Ikram Sehgal

19th Mar, 2022. 02:42 pm

A tribe of hypocrites

Most Pakistanis of any consequence are rank hypocrites; after all, what does one expect from their wealth or influence if the children live in an environment where their elders blatantly do not conform to their expressed moral rules and principles? The British perfected hypocrisy in South Asia to strengthen their hold over India, ironically the British have now become a nation of consummate hypocrites themselves.

Over the past few years, many Pakistanis have been badly exposed by international whistle-blowers, the latest being “Credit Suisse”. Nevertheless, some of them cannot avoid a blatant display of their ill-gotten wealth, the fashion statement being to flaunt their wealth publicly in London, the world’s capital for depositing the dirty cash of the world. The world’s most corrupt live in apartments around or close to Hyde Park. The British expanded their capacity for dirty cash by further cutting taxes for the rich, thus enhancing their safe-haven status. The recent sanctions against Russia have seen the European Union go after the Russian oligarch poster boys like Roman Abramovich and their opulent lifestyle who were never questioned till now because they brought in tons of money to shore up the British economy. Their yachts are now leaving ports for safer havens to avoid seizure. Abramovich has not only been deprived control of the Chelsea Football Club, but BBC has suddenly “discovered” much evidence of “corrupt wrongdoing” in his commercial dealings too.

Pakistan’s banking system facilitates our hypocrisy. What has the State Bank of Pakistan done to prevent fake accounts and to punish the banks facilitating up the line hiding their money in fake these accounts? If they have been held accountable, it must be a state secret!

Incidentally, several hundred million pounds came back to Pakistan from the UK when Malik Riaz and his son got their British visas cancelled. The question arises, where is the money and how did it get to UK in the first place? Has anyone bothered to ask? Have our holier-than-thou media celebrities dared to investigate them on any TV channel, or the print media?

A “Muhammad Javed” has been discovered living in the slums in Lahore in absolute poverty having the equivalent to Rs 4 billion in his bank account in “Credit Suisse” opened in 2003 without his knowledge. Why did Lieutenant General Akhtar Abdul Rahman (my Company Commander in PMA whom I respected very much) put millions into his sons’ accounts in Switzerland when he was DG ISI as far back as 1985? The SBP could simply be avoiding targeting those involved because of their political or administrative clout. That Pakistan has been on the FATF black/grey list for years is because of this negligence. Despite the public counting of how many FATF points have already been done away with, aren’t “fake accounts” and money laundering certainly one reason why Pakistan has still been kept in the list? Incidentally, western countries applying the FATF on us are also rank hypocrites; why does UK look the other way at the tainted money flowing into their economy?


Hypocrisy on a grand scale is the basis of our politics. Parliament, the government and its institutions – all have their share in hypocrisy. No wonder politicians and bureaucrats have finessed the art of seldom practicing what they preach. How otherwise would it be possible to observe the wheeling and dealing before the upcoming no-confidence vote? The same vote buying can be watched before and during elections, national elections, provincial elections, senate elections, even elections of governing bodies of institutions. Nobody is surprised, almost all votes have a price tag. How can any political system, even camouflaged as a democracy, survive or function under these circumstances? And with such people in power, can any nation survive?

Imran Khan has tried to clean the system and to bring justice to the deprived parts of society, but what happened when he tried to cleanse his own stables? They turned against him en masse! Aleem Khan was on top of the NAB list to be prosecuted, while being investigated by NAB, to “launder” his blatant corruption with which he managed to purchase a TV channel. There are few honest people left in society, but to be very fair honest people seldom get rich! Those who have no money have no clout, because they can neither afford expensive lawyers nor buy corrupt judges.  To win an election in a perverted democracy like Pakistan, you need “electables” in your party: those who own big chunks of land and the poor population inhabiting it. The kind of money spent by the party during the elections, is our “democracy” i.e by evading taxes and other means disregarding the laws and regulations.

One can blame all and sundry for hypocrisy, but does one change the system when the people sitting in the parliament are beneficiaries of the prevalent corruption and thus not interested in electoral reforms?  How does one change the system when the bureaucracy meant for governance refuses to be reformed, because it would endanger their own position of becoming rich beyond compare? Most people in power think that they are so special that the law does not apply to them.

The telling of lies has become almost a reflex behaviour; due to blatant hypocrisy, people lie about anywhere even when no lie is actually required. This fosters and sustains misplaced loyalty. Unfortunately, Pakistan, has a distinct tradition of loyalty to be given to the person who has done or is expected to do a return favour. The idea of the “greater good” for the people at large or the national interest is not very popular. More often than not, national interest is mixed with one’s personal interest and loyalty transcends loyalty to the State.

To quote my article “Morality and misplaced loyalty” on 4 Aug 2017, “unfortunately, even in institutions as trustworthy and respected as the Army, loyalty is for the individual rather than the institution. Shielding someone corrupt because of having served under or with him is pure cronyism, but to eulogize him is criminal.  Those guilty of doing so are accessories and complicit in the crimes of those whom they protect.

Given the fault lines manifest in their own ‘comradeship’ syndrome, why should the military hierarchy be surprised that loyalty to the individual superseding that to the country is alive and well with elected representatives ignoring their obligations to the state and its people? Given such misplaced loyalties, where is the morality in allowing such people to occupy positions of power and deal with matters of national security?”


To put it bluntly, whether in or out of uniform (and these include individuals who know I respect them), those who give space to the hypocrites and crooks and come back to power on the strength of their ill-gotten gains, risk being labelled as hypocrites and being disloyal to the State.


The writer is a defence and security analyst