June 14, 2012
Scandal escalates to defame the Chief Justice of Pakistan
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
Not surprisingly, the scandal to defame the Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry through a conspiracy to entrap his family escalated Tuesday with the conspirator, Malik Riaz - a real estate tycoon - accusing the Chief Justice of knowing his business dealings with his son Dr.Arsalan Iftikhar.
Addressing a press conference Malik Riaz claimed that he was blackmailed and did not pay any bribes. He described Dr. Arsalan as ‘don’, adding he was the one running the judiciary. He also claimed that Chief Justice was meeting him secretly.
The charge was immediately denied and clarified by the Supreme Court Registrar, Faqir Hussain said that the real estate tycoon had met with Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry during the days of latter's deposition. Speaking to Geo News, Faqir Hussain said that two to three such meetings had taken place during which he too was present. The Chief Justice held no meetings with Malik Riaz after his restoration, he clarified.
Earlier on Tuesday, Malik Riaz submitted his official response in the Arsalan Iftikhar suo motu case and accused the chief justice’s son of accepting kickbacks and bribes worth over Rs340 million ($3.4 million) from him. He further alleged that the money was used to fund Arsalan’s two separate foreign trips.
The statement submitted by Riaz said that Arsalan had assured him to be of assistance in different cases against Bahria Town pending in the courts. He claimed that he possessed ample evidence against the transactions that took place between himself and Arsalan.
He further alleged that Arsalan was accompanied by a woman on his trip to Monte Carlo. He claims to have bought the ticket for the woman whose identity Arsalan did not reveal at the time. Riaz alleged that he paid over rupees 2500,000 for the apartment Arsalan rented in Monte Carlo and over rupees 3400,000 for rental cars.
The statement submitted by Riaz said that Arsalan had assured him to be of assistance in different cases against Bahria Town pending in the courts. He claimed that he possessed ample evidence against the transactions that took place between himself and Arsalan. Malik Riaz also mentioned that he did not get any relief in spite of Dr. Arsalan’s statements. He said Arsalan had blackmailed him and his son-in-law for a long time.
It may be pointed out that the conspiracy to implicate the Chief Justice was revealed on June 4, 2012 by Shaeen Sehbai, Group Editor The News International, in a 38 minute interview by the Washington Beat on YouTube. Sehbai said “CJ’s son was given up to Rs400 million (Approximately $4 million) in a planned conspiracy. The conspiracy is now completed and can be brought to surface anytime.”
On June 5, Chief Justice Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry took a suo moto notice against his own son Dr. Arsalan Iftikhar and Bahria Town’s Malik Riaz Hussain. Dr. Arsalan appeared in the court but Malik Riaz was abroad and he appeared before the court on Tuesday, June 12, 2012.
Why Malik Riaz is against the Supreme Court?
"Leaders of lawyers’ movement helping Bahria Town chairman in land grabbing and extra-judicial activities. Police, revenue officials dancing to his tunes due to his influence on appointments," these observations of Ikram Junaidi, a Daily Times writer, best describe the personality of Malik Riaz, who is accused of land grabbing, fraud and murder.
On July 20, 2011, the Daily Times published an article by Ikram Junaidi, under the title "Malik Riaz continues to hold sway over judicial system." Junaidi said: "Malik Riaz of Bahria Town has become an unannounced don of Islamabad and Rawalpindi and now has been using famous lawyers who have been part of the “Restoration of Judiciary Movement” to buy justice for him. He is also influencing appointments of police and revenue officials to use them for his interests and deprive the ordinary persons of their properties in the twin cities."
Junaidi quoted reliable sources as saying, presently over 50 cases of Irfan Abbasi, Col (r) Khalid, Dr Shafique and other persons against Bahria Town are directly or indirectly are under proceeding in trial and apex courts, but Riaz hired some prominent lawyers who played important role in the 2007-2008 restoration of judiciary to influence the cases in trial courts.
They said cases of murder, land grabbing and other heinous crime were filed against Riaz in the courts. On October 27, 2009 a three-member bench comprising Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S Khwaja and Justice Ghulam Rabbani ordered Sihala police to lodge an FIR and arrest Bahria Town chairman Malik Riaz Hussain. The court issued theses orders on a suo moto notice on reports of the murder of security guard Fiaz Ahmed, who was killed in 2008. In that case seven people were arrested, but all were released on bail. However, Malik Riaz could not be arrested. Some people present at the hearing told the Supreme Court (SC) that Riaz forced them to sell him their land. Those people also alleged that if they would refuse they would be harassed with help of local police.
The court directed Sihala police official to record the statement of Shamraiza Bibi, Ahmed’s widow, in the courtroom. In her statement she said Malik Riaz was responsible for the murder of her husband. During the course of hearing, two citizens - Raja Qayyum and Habibullah - appeared before the bench and maintained that they were victimized by Malik Riaz, who had gotten them beaten through police as they were not selling their land to him. They alleged that SHO Idrees Rathore and DSP Malik Mumtaz kept them locked for three months, forcing them to sell their properties to the Bahria Town chairman.
A SC bench headed by CJ Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry ordered the district and sessions judge Islamabad in 2009 to launch a judicial inquiry against Riaz for his alleged land grabbing through coercive and blackmailing tactics and submit report to the apex court. The DCO Islamabad was directed to facilitate and cooperate with the district and sessions judge in this regard. Almost 100 persons gave their statements against Malik Riaz but so far police have failed to take action against him.
They said many people in the past tried to protect their properties from land mafia but mostly their struggle ended in their death and astonishingly families of the deceased were forced to have a patch-up with land mafia. This situation has developed a common perception that no one can stand against Riaz in federal capital and nearby areas.
Sources said in rural circles, especially in Sihala and Bhara Kahu, police station house officers (SHOs) can not be appointed without approval of Malik Riaz and deputy superintendents of police (DSPs) and superintendents of police (SPs) are appointed after consultation with him, as these officers can use their powers against him during inquiries about the land grabbing and other matters.
Bahria Town Security guard murder case
On February 27, 2012, the Supreme Court rejected an inquiry report by the capital’s top cop into the murder of a security guard and directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to conduct an inquiry afresh. The three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, which was hearing the case, directed the FIA Director General Javed Iqbal to submit his findings in three weeks.
Hamid Khan, a prominent figure during the lawyers’ movement and leader of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf, appeared before the court to defend the real estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain, who had paid Rs26 million ($ .26 Million) to the widow of security guard Fayyaz Ahmad. “Was it diyat?” the court asked. “No, it was financial assistance,” Khan replied. While appreciating Riaz’s generosity, the court was curious as to the reason he was being so generous. “We are well aware of the fact that no one normally extend such huge amounts…while Riaz is not even accused in the case, we would like to know the truth behind his generosity,” Justice Tariq Pervez asked.
On the court’s instruction, Defense lawyer Hamid Khan also read out the inquiry report of an additional sessions judge, which stated that the Bahria Town owner was also involved in this case and that the murder and subsequent accusations on innocent people were to snatch their land.
Inspector General Police Islamabad, Bani Amin, who was tasked the inquiry on February 1, informed the court that he found 15 officers guilty of not running a transparent investigation. “I have dismissed nine station house officers (SHOs) and recommended the suspension of six deputy superintendents of police (DSPs).”
Bahria Town owner Malik Riaz accused of murder
On June 7, 2012, a petition to register a murder case against Malik Riaz has been submitted in the Supreme Court. In his petition, Dr Shafiq-ur-Rehman, accused that Malik Riaz was involved in the murder of (retd) Lt Gen. Imtiaz Hussain and Dr Mansoor Janjua.
The petition states that their murders were connected with an exchange of a staggering Rs 62 Billion ($ 62 million) in Bahria Town Defense Housing Authority scheme.
Lt Gen (retd) Imtiaz Hussain was found dead at his bungalow in Rawalpindi Defense Housing Authority on May 24. He had a single gunshot wound to his head. “The bullet entered the left temple and exited through the opposite side,” according to police. In a statement, Imtaiz’s wife said that her husband was suffering from depression and on May 24 morning he shot himself in the head. Besides serving in the army at various posts, Lt Gen Hussain had also served as chairman of the Army Welfare Trust. He was issueless but the couple have an adopted son.
Under the title, "Second Death Attributed to Malik Riaz's National Scandal," Pakistan Think Tank website (www.pakistanthinktank.org) has published an article saying:
"At first blush, the doctor's petition appears to be the action of a fevered mind bent upon heaping ignominy on a person, who does not need any outside help to add to his already formidable and justifiable claims to infamy, as the country's corrupter par excellence. And though there can be little doubt that the general's death was the
result of suicide, there is his connection with Malik Riaz Hussain that could possibly have hurried him towards this end.
"Malik Sahib is a man of great vision, energy, ambition, deceit, mendacity, utter ruthlessness, and sheer nerve. He has had huge success, made huge money, which entailed huge infringements of the law, against which he immunized himself by giving out huge bribes. And he bribed the high and the low, the holy and the not so holy, the
politicians and the bureaucrats, and the judges and the military. He is the fairest man in the illegal distribution of largesse that ever lived; and also the politest--a most felicitous confluence of hypocrisy and sycophancy.
"His operating principle has been to play Robin Hood in reverse i.e to gouge from his investors and pay off the elites. And without these elites, both civil and military, so utterly bereft of moral sense or spine, such great 'success', as Malik Sahib's, would be unthinkable."
Pakistan Think Tank report exposes Malik Riaz's shady deal with the Defense Housing Authority run by Pakistan's powerful army. The report said:
"A while ago, an email purportedly written by Lt Col [retd] Tariq Kamal, an ex-Director Engineering of DHA was doing the rounds. This sought to expose a DHA-Bahria contract which is a scam of mammoth proportions. According to the Colonel's computation, Malik Sahib enriched himself by about Rs sixty billion as a result of this contract, and some of these pickings were generously distributed by him among those who facilitated his theft, one of the beneficiaries being the late general.
"Initially DHA Islamabad hired Malik Sahib's services for land acquisition. Malik Sahib being the head land mafiosi of the country, this selection must be considered to have been made on merit. Generally he was buying land at between Rs 20,000 and 50,000 per kanal, and palming it off to the army at between Rs 300,000 to 500,000
"A huge amount of money was made in this operation, and a lot of it went around to sully many a well starched uniform. But that was not all. DHA was intent on making further "progress". It then signed a contract with Malik Riaz to develop some of the land which Malik Sahib had helped it acquire. The development charges for this operation were being paid by thousands of allotees, who were mostly middle ranking
army officers and civilians of like financial standing. Under terms of this contract, the DHA was obliged to transfer all monies received on account of this development to Malik Riaz's coffers with 24 hours of receipt of the same.
"This would have been fine, assuming that the money was being used for the purposes for which it was intended. But this was not the case. These funds were actually being used for everything but their assigned purpose. They were being used to acquire more land for Bahria Town [ i.e Malik Riaz], to buy properties abroad,
and for further facilitation and hushing up the improprieties being committed by the man. All stirrings of protest were being regularly squelched by the army high ups, and indeed none of these found a sympathetic ear. Lt Col Tariq Kamal's was the very first protest which eventually broke through the surface. But the scandal was known
earlier, though seldom talked about.
"General Imtiaz was the Adjutant General of the Army, and thus the ultimate boss of DHA Islamabad, when this infamous contract was signed. It was also well known then that he was also its penultimate beneficiary--the ultimate one being the great Malik himself! After his retirement from the army he was rewarded with the stewardship of the Army Welfare Trust. And it was after his retirement from there that he came home and found the time and the leisure to fall into a depression which eventually drove him into suicide. There is a good body of opinion which feels that his depression was the brought on by fear of the chickens coming home to roost, as it is
reasonable to assume they must. So, between the death of General Imtiaz and Malik Riaz Hussain there may well be an intimate connection. And few connections are more intimate than those between give and take. But the stakes now have become considerably higher."
After finding a connection between General Imtiaz and Malik Riaz, the Pakistan Think Tank report argued that Malik Riaz's attempt to subvert and compromise the Chief Justice of Pakistan through his son, was his final throw of the dice to bring down Pakistan's last bastion.
The daily Dawn reported on June 9 that the National Accountability Bureau has ordered a fresh inquiry into an alleged Rs62 billion ($ 620 million) land scam in the Defense Housing Authority (DHA) Islamabad in which Malik Riaz, a property tycoon, is allegedly involved. The scam is linked to allegations levelled by former military officer Tariq Kamal against Malik Riaz and the DHA for depriving about 150,000 people of their residential plots. Interestingly, the NAB Rawalpindi which had received the case early this year did not take any action and no inquiry was initiated. Dawn quoted Lt-Col (retd) Tariq Kamal as saying: “Those who got cheated include 110,000 civilians, 41,000 serving and retired military officers, jawans and families of martyrs. Total land in question is 165,000 kanals.”
Not surprisingly, Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa in Military Inc. writes: "Malik Riaz is an extremely influential man, and has relations with prominent politicians and the DHA. In fact, he formalized his relations with the DHA by signing a memorandum of understanding in October 2006 which aimed at a 'seamless integration' of BF and DHA housing scheme infrastructures. Although this partnership was effectively endorsed by the courts, I believe it can be seen as a case of predatory partnership between the military and other influential players in the real estate business." [Military Inc., Inside Pakistan Military's Economy by Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, 2007 - page 170]
Time is crucial in the game of politics
Now the question is that if this conspiracy to entrap Chief Justice's family was going on for several years, why it was revealed now. Many political analysts in Pakistan believe that it is all related to the forthcoming election later this year or early next year. The corrupt and bitterly unpopular government of Zardari wants to win this election by any means. Amid reports of consistent opposition demands for an impartial election commission, the government knows that it would not be possible to hijack the election in the presence of an independent judiciary under Chief Justice Chaudhry who at one time resisted the pressure of General Musharraf who sacked him.
The objective of Malik Riaz conspiracy is to defame the Chief Justice and taint the Supreme Court which is the only organ of the government that enjoys confidence and respect of the people. As reported in the Pakistani media, many high level political leaders of the ruling Pakistan People's Party were aware of this conspiracy.
Not surprisingly, the ruling Pakistan People's Party remains silent on the escalating scandal but three major political parties, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz led by the former Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Istaqlal led by Imran Khan and Jamat-e-Islami led by Syed Munawar Hassan denounced the conspiracy.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and PML-N leader, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, has accused President Asif Ali Zardari of being equally involved in hatching and executing a conspiracy against Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. He said that the conspiracy against the chief justice had been foiled.
Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf Chairman Imran Khan said we know who is the real instigators behind Riaz Malik’s conspiracy. "He is just a pawn in the hands of the corrupt Zardari/Gilani cabal ruling the country that is threatened by an independent judiciary. It has long been seeking to undermine it in whatever way possible," he said adding that his party will stand with the independent judiciary and would thwart any attempt to malign the CJ and the Supreme Court.
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Munawar Hassan was of the view that the conspiracy against Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had failed and the perpetrators had been exposed. Hassan said the hearing in the Arsalan Iftikhar case and the Supreme Court’s “clean and clear” decision would strengthen the institution of the SC.
On Thursday, June 14, the Supreme Court wrapped up the suo motu case involving Chief Justice’s son Dr Arsalan Iftikhar and real estate tycoon Malik Riaz, ordering action against the two. The court has ordered the Attorney General Irfan Qadir to take strict legal action against Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, Malik Riaz and his son-in-law Salman Ali Khan. The court ruled that Malik Riaz had attempted to “buy justice” through bribery, and that he had grown into a habit of buying everything with money. It also declared that Riaz had fuelled skepticism and raised doubts on the apex court’s credibility.
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America.