By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi
Disclaimer: This is a perspective based on some unsubstantiated claims, some circumstantial evidence and some deductions.
Apparently the only NRO offered to The Sharif’s by the Saudis stands for “No Refunds Offered”.
From what I’ve heard and been told, unsubstantiated of course as no one’s privy to the discussions, but based on current circumstantial evidence and some whispers, the Sharifs are being questioned about their wealth in Saudi Arabia and it’s source.
This follows a similar pattern, apparently earlier done with former PM of Bangladesh, Khaleda Zia, who has allegedly signed over several billion dollars of her wealth to the Saudi Exchequer, because she was unable to substantiate the source of her wealth and assets she had in Saudi Arabia.
The Sharifs, as is now fairly well known, have been using Saudi Arabia as their “money laundering clearing house” for quite some time.
Most of their ill gotten funds, plundered from Pakistan were routed to Saudi Arabia from other Gulf countries, especially UAE and Qatar and channeled into their accounts in Saudi Arabia. From there, as the story goes, these funds made their way to the UK and whenever required, routed back to Pakistan as gift transfers by his sons to him.
This was a really neat and tidy operation till things started to unravel. The biggest loss was the death of King Abdullah, their patron in chief and the subsequent coming into power of MBS who was unencumbered by any past relationships with or obligations to the Sharifs.
If anything MBS, as I’ve been told, has a very poor opinion of them, and is also terribly displeased with Nawaz, in particular, for NOT delivering on his commitment to provide troops for MBS’s Yemen misadventure, scuttled by the Army’s refusal to do so.
Qatar is also a factor. A substantial part of the Sharifs wealth in recent years has originated by awarding contracts to Qatari companies fronted by the effervescent Saif ur Rahman and Qatari Prince Jassem, the author of the two infamous Qatari letters showing Nawaz’s money trail during his hearing by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the Panama case.
The Saudis and especially MBS would love to squeeze this particular portion of the Sharifs wealth.
So Nawaz was the brother who was “summoned” to explain the sources and means of the Sharifs wealth in Saudi Arabia. Apparently he got cold feet, given the recent arrest and incarceration of several hundred princes, including Prince Waleed Bin Talal, who has reportedly signed over 95% of his wealth to the Saudi Exchequer.
So the younger Sharif was sent, Nawaz excusing himself due to some very “important political commitments” in Pakistan. Some say the meeting between the NSA with Nawaz Sharif was also in the same context, apparently to discuss eventualities. Unsubstantiated though!
After being given an all clear by Shahbaz he’s also flown to Saudi Arabia to explain his wealth. The apparent inevitable end is that he will be signing off a substantial if not his entire wealth to the Saudis.
Now this is one heck of a story, if true.
And if it’s our standard NRO then boy oh boy are we in trouble and is the Army in even bigger trouble for allowing or facilitating this.
If Gen. Bajwa by any stretch of expediency or compromise does this, he would have signed a death knell for Pakistan and himself and his institution. So beware!
– Haider Mehdi