Broadsheet Chronicles

Daily Times

In yet another installment of the sordid saga of Broadsheet, the UK-based asset recovery firm has paid the Sharif family 20,000 pounds.

It is simply standard British practice for a petitioner to pay the other legal team once it asks for withdrawal of a case (Broadsheet has pulled out of its claim on Aventfield properties owned by the former prime minister’s family). Yet, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz is busy patting herself over the self-proclaimed acquittal of all corruption charges.

Contrary to her rosy tweets, the fight to clear her family’s name is far from over. As for the Sharif family’s apartments in London, they were only targeted by the firm in an attempt to secure the payment it was guaranteed in exchange for a crackdown against foreign assets purchased through ill-gotten wealth. Since the government of Pakistan had already paid the outstanding $28 million to Broadsheet, it was bound to drop its appeal. Cards were already stacked in the deposed premier’s favour because the said properties were not in the state’s possession and, therefore, could not be traded to clear its debts.

Nawaz’s propensity to brush all ground realities under the rug in her much-touted crusade against PM Khan’s administration is sistibly laughable. Winning back public confidence in the face of blunt accusations (as many as 76 properties worth $800 million) is crucial for the Punjab Lions to retain their losing grip over the vote bank. Yet, such attempts should be made keeping in mind the highly-informed voter of today who is keeping a keen eye on all affairs around him. Instead of carving mountains out of molehills, the PML-N would fare better by coming clean about the income sources that allowed them to become such great tycoons. After all, Pakistanis would love to know how every member of a family could grow their wealth by a minimum of four (late Mian Muhammad Sharif) and as much as 91 times (Ishaq Dar) in such a short period. Another gruesome accusation is of Sharif’s nephew offering the company owner a $25m bribe to drop the investigation into his household. PML-N’s stalwart should think of ways to contain this can of worms that continues to taint her party’s credibility.

Sharif’s murky properties aside, it should not be forgotten that the Broadsheet revelations have laid bare the “massive scale of our ruling elite’s corruption and money laundering,” (as purported by PM Khan). Now, it is up to the inquiry commission to probe these allegations of white-collar corruption with absolute integrity and neutrality. Only then would their verdicts enthuse public confidence in the state’s accountability. Even a faint shadow of playing favourites would only add fire to the opposition’s cause. They have already been crying foul of NAB’s selective campaign against corruption.

Bringing the corrupt to book is a noble cause; one of great service to the masses. However, instead of seeing the stolen money back in Pakistan, the people have only witnessed botched investigations, international scandals and loss of precious public money. Another complaint of a political witch-hunt would probably be the last coffin in our “accountability of all” drive. *

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