Real estate tycoon Malik Riaz leaves the Supreme Court on his contempt of court case in Islamabad June 21, 2012. Photo: AFP / Aamir Qureshi

People long ago refused to accept slavery and they are trying everything in their reach to get maximum freedom and justice from state oppression. However, with the passage of time, big corporations and governments have found new ways to enslave people.

Nowadays people are enslaved through indoctrination; they think they are free to make their own decisions or equal to anyone with the power when it comes to law and justice, but in reality, they are not. As famous American scholar Noam Chomsky said, “If you can trap people into not noticing, let alone questioning, crucial doctrines, they are enslaved.”

Recently news of real-estate tycoon Malik Riaz, who is considered untouchable in Pakistan, occupied the headlines of electronic and print media across the globe, as he reached a settlement of £190 million (US$250 million) with the UK National Crime Agency (NCA). According to media reports, in August this year a total of eight accounts worth £120 million related to Malik Riaz and his family were frozen by the British. Another account, worth £20 million, was frozen last year.

The settlement amount has been sent back to the government of Pakistan. However, the PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) government, which came to power on the slogan of accountability, appears to be anything but jubilant at recovering such a huge amount from a foreign country. Since Malik Riaz is considered the most influential person of the country and has strong connections with the security establishment, the PTI government is trying to minimize his exposure. No inquiry has been ordered against Riaz, and from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to the higher courts, all the institutions prefer to remain silent on this matter.

The same is the case with most of the TV channels and publications, which are given billions of rupees in advertising revenue by Riaz’ housing society, Bahria Town. The adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan on accountability, Shahzad Akbar, in a press conference on Thursday refused to name Malik Riaz and instead again diverted the attention of the media to the alleged corruption of the Sharif family.

The Riaz case is a classic example of how the state and the system in Pakistan protect the powerful or the allies of establishment and bulldoze the image of opponent politicians and dissenting voices. The money recovered by the NCA and returned to the government of Pakistan, according to Akbar, will be deposited in an account of the Supreme Court, as Riaz was fined by the court earlier for illegally buying government land in Karachi. This is nothing less than a joke, as the government instead of ordering an NAB inquiry against Riaz is playing the role of facilitator and helping him get his money back from the UK. There is no logic in the claim that this money should be deposited in a Supreme Court account as an installment of Riaz’ fine, because this money recovered by the NCA was sent abroad through illegal means in the first place, and depositing it in a Supreme Court account on behalf of Riaz is equivalent to giving him this ill-gotten money back.

Since Riaz is considered the most powerful non-state asset of the establishment, the PTI government and the opposition parties are all silent and no one is mentioning his name. Riaz provides funding to almost all of the political parties including PTI for their election campaigns, so all is forgiven.

The opposition that itself is facing the worst ever witch-hunt in the history of the country in the name of accountability is not interested in demanding an inquiry not only into this matter but also into Riaz’ other practices. So the message is loud and clear: Pakistan has no law when it comes to catching big fish like Riaz. In fact, law is only tailor-made for the facilitation of the ruling elite and proxies of the establishment.

Prime Minister Khan, who has polarized Pakistani society with his politics of hatred toward his political opponents and who always brainwashes his vote bank with the slogans of “accountability for all” and “no one is beyond the law,” is silent on this case, but this is not surprising as he also remained silent when undeclared assets of his own sister Aleema Khanum were found.

This also shows the real face of the opposition, which first remained mum on the crucial matter of Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s extension of tenure, and now it is again silent, as Riaz is also a powerful man and annoying him could mean no more party funds, and of course the leakage of scandals and secrets of any political figures who try to take up this matter.

On the other hand, to hide its incompetence and its own hand in facilitating Riaz, the PTI government is trying to give this matter a spin by again bringing out fairy tales about Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari. This has been the story for the last five years, as media hostile to the opponents of the establishment have been groomed and a generation of people have been brainwashed to hate dissenting views and ideologies and who are happy to be enslaved by the establishment and its political puppets. As a result, Pakistan is trapped in a quagmire of the kind of mental slavery Chomsky warned about.

The fact that Riaz still roams free has busted PTI’s sloganeering of accountability and justice for all. Since the PTI government and its blind followers are experts at terming every dissenting journalist a traitor or accusing him of taking bribes from the party’s opponents, it will be business as usual. We will be termed traitors and corrupt journalists, while the “good” journalists and media, as always, will bail the PTI government out of this latest embarrassment by highlighting the imaginary tales of corruption of Sharif and Zardari.

The same is the case with most of the people affiliated to the opposition parties, who will never ask their leadership why they are silent on the Riaz case. So Riaz will continue to flourish and surely will expand his real-estate empire with the help of his connections in the political and military ranks while the ordinary masses are fed the same doctrines and fantasies about the government and establishment doing their best to get fictional looted money back from foreign countries. This is a new kind of slavery, where the slaves are happy to be kept in delusion and hallucination.

The question is whether this will help solve the political and economical turmoil of the country. The answer is a big no, as mental slavery is the biggest oppression, and a country with a huge population of these oppressed people will only move in blind circles where criminals and their backers and allies continue to rule for their own vested interests. Perhaps they need to be told that it is easier to nurture free and strong minds than enslaved ones, and free minds are the guarantee to the survival and progress of the country.

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1 Comment

  1. “There is no logic in the claim that this money should be deposited in a Supreme Court account as an installment of Riaz’ fine, because this money recovered by the NCA was sent abroad through illegal means in the first place, and depositing it in a Supreme Court account on behalf of Riaz is equivalent to giving him this ill-gotten money back.” If it is true as you have written then I fully agree with you regrading caption of this article.

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