When Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif went to participate in the swearing-in ceremony of Indian prime minister Nirendra Modi, his daughter Maryam Nawaz said her father was more experienced than the new Indian leader and was also senior in age. She was absolutely right. Mr Sharif has been holding the office of the head of government for a third time while for Modi it was the first chance.
But what the budding PML-N leader, who is the chairperson of the Rs 100 billion loan programme launched by her father for the youth, did not realise was the fact that in politics seniority was not as important as performance of any office-holder. He who outperforms others is a better leader compared to his rivals even if he has no past experience and is younger in age.
Just a brief mention of the decisions taken by Mr Modi after taking over would give the PML-N leader – and others - an idea of what the new Indian leader plans to do for his country.
According to the Indian media, in the first cabinet meeting after taking charge of office on Tuesday, Prime Minister Modi set up a special investigation team (SIT) to unearth the black money stashed abroad. Justice (retired) MB Shah will head the SIT team, while Justice (retired) Arijit Parsyat will be his deputy.
"SIT shall have jurisdiction in the cases where investigations have already commenced or are pending or awaiting to be initiated or have been completed. SIT will prepare a comprehensive action plan including creation of necessary institutional structure that could enable the country to fight the battle against unaccounted money”.
India’s Supreme Court had ordered the establishment of such a committee back in 2011, but the Manmohan Singh government had failed to comply with.
The team set up by Mr Modi comprises such former judges and relevant officials that it would not be possible for anyone to save his ill-gotten wealth abroad.
The new Indian prime minister is also said to have issued a directive to his ministers: not to give their relatives jobs in ministries, especially for their personal assistance.
A recommendation for the purpose had been made by the upper house in the past, but the Indian government remained unmoved. It’s the Modi government which is determined to enforce the recommendation.
According to the Indian media, ministers have been directed not to award contracts of projects in their jurisdiction to their relatives.
Fairness demands that Modi’s decisions should be commended.
It is said that Indians have stashed trillions of dollars in foreign banks, and in case the new government succeeds in bringing them back, it will not have to impose taxes on people for several years.
There is no reason to say that Modi’s initiative will not yield results. A leader who himself doesn’t have ill-gotten wealth is not expected to let others involve themselves in corrupt practices. And he will go to any extent to claw back the ill-gotten money lying in foreign banks.
Now, let’s have a glance at the policies that the third-time Prime Minister Sharif has been pursuing.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, a close relative of the prime minister, said recently that Pakistanis had $200 billion of ill-gotten money in Swiss banks and the government would take steps to bring the same back. Talks with the Swiss authorities would be initiated in August and would take several years to complete and yield results.
Opposition leaders have been urging the prime minister and Mr Dar to bring their own money back to Pakistan first, but both the ‘saviours’ don’t say if they would ever do so. PPP Senator Aitzaz Ahsan said recently that although Mr Sharif was urging British investors to invest in Pakistan he himself was the third biggest Asian investor in Britain.
Since the rulers are not willing to take the risk of bringing their money to Pakistan, nobody else is expected to follow suit. And Mr Dar’s efforts to bring back the looted $200 billion would remain confined to files.
Superfluous to recall that the PML-N government had repeatedly assured the nation that it would bring back $60 million Mr Zardari allegedly has in Swiss banks. But so far, there is no progress on this front. Mr Zardari’s counsel said in a previous interview that the former president’s did not have a single dollar in any Swiss bank.
As for Modi’s directive that ministers should not employ their relatives in their ministries, Maryam Nawaz should spare some time to compare the policy of the Hindu leader with the one of her father. The Indian prime minister wants his colleagues not to employ their relatives in ministries, while in Pakistan all important positions have been occupied by the same family. And the ministers have then crammed their relatives everywhere.
Modi’s directive that contracts should not be awarded to relatives is also not applicable in Pakistan.
The Indian media said that Prime Minister Modi had kept his relatives away from his swearing-in ceremony.
Here in Pakistan all family members, relatives, relatives of relatives, friends and friends of friends were present at the swearing-in of Prime Minister Sharif. Still, it’s true that our prime minister is senior to the Indian leader.