Season of accountability in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan
Saudi Crown Prince, Muhammad Bin Salman, who is also de facto ruler of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in an interview with CBS News, revealed that Saudi Arabia has recovered more than $100 billion in its campaign against corruption.
This anti corruption drive was launched few months ago in Saudi Arabia on the directions of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman.
As the corollary of this campaign, first time in the history of Saudi Arabia, Royal Princes, which were considered untouchables in Saudi Arabia, were detained by the law enforcement agencies.
In the list of detained Saudi princes, some preeminent names were included as well like Prince Waleed bin Talal (billionaire owner of the Kingdom Holding Group), Prince Mitaab bin Abdullah (former Minister of the National Guard), Prince Turkey bin Abdullah (former Governer of Riyadh, Capital), Prince Waleed Ibrahim (owner of MBC Media Company), Prince Khalid al Tuwaijri (former President of the Royal Court), Prince Adel Faqih (former Labor Minister), Prince Omer Dabbagh (former President of the General Investment Authority), Prince Saud al Tobaishi (former Head of Royal Ceremonies and Protocol), Prince Ibrahim al Assaf (former Finance Minister), Prince Bakr bin Laden (owner of Bin Ladin Group), Prince Saud al Dawish (former CEO of Saudi Telecom Company), Prince Khaled al Mulhern (former Director General at Saudi Arabian Airlines).
These princes with very high profile and being part of the Saudi Royal Family were considered above law and therefore untouchable in typical Saudi culture.
So, their detention was clearly an unprecedented event in the history of Saudi Arabia that had never taken place before. This entire scuffle against corruption was based on intelligence reports.
Some critics think that this all anti corruption maneuvers in Saudi Arabia was part of the power struggle of throne carried out by de-facto ruler and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
They perceive that in the name of the anti corruption drive; he has successfully eliminated all those affluent princes, who could possibly create impediments in the way of his throne in future.
But the reality is different from the perspective of these critics; as the recovery of more than $100 billion undoubtedly illustrates that these princes were involved in corruption and the looted money has been recovered from them and moreover, many of them have been released after the payment of this looted money.
Now, if we look at the current scenario of Pakistan, Supreme Court of Pakistan and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) are looking very determined to combat corruption and bring back the looted money to Pakistan.
Ministers, retired Generals and bureaucrats are facing a strict trial in NAB, which were considered untouchables in the past. In this way, there is an analogy between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in anti corruption drive.
Apparently, it looks that the campaign against corruption is across the board.
In Pakistan, there is always political uncertainty and therefore, there are many rumors that there may be any deal or NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) in near future.
But the question is who will do this deal, while the military establishment stands firmly with constitution and law and DGISPR has categorically denied the involvement of military establishment in any kind of NRO.
Some of the Pakistani politicians discern a conspiracy behind accountability and there is a definite history of it.
No doubt that in the past, accountability has been used as a source of political retaliation, therefore, this time they find too that current anti corruption drive is mere a political retaliation but today, the state looks stalwart and unwavering in the current movement against corruption.
So, it is expected that this anti corruption drive will reach to its final end and looted money will be recovered from culprits like Saudi Arabia.
Pakistan’s former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has stated in the National Assembly in 2014 that at least $200 billion was stashed away in Switzerland’s Banks.
This is the money, which was plundered from Pakistan by only few persons. If only half of this money comes back to Pakistan, it will get rid of not only all external debts but all circular debts as well and its economy will flourish.
Pakistan’s economy is already under mammoth crises. Pakistan’s total external debt has reached about $89 billion, foreign exchange reserves have decreased to about $12 billion, trade deficit has increased to about $18 billion, budget deficit has increased to about Rs826 billion.
Rupee has devalued in open market and 1USD is equal to more than 116 Rupees. An enormous amount is allocated more than 25% in annual budget for the payments of interest incurred in debt money and other liabilities. Menace of corruption is increasing day by day.
These figures show a very bad picture of Pakistan’s overall economy and suggest that a very strict drive against corruption must be carried out and looted money must be brought back in Pakistan to survive economically. Other institutions like State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) will also have to assist Supreme Court of Pakistan and NAB in bringing back the looted money to Pakistan.
Pakistan is left with no other option except to bring back the looted money in analogy with Saudi Arabia.
Only a strong will power and compliance of law with true letter and spirit is required by all the institutions responsible for accountability and any attempt of deal or NRO will be fatal for the economy of Pakistan.