PTI calling the kettle black: What they call ‘tabdeeli’ in Naya Pakistan is mere sloganeering in old Pakistan

Published: September 23, 2018
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Imran Khan and Sayed Bukhari arrive at Nobu restaurant in London to host fundraiser Dinner for Imran Khan on April 16, 2016 in London, England.PHOTO: GETTY

The appointment of Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari as a special assistant to the premier has shocked many, even within the ranks of the Pakistan-e-Tehreek Insaf (PTI). His designation is in many ways equivalent to that of the minister of state, and he will subsequently be availing the perks and privileges given to a minister of such a position.

On the face of it, Bukhari came close to Imran Khan when he assisted him in finding forensic companies to investigate the business dealings of Nawaz Sharif’s sons, Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz. As a result, he quickly became Imran’s blue-eyed boy in the ranks of the PTI, and now has been given the best prize one can get, short of being an elected official; the portfolio of special assistant to the prime minister.

However, the plot is thicker than that. Bukhari also happens to be a business tycoon based in London and holds a dual nationality. Besides owning very expensive properties in the posh areas of London, he also owns six offshore companies, for which he is under investigation by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Since Bukhari not only holds a dual nationality but is also currently being investigated by the NAB, his appointment has once again brought staunch criticism in the direction of the PTI and our prime minister. PTI has stood by this decision, with party leadership suggesting that the cases against Bukhari are politically motivated. They also suggest his dual nationality should not be of legal consequence, as he is not an elected representative of either the National or the Provincial Assembly.

This rebuttal issued by the PTI is neither logical nor does it stand a moral ground, since there really is no way to justify this appointment. For the past five years, Imran has been the most vocal critic against elected government’s hiring cronies, dual nationals, and owners of offshore companies. He has consistently insisted that by hiring cronies our elected governments actually promote nepotism instead of merit, and the resultant trickle down effect impacts the whole society.

Likewise, it was Imran who criticised and accused previous governments of appointing people to the public office who had dual nationalities or were being investigated by NAB. Then how can Imran accuse previous governments of promoting nepotism or awarding positions despite allegations of corruption or dual nationalities, when he does the very same within months of forming his own government? The only effect Imran’s actions now achieve is that they successfully damage PTI’s political credibility.

Furthermore, even PTI’s Fauzia Kasuri isn’t happy about this appointment as she had to forego her US citizenship to be able to content or hold public office.

After all, it was only last month that Aown Chaudhry, who happens to be a close friend of Imran, was reportedly appointed as an advisor to the Chief Minister of Punjab. Now another close aide has been rewarded with an advisory position. Is this not nepotism? Is this not another U-turn by Imran and his party? Is this not hypocritical?

Furthermore, if anything, Bukhari’s dual nationality and his business interests make it inappropriate for him to hold any official positions or be in such close proximity to the matters of the Pakistani state. Back in 2013, Captain (retd) Shujaat Azeem resigned as the Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz on aviation, after the Supreme Court (SC) raised questions concerning his dual nationality. If anyone files a petition in the SC regarding Bukhari’s dual nationality, he will technically be disqualified under the same clause, as the precedent has already been set by the court.

Being investigated by the NAB only makes his future more uncertain, and if NAB also establishes that the offshore companies were indeed created to evade tax or launder money, it will simply result in more embarrassment for the PTI, creating a scandal their credibility may not recover from.

It is also pertinent to note that for Imran, the likes of Bukhari, Jahangir Tareen and Aleem Khan all are presumed innocent and victims of political enmity, while his opponents are regularly bashed and insulted, despite the allegations levelled against both being the same, despite NAB being the same body taking action against both, and despite the SC disqualifying both for the same reason.

Bukhari’s appointment may have made a few celebrities happy due to his role in producing the movie Cake, but neither his skills nor his wealth is relevant for doing something substantial for the development of overseas Pakistanis. On the other hand, his appointment shows that political parties, particularly the PTI, have not learned lessons from the past. Instead of adhering to true democratic principles, they all try to oblige and satisfy their cronies by offering tokens of appreciation in lieu of personal favours.

It is common to see politicians here backtrack or keep corrupt individuals involved in matters of the state; none of that is news in Pakistan. However, what is most disappointing is to see a political party that came to power on the promise of changing the rotten political and social order become a part of the same system in no time whatsoever. Instead of trying to change the prevailing norms, PTI seems set to simply exploit the system to its advantage.

For now, this is just more proof that the slogans regarding merit and ending nepotism were mere sloganeering on part of the PTI to gain power – all part of the same political culture where a ‘kitchen cabinet’ is preferred in order to keep a firm grip on power. It’s only been a couple of months since Imran took charge, yet it seems what he needs most right now is a bit of soul searching, as every appointment and every decision of his government only fuels controversy and makes us all wonder when the mythical Naya Pakistan will come into fruition.

Imad Zafar

Imad Zafar

The writer is a columnist and writes for various English and Urdu publications. He tweets at @rjimad (twitter.com/rjimad)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Nadeem

    Fauzia Kasuri is pitiable. After all these years she is still mourning the loss of her US citizenship as a result of Imran’s doublecross.Recommend

  • Amjad Waheed

    Another U-Turn “Hahahaha”.
    What is his qualification except he is IK’s *** friend.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Dawn has Cyril Almeida …… and ET has you.Recommend

  • Kasturi K

    Dual national enjoying the perks n privileges of ministerial level at the expense of tax payer’s money.Recommend

  • Andrew Davis

    PTI has not only dashed the hopes of it’s staunch supporters but has also made things very dubious as to their credibility. There are so many things that PTI and I are doing almost on a daily basis that are questionable at the least. The use of a helicopter, the illogical calculations regarding fuel expenditure, the fact that parking and other related fees were not included, quite conveniently, I might add, shows that they are no different from the parties they so vocally proclaimed war against .High positions bring power, and power has the ability to turn the best of person’s .I never supooetrd PTI or anyone else. They all are tarred with the same brush in my opinion. Some tabdeeli this is going to be .Recommend

  • Abdul moiz

    Talk about making a mountain out of a MolehillRecommend

  • Jagga

    If anything is done against the law, then he should be penalized. Otherwise, pseudo-liberals should keep their opinions to themselvesRecommend

  • Gp65

    Interesting comment. Cyril is a brilliant and courageous journalist which brought him into the cross-hairs of those that cannot be named. This is a blog. Failing to follow the comparison,Recommend

  • Ily Khan

    This appointment is invalid under the laws of Pakistan. The Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan has already given its ruling in the identical case of Shujaat Azeem, holding Canadian nationality. He had to resign as Special Advisor to the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. SUO MOTO notice of Contempt of Court is urgently required.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Madam you are entitled to your views on Cyril.Recommend

  • sterry

    You have to understand the PTI philosophy – when PTI breaks the law or does something questionable it’s ok since they think rules don’t apply to them. See how quickly they caved in and made a u turn on Atif Mian on the economic advisory committee. They were so afraid of dharnas scaring off the Chinese Foreign Minister. Remember how Imran Khan would host month long dharas and scared away the Chinese and Turkish leaders. The sad truth is that PTI has no plan and the game of saying things without thinking and not having a plan will cause the rupee to drop further and the economy to nose dive. Thank God that the last government at least increased energy production and got CPEC going since PTI was against both of that.Recommend

  • sterry

    A dual national under investigation for fraud is ok as long as he is with PTI?Recommend

  • Tahir

    There is so much factually incorrect in the article….He writes “Furthermore, even PTI’s Fauzia Kasuri isn’t happy about this appointment as she had to forego her US citizenship to be able to content or hold public office.”. Since when Fauzai Qasuri is part of PTI? She fought election from Karachi on PSP ticket. Bukhari has not done any money laundering and corruption like Nawaz Sharif and there is no such cases against him and those who you are comparing with. Moreover, Bukhari has been associated with PTI since last 7 years and he is one of the most influential muslims in UK, has been listed in top 100 influential muslims in UK. So with all that info, he is not a bad choice for PTI.Recommend

  • Khalid Latif

    How much progress did the former govts make in the first one month of their taking office? I had lost my sixty thousand hard earned dollars which I had deposited in a Pakistani bank. My dollars were automatically converted to Rupees, at throw away rate. “Qarz utaro, mulk sawanro”, was the PM Nawaz’s slogan. It was a ‘customary’ theft of people’s personal money. Why is the opposition and a part of media, against the current govt’s actions? If they have alternate wise ideas, why don’t they present those, instead of clumsy and childish criticisms.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Should we go into Choudhary Sarwar, imported from England [with British citizenship] by Darbari Nawaz? As a governor for Punjab. Sarwar quit once he realized he was only a figure head, and Shahbaz ran the show.Recommend

  • Syed Muhammad Ali Raza

    Every time I force my mind to believe that Imran Khan is the one with whom people have expected to bring the so called TABDEELI They fails (badly) rules dont apply on them with dual nationality Bukhari is running one of the most supreme offices of Pakistani government what a shame even PTI’s very own Fauzia Kasuri reacted on it but still they are just glorifying DAM FUNDS CAMPAIGN .Recommend