90's sales contract conditions""" receives the families of the victims of the attack in Karachi. Eleven employees of the Directorate of naval constructions (DCN) died on 8 May 2002 in Karachi, while they coopéraient in Pakistan to this contract.Search the causes of this attack, the judge does more favours the scenario of an Al-Qaeda attack, he explores two other routes. On the one hand, the assumption of an attack in relation to non-honoured occult commissions. On the other hand, the assumption of a coming attack penalize negotiations conducted in 2001 by France to sell submarines to India, the hereditary enemy - a possibility adopted through a DCN, Jean-Marie Boivin, in a recent hearing revealed by Mediapart. In both cases, "the importance of the subject justifies members seek to know the negotiations that have surrounded this agreement and its implementation details"."", explains the Member (PS) Bernard Cazeneuve, rapporteur for this fact-finding mission and member of the DCN fief Cherbourg - Mayor. Reasonable... assuming all French protagonists of this 825 million euro contract throw the veil on the schema of corruption it underlays purpose. Because malpractice which accompanied the military-industrial agreement date back to the top of the Executive. On-site in Pakistan, releasethus collected documents showing that the current President, Ali Zardari, could be corrupted 4.3 million dollars for this contract with France.

Accounts. Explanation: between October 1993 and November 1996, the first Minister, Benazir Bhutto, provides several official functions to her husband, Ali Zardari. The latter benefits to require commissions all-out in agreement with his wife. A feature that vaudra it "Mister 10 %" shortened and will cause its fall.Arraigned on 19 December 1996, incarcerated for protected a drug trafficker remuneration according to a letter from the Islamabad Attorney obtained copy.It mentions also several bank accounts opened in Europe. From 1997, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB, kind of budgetary discipline Court) takes list assets held abroad by the Bhutto-Zardari torque. Cooperation snap with the Swiss and the British. According to the Office of magistrate Swiss Vincent Fournier, that we have requested, these Pakistani queries indicate likely to generated illicit commissions for the benefit of Ali Zardari, including the DCN submarines contract contracts. Four years later, these initiatives are successful.

A NAB report indicates that 12 April 2001 British administration forwards to Islamabad nearly 22,000 documents relating to financial transactions of Ali Zardari. In the year 2001, financial procedures intensify against him. The set of documents sent by London show that he has received vast sums on the part of a businessman of Lebanese origin Abdulrahman el-Assir. It has been imposed as an intermediary ".""by the power politics" French during the 21 September 1994 for the sale of submarines, according to a former manager of the DCN agreement hearing in Paris. A British judge Lawrence Collins of 6 October 2006 order lists inventory transfers sent by El-Assir to Zardari: $ 1.3 million in twice, between 15 and 30 August 1994, one month before the signing of the contract.Then $ 1.2 million and $ 1.8 million a year later, between 22 August and 1ERSeptember 1995. J. Collins says that these payments correspond to operations of corruption. A few months before the return of Zardari in power, all prosecutions and seizures in Switzerland, has been abandoned, 9 April 2008.

Military. But the current Pakistani President is only one of the beneficiaries of these flows posted from Paris. According to the DCN financial hearings, commissions make a total of 10 % of this market of submarines. Divided into two channels: 4 % for policies (including Ali Zardari) and 6 % for the military.The NAB collected in Karachi reports indicate that the Chief of the Pakistan Navy staff in 1994, Mansoor Ul - Haq, has benefited from corruption. Stopped in April 2001, he was forced to render near relating to the contract of the submarine $ 7 million.

Ghosts that won't go away Islamabad diary

Friday, November 13, 2009
Ayaz Amir

In the field of high, or surreptitious, finance our dear president has been much too successful for his own good. Fortune may have been kind to him and he may have clambered up the greasy pole to occupy the highest office in the land, but what price this glory when the echo of some of his more spectacular achievements just won't go away?

A dozen NROs will not wash the name of Cotecna, the Swiss firm said to have given huge kickbacks for a customs inspection contract during the golden days of Mohtarma's first premiership. The famous Queen's necklace which later figured high in the allegations brought against the ruling couple (it was truly that) was said to have been paid for out of the Cotecna kickbacks.

The cases in Swiss courts which arose out of that affair if taken to their logical conclusion could have spelt serious international trouble for those figuring in it (I am being coy with names because after Ms Bhutto's all too tragic assassination taking her name in connection with these sordid events is not easy). But Pervez Musharraf's domestic necessities arose to the defence of the Cotecna principals. The Swiss cases magically melted away but their dim memory remains, a reminder, if nothing else, of how what could have been a fairy tale -- Ms Bhutto's premiership -- became mired in controversy and scandal.

My telephone number in Islamabad in those distant days was 826611 while the number of the Prime Minister's house was 816611. And since telephone lines then were not what they are now -- Pakistan not having quite entered the digital or optic fibre age -- it was not uncommon for calls to slip from one line to the other. So it was that sometimes to my amusement, at other times to my great annoyance, I used to receive calls meant for the Prime Minister's house.

Once, cross my heart, I got a call from Geneva from a Mr Schlegelmilch (I hope I have got his name right) who wanted to be put through to Mr Zardari. I pretended to be someone associated with Mr Zardari and said that he could tell me whatever he had to say in the fullest confidence. But Mr Schlegelmilch was too smart to fall for this. It later transpired that he was the go-between in the Cotecna affair and received a handsome cut for his pains. (I am not making this up. I wrote about it at the time.)

Part of the mythology to which the political class subscribes in Pakistan is that no sooner is a political government in place than the military establishment and the intelligence agencies start conspiring against it. While true to a great extent, this alone does not account for the fingers pointing at civilian shenanigans. Cotecna and the Queen's necklace were not scandals invented by ISI or Military Intelligence. They were real happenings scripted and performed by those then in power. ISI or MI may have made the most of them. But that's something else. Chinks in your armour don't expect your enemies not to exploit.

True, Mr Zardari then was neither president nor prime minister. But he was the first husband and as Nancy Reagan once said of her time as first lady, being close to someone -- her actual words were a bit different -- gives you unbeatable access. Mr Zardari did not have to hold any position to be a big player, or rather the biggest player, in the realm of high finance. In fact so great was the buzz in those days about his stupendous skill in financial matters that he earned the lasting sobriquet Mr Ten Percent. He can become the pope tomorrow and this tag won't leave him. Like ghosts, some other things too just don't go away.

So it is a bit disingenuous of Mr Farhatullah Babar, the ubiquitous presidential spokesman, to aver that Mr Zardari could have had nothing to do with the submarine affair -- the taking of kickbacks in a contract for the supply of three French Agosta submarines in 1994 -- because he was neither president nor prime minister, nor minister of defence. Adnan Khashogi was the biggest name in Saudi defence deals in the 1980s and 1990s, his kickbacks running into the billions. But he was no minister of defence or civil aviation. He was a high-flying entrepreneur who operated from the shadows, as such men must, making and cutting big-time deals.

Kashogi operated out of Lebanon. Mr Zardari did one better. For the hectic philanthropy which was his speciality, he operated out of the Prime Minister's house. We must hand it to the man for another reason: the boldness of his imagination knew no bounds. For recreation purposes he had horse stables set up in the grounds of the PM's house. No one had done anything of the kind before. There were so many other things Mr Zardari did which no one had done before. In more senses than one, therefore, he remains one of a kind.

The media will sorely miss him when he is no longer there to write about. In fact if the media had a heart -- about which most people will have the gravest doubts -- it would give Mr Zardari a medal for being the most write-able figure that there has been in our history. Musharraf was good copy too, but not as much as Mr Zardari. In the media's hall of fame he deserves an honoured place.

I wrote about the submarine affair too in 1994. The air was rife with rumours about the then naval chief, Admiral Mansur-ul-Haq, and a go-between, Amer Lodhi, being involved in the kickbacks accruing from that contract. Nothing was ever proved but then that's one of the greatest things about our Islamic Republic: nothing ever gets proved and so, happily, no one is ever punished. In this sense, in one form or the other, Pakistan has been living on NROs since its birth. The only difference is that while there have been previous whitewashes none has had as beguiling and innocent a name as the National Reconciliation Ordinance. The artist who thought of the name deserves an award.

I may add that because of the submarine column I wrote, I and the paper in which it was published received a five crore defamation/libel notice from Mr Zardari's lawyer. Thankfully it wasn't pursued beyond that first move.

But returning to Mr Zardari, despite his image problem, he -- counting everything, especially his ascent to the presidency -- has been a lucky man. But as his troubles mount his luck seems to be deserting thin. The general perception of him now is of an increasingly beleaguered figure holed up in the Presidency, his only communication with the outside world through his spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, whose word, alas, engenders disbelief with every passing day. The submarine affair -- resurfacing in the French left-wing newspaper Liberation -- couldn't have come at a more difficult time, because it refreshes public memories of the president's awkward past, when his main claim to fame was being Mr Ten Percent.

The allegation that the terrorist attack on the Karachi Sheraton in 2002 which led to the deaths of 11 French nationals was in retaliation to the non-payment of full kickbacks for the submarine contract I personally find farfetched if not wildly imaginative. Such an attack would have required the resources and the expertise of a full-fledged terrorist syndicate. To attribute it to Mr Zardari, as Liberation seems to do, is to stretch the limits of credulity and give him a more evil look than he deserves. But the kickbacks are a different matter. Allegations about them were widely believed when the contract was being finalised.

But we are in a terrible bind. Here we have all these tales of corruption and it is no cause for comfort when every footprint should be leading -- how is one to put this? -- where it should not lead. But many of us are also prey to the fear that if there are forces out to get the president and somehow they succeed, we will end up with not a purified democracy but, most likely, no democracy at all.

Talk of being between the devil and the deep sea: either Zardari or perdition. The fairies could have dealt us a better hand. But this is the one we have and the one we will have to live with for the time being.



Kraxpelax said...

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Saleem Shareef said...

Thanks for re-producing the exact article from The French Media. Also thank you for Ayaz Amir's informative article too. But how do you explain to he Jiyalas who believe nothing. They think their guru is the sacred cow what ever they think becomes the law. Althought the Jiyala is getting nothing but he is rock solid behind the Bhutto and Zardari family. But the law I am afraid will take its course. We may have tne ignomony of seeing out President behind bars. With so much of criminal baggage he cannot remain out of prison for long.

Syed Raza said...

You had pasted the full thanks of Kerry Lugar Bill and now you have posted the original article which Ayaz Amir has commented about. Thank you for posting these both. I think there should be no discrimiation between criminals high or low. Both must be dealt with as per law and face consequences. NRO must go by all means and no body should get any exception.

Imran Khan said...

Our President is a celebrity of The Hall of Notoriety. Hail Hitler.

Khosa said...

Ayaz Amir is being too kind on the guy. Is he afraid of him. Looks like. He is being so soft and treading with caution. The other day I saw Najam Sethi in a way justifying his acquisition of 320 acres of land swallowed in 62,00,000 a land worth over 2 billion. Najam Sethi was too much. I think the journalists who are so afraid to speak he truth even if it is bitter are no journalists at all. At least Mr. Ayaz Amir had some guts. Congrats.

Asad said...

Naheed Khan yesterday said something very nice. She said all beneficiaries of NRO must resign. Hope the Pesident is listening.