Everything is possible in Pakistan
Note: This Opinion was originally published by Samaaj.tv on December 14, 2014
By Muhammad Sarwar Khan
“Everything is possible in your country”, Muhammad Ahmad Bin Salah told me while we were walking at Jumairh beach near Hilton last week.
My response was patriotic and I said:
“No brother there is a rule of Law in Pakistan now and since the last 5 years our (Pakistani) judiciary is very active to fight corruption, social and political illegalities and providing justice to people who were denied for decades. Our judiciary took harsh decisions even against our former prime ministers and threw them out of power”.
Ahmed smiled at me and said:
“I appreciate your patriotic opinion but brother your entire system is falling down because your judicial system is made just to punish poor and it does not work against powerful.”
I asked him to give me any new example where courts kept their eyes shut while watching administrative or political corruption. He said he could not give me any new example less than a case where a person who was convicted by courts for 14 year is enjoying powers as Senator of Pakistan. He said he was reading some articles on internet and found an interesting article about a Senator of Pakistan who had been convicted by higher courts of Pakistan but he is still enjoying his seat in Upper of Pakistani Parliament because he belonged to a very influential political family. He did not remember the name of this Senator but promised me to send me the link about this article.
Next day I got a mail from Ahmed who is a simple businessman but has interest in Pakistani political system because his boss invests in real estate business in Pakistan. The tile of this article was “From convicted culprit to Senator, where is the supremacy of law?” . Article was published more than a year ago in a newspaper “The Patriot”. One can read this article to click this link.
I read this article and this was something interesting to me. Since article was old so I started my research to find the latest situation about this case and found different links of television shows, articles, comments and blogs over this issue but interestingly I did not find anything published or broadcasted about this issue in main stream Pakistani media. Yes Ahmed was right this was something really interesting and living in Pakistan I did not know about this case because I read leading newspapers of Pakistan and watch only 2 top television news channels and I did not find anything about this case on these media sources.
This article sent by Ahmed was published in a blog or some regional newspaper but it was horrific piece to open eyes for those who believe that Pakistan is a country that believes in rule of law.
This article was about former Federal Communication Ministers Azam Khan Hoti who was convicted by higher courts but is still working as Senator from Awami National Party (ANP). Other clips of Talk Shows and published articles about this case indicated that Azam Khan Hoti was convicted 14 years in prison on corruption charges but he managed to become senator in the Senate of Pakistan because his papers for membership were accepted and no other person from political carde (from other political parties) contested his election due to “close relations among politicians”. This factor is itself strange that how opposition political parties kept quite over this issue and did not challenge his nomination papers.
According to available information, former Federal Communication Ministers Azam Khan Hoti was convicted by an Accountability Court of Attock on the charges of “accumulating assets disproportionate to his known sources of income” and the court sentenced him to 10-year rigorous imprisonment. The Judge Chaudhry Mazhar Minhas ordered the confiscation of property of Hoti in Lahore which includes a commercial plot, 7 shops and Rs 7.7 million invested in Super Engineers (Pvt) Limited Lahore.
According to the rules, Mr. Hoti was disqualified from holding public office or applying for any financial loan and advances from any financial institutions sponsored by the government. Azam Hoti was also tried by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for another two cases of corruption and misuse of authority. Major case against him was corrupt practices in the Motorway reference and for awarding contracts for the installation of emergency telephone systems without fulfilling the normal procedures.
Azam Hoti went for appeal against this decision in Lahore High Court that kept linger on in courts for around seven years and subsequently was dismissed by the court in September 2010 due to non-appearance of applicant (Azam Hoti) to High Court. The honorable judge observed that appeal was filed without surrendering to the Court after conviction and sentence that was against basic provision of Code of Criminal Procedure therefore the appeal stood dismissed. Even after the dismissal of appeal, Azam Hoti was never arrested or strips of official status and became Senator in year 2012.
Azam Hoti is known for some controversial issues including his infighting with a lady namely Shamim Kiyani who claims she is/ was his (Azam Hoti) wife for 12 years but Azam Hoti rejected her claim of marriage.
Shamim Kiyani filed a writ petition in the Islamabad High Court against Azam Hoti narrating the issue how a convicted person became senator of Pakistan and this issue was highlighted in social through this petition.
It may be mentioned that Federal Investigation Agency of Pakistan (FIA) is after Shamim Kiyani now and stating that she is defaming Mr. Azam Hoti on social media by putting videos of their marriage and other family events. This is another interesting point that was told by Shamim Kiyani to me when I called her to Islamabad. FIA is following Shamim Kiyani in reference to decision of Peshawar High Court of June 2014 in which court directed FIA to stop put of videos and photos that were posted by Shamim Kiyani on her Facebook about her marriage ceremony and other family photos with Azam Hoti. Since this is a court decision therefore no comment is appropriate. I stop here.
She nominated Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Senate of Pakistan and Chairman National Accountability Bureau Islamabad as responders in her petition against them filed in 2013 as according to her all institutions were involved in making a convict the Senator of Pakistan.
In reply to her petition, ECP made it clear that ECP was not aware that Azam Hoti was convicted by NAB.
Though this lady is constantly fighting against Mr. Azam Hoti but she has failed to attention of main stream media because Hoti family is a very influential and strong political family. In February 2014, she filed an application to the Secretary of Senate of Pakistan for seeking disqualification of Azam Hoti.
She submitted an application to the Secretary of Senate of Pakistan in Feb 2014 demanding de-seat Azam Hoti. She pleaded in her application that no court had ever suspended the order of the High Court of Lahore issued on September 30, 2010 and he is convicted of the law and fugitive from law.
Her application is an interesting piece to understand how institutions can be influenced in Pakistan by influential people and laws prevail only for a commoner or poor people. Here is her application content:
Muhammad Azam Khan Hoti, S/O Mohammed Amir Khan, resident of Risalpur; Mardan is an elected senator for ANP ticket. He was convicted by accountability court on 7th April 2003, to 10 years vigorous imprisonment and 1.5 million in fine, on account of motorway corruption. Counteracting, Mr. Hoti filed an appeal with the accountability court against the verdict, which was dismissed on 27th September 2010, by Hon’able Chief Justice Sharif Khwaja, and his sentence prevailed.
In 2012 Mr. Hoti, by concealing his conviction from election commission, became a senator for the next 6 years. Mr. Hoti lied in his nomination papers to the election commission, implying his NAB cases are pending, when in fact his appeal had already been dismissed.
Mr. Hoti has cheated the courts of law, becoming a fugitive of law since 2010 to date. He has also lied to the election commission in his nomination paper about eligibility. Ironically enough he has taken a false oath to become a part of the supreme law/policy making institute of our country, The Senate.
On 19th of April, 2013, I filed a constitutional writ before the Hon’able Justice Shoukat Aziz IHC for Mr. Hoti’s disqualification, with NAB as one of the respondents. NAB has admitted clearly in IHC that Mr. Hoti, instead of surrendering himself to the law since 2010, is a fugitive at large. NAB has also submitted an application with Rawalpindi accountability high court, for the revival of Azam Hoti’s arrest warrant. Since October 2013, but his lawyer has been stalling the case in courts. It seems that Mr. Azam Hoti has managed and manipulated these NAB officers like he has been doing since 2010.
There are many writs submitted by Shamim Kiyani against Azam Khan Hoti are pending. When I asked her to comment over this issue, she said her cases were in courts and she is hopeful courts will provide her justice.
The new wave of change in the internal political set up of Pakistan, sweeping across the masses and lurking in speeches in long sit ins and containers’ playgrounds, might be seen as a sign of hope for the people of Pakistan. However, the fruits of this movement or any other future “paradigm shift” may not reach the ordinary millions of Pakistanis in the near future. Meanwhile, victims of injustice and corruption, like Shamim Kiyani, have no choice but to keep their faith in the existing legal system of Pakistan, the only hope left for the oppressed. As for the mainstream media, well, you need a David to fight against the Goliath of their unrepentant greed, elusive greased hands and badly twisted tongues. “
Azam Hoti case is an example to understand the mechanism of corruption, role of Pakistani main stream media, and influence of politicians over justice system and to know that “Everything is possible in Pakistan”.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Dispatch News Desk. Assumptions made within the analysis may not reflective of the position of Dispatch News Desk.