DEFIANT pronouncements notwithstanding, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is struggling to survive. Having just received shock treatment from a firm President Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari, who was unhappy with her style of governance, Benazir’s first priority is to check rampant corruption and establish a clean government—and then look at other factors working to her detriment: disastrous economic policies, for example.
Forced by Leghari to introduce a proper mechanism to check corruption, the opposition’s main plank for seeking her ouster, Benazir had to think double quick to initiate some steps to bring a semblance of transparency in governance. At the centre of the corruption charges is Benazir’s husband, Asif Zardari, a minister who has been accused of making money through kickbacks and commissions.
After several meetings with Leghari, both Benazir and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif presented their respective bills of accountability in Parliament. Scoring a point against Sharif, Benazir proposed across-the-board accountability, where not even the president, prime minister, army generals and judges were spared. She suggested the setting up of a permanent parliamentary committee, comprising both the leader of the House and the leader of the opposition, as members. The opposition’s bill had one basic flaw—it had excluded Sharif’s tenure as prime minister and said his role should not be put to scrutiny.
Benazir exploited this exclusion to the hilt. She dramatically announced on the floor of the National Assembly that the cleaning-up process should begin with her. She even brought up the two main allegations against her—the purchase of the Surrey mansion and the dubious Mirage deal—and invited an open investigation.
Zardari, who had left Pakistan also returned, putting all speculations to rest by offering himself for investigations.