Forgive me for the title in Urdu, but there are times when the best translations do not match what you are trying to say. It is inspired by a famous book for children called ‘Talism-e-hoshruba’ or magic that blows your mind! The current story to hit the headlines is not magical but a ‘thelka’ or sensational, to say the least!
Malik Riaz had not catered for the fact that, in this particular case, his sneak previews to anchors and journalists of choice would result in a suo moto notice so quickly. For once, I think, he miscalculated. The proof that he showed to a select few, on the surface, seems authentic enough of the fun that Dr Arsalan Chaudhry, the CJ’s less than illustrious son, has been having, for a whole three years at Malik Riaz’s expense. If we can read things right, the Chief Justice is quite prepared to make an example of this case, in the light of the best Islamic traditions and notions of justice. Malik Riaz told the selected journalists that he has spent or paid up to Rs 40 crores to Arsalan, implying that he had been promised relief in the cases against Bahria Town in the courts. When he did not see anything happening even after three years, he felt it was time to leak some information to the press, where he had presumed it would remain a scandalous subject of discussion and harm the integrity of the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court.
The best of the best PR campaigns could not have brought Malik Riaz the sort of fame he is wallowing in now. Himself, no longer even the Chairman of Bahria Town on official documents; he is sitting far away somewhere unable to show up in the Supreme Court, as asked because of reasons of health. We would like him to take the situation to its logical conclusion and lodge an official complaint against Arsalan Chaudhry in order for a full investigation to take place in to the matter. Even though it is a well known fact that Malik Riaz is not very well educated, but it is not possible to fault his intelligence and abilities. The list of retired generals and senior officers in his employ make a case study of how to overcome hurdles that stand in the way of getting ahead in business.
Way back in 1999 when General Pervez Musharraf took sudden charge of the country making himself and those in his inner circle instant celebrities, I too had a chance to savour the way this country functions, albeit on a very small scale. I was running a small and ordinary communications consultancy at that time as I do now. But because of the fact that my brother-in-law had worked on General Musharraf’s staff and was considered loyal to him, a whole lot of people suddenly discovered me. My associates and colleagu s in office found it so funny that there was a constant flow of well known visitors at our office, including people like Abdullah Kadwani and Hussain Haqqani, as if I met General Musharraf everyday or could possibly influence him or my brother-in-law for that matter, in any way! In fact, it was the other way round. I lost some business which we had got on merit as PR company for CBR because it was insinuated by some that I was getting it as a favour.
Musharraf came and went and our work continues as before. It was during that time that I also met Malik Riaz. I needed a Rs 8 worth of sponsorship for a perfectly upfront project, which was also being sponsored in part by PIA and Pakistan Tobacco Company. I went to see him and Malik Sahib was very gracious. I came away feeling what a good man he was, so simple and down-to-earth. He agreed to sponsor the project. When time came to clear the bill there was a lot of stalling. It was implied that that it will only happen if my brother-in-law calls him. He wanted it acknowledged in the influential quarters that he had done me a favour! This is how it has always been in this merry-go-round in Pakistan. So much for being simple and nice!
Coming back to the present, the Supreme Court’s strength lies in its moral propriety and so far it has come out well. Perhaps, there is a reason for everything. Perhaps, and we certainly hope it happens; there will be no cover ups for all the other famous, erring sons of the powerful. Perhaps, this might set us on the road to change that we so crave for. While we have a list of all those who stand to benefit if the Chief Justice and the superior judiciary is weakened, we need to have the complete low down on all the favours and bounties that Malik Riaz has bestowed on different people in different institutions to keep things smooth for himself. The gifts and the foreign tours, the works. It is our right to know. Those are the lists that need to be exposed. It is also important if we are to change in the future. It is one heck of an unlearning to do but unlearn we must, to develop a culture of merit and justice for all!
The writer is a public relations and event management professional based in Islamabad.