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Issue No 18, Nov 18-24, 2002 | ISSN:1684-2075 | satribune.com

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Musharraf’s Double Standards of Favoritism

Wasim Sajjad off the Hook, while others rot in jail

By Maryam Hussain

ISLAMABAD: General Pervez Musharraf has forgiven ex-Senate Chairman Wasim Sajjad for misusing government cars and telephones to the tune of millions of rupees while on similar “crimes” several other politicians are rotting in jail, condemned for years.

Shamelessly, instead of paying the bills for private over-use of official phones, Wasim Sajjad sent a petition to the President to waive his dues, a write off which would automatically disqualify him from contesting any election, including the Senate polls he desperately wants to contest on King’s Party ticket.

Speaker of the old National Assembly, PPP leader Yusuf Raza Gilani is serving a 10-year sentence for misusing telephones and cars, exactly something what ex-Senate chairman Wasim Sajjad has done. But Musharraf never considered granting amnesty to Gilani, neither did he seek one. When Sajjad was asked about Gilani's sentence some timeback, he prayed for the ex-speaker.

Likewise a Balochistan Minister is also in jail for similar misuse of official facilities and so is the case with PPP leader from Lahore Jehangir Badr.

When all these politicians did something wrong, they were made to pay for their misdeeds, but not so with Wasim Sajjad, who is turning out to be some kind of a sacred cow for the army.

Musharraf ordered Sajjad to pay a token Rs 5,000 ignoring the Senate secretariat advice against the waiver of millions of rupees outstanding against the former chairman. The Secretariat had told the president he had no powers to take this controversial decision which has already been opposed by the Public Accounts Committee.

The Secretary Senate in a crucial letter to the Chief Executive Secretariat had pointed out: “I have not been able to lay my hands on any precedent on the subject that could establish that President was empowered to do this favor.” Click to see Senate Secretariat Letter Page1 | Page2 | Page3

The President was also told that it was not advisable to grant this waiver to Wasim Sajjad, specially after the National Assembly had come into being. Before the Assembly, the President could use the powers of the Speaker.

The President had sought Senate comments after Wasim Sajjad met him twice in the President’s House to request him to get the huge money written off, to enable him to contest the Senate election.

October 10 polls had practically blocked all chances of Wasim Sajjad to get back into the Senate, even though President Musharraf wanted to see him back as chairman after writing off his unpaid bills.

The Former chairman Senate was earlier found guilty of misuse of official vehicles and phones by the Public Accounts Committee and was asked to pay millions of rupees but he refused fearing disqualification from holding public office or getting barred from contesting the senate election.

He first appealed to the PAC to reconsider its decision. When, the PAC refused to oblige him, he met the President and submitted his request for a waiver. Wasim Sajjad was of the view that he had done nothing wrong and had used his powers available to him under Senate rules. He also pointed out that the Principal Accounting Secretaries and Senate secretaries must be responsible for such acts as they used to execute these decisions. On the same grounds, he had sought a waiver from the President.

The ex-chairman was in full knowledge of the misuse of government cars and phones but he never stopped the misuse until bills totaling millions of rupees piled up and were paid by the tax-payers.

The Secretary Senate said that since the ex-chairman through this representation had tried to place the burden of decision making only on the then secretaries/PAO, it would only be fair if the concerned secretaries were also afforded an opportunity, along with the ex-chairman to explain their position.

It is yet to be seen whether the action of General Musharraf would provide Wasim Sajjad enough legal room to contest for a Senate seat.

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