Matthew Parker, the famous writer of best-seller (Panama Fever and Monte Cassino: The Hardest Fought Battle of World War II), in his earlier book, ‘The Sugar Barons: Family, Corruption, Empire, and War in the West Indies’, has brilliantly exposed the rise and fall of the sugar dynasties of the West Indies as a framework for the intertwined histories of sugar, slavery, the industrial revolution, and Britain’s American colonies. The story narrated in this book, occasionally horrifying, portrays the worst period of exploitation during the colonial period. Unfortunately, many of its reminiscent still exist in post-colonial Pakistan. The political economy of ‘white gold’, surfacing in three judicial decisions in recent months, also confirms how politics and business have been intertwined in today’s Pakistan. The recent court battles between Sharifs of Lahore and Jahangir Khan Tareen, Secretary General of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), show how deeply our politics is infected with business wars, especially amongst sugar barons, having mega economic stakes. On September 9, 2016, Jahangir Khan Tareen, speaking on the floor of the House, after admitting that he was engaged in litigation with the ruling family ‘over relocation of their sugar mills in areas where he owns similar units’, accused the government of ‘using the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) against political opponents’. Claiming to be among the top taxpayers of the country, he said that “FBR is victimising me because I am a business rival of the Prime Minister”. He further said: “I have secured a stay order from High Court against Chaudhry Sugar Mills owned by the Prime Minister.” He went on to complain that this stay was violated by the mill. On September 11, 2016, after rejection of appeal by Sharifs against order in his favour in Lahore High Court (LHC), he tweeted: CJ LHC has destroyed NS & Co in today’s historic decision, declaring relocation of their Sugar Mills 2 South Punjab illegal. Allah Al Haq hai”. The dimensions of ongoing tug of war for securing ‘sugar monopoly’ and abuse of authority by Sharifs have been highlighted in the order of Division Bench of Lahore High Court in ICA. No1456/2016 [M/s. Chaudhry Sugar Mills Ltd v The Province of Punjab, etc.] released on September 11, 2017. While upholding the order of the single judge of Lahore High Court against the sugar mills of Sharifs, reported as JDW Sugar Mills Ltd etc. Versus Province of Punjab etc PLD 2017 Lahore 68, the Division Bench in Para 30 of its order noted: “The appellants not only established their sugar mills by relying on a wholly misconceived and self-styled interpretation of the Ban Notification and section 3 of the Ordinance, they also, with contemptuous obstinacy disregarded the restraining orders of the Court. This is the bleakest aspect of the case, which tells tales of how court orders have been repeatedly flouted and rule of law trampled upon by the appellants”. Earlier, the Supreme Court in Para 7 of Tariq Khan Mazari and 3 others v. Government of Punjab through Secretary Industries and 3 others PLD 2016 Supreme Court 778 [C.As. 1242 to 1245/2013 12], noted: Mr Salman Akram Raja, the learned ASC, had submitted an application (CMA No. 2977/2016) on behalf of Ittefaq Sugar Mills Limited to be impleaded as a party, as according to him a decision in this matter may adversely affect the said company as it had sought the relocation of its sugar mills installed in District Pakpattan to District Bahawalpur at a place near the border with District Rahim Yar Khan. Without granting the said application, we permitted him to make his submissions on behalf of the said Company. JDW Sugar Mills Limited and Hamza Sugar Mills Limited, presumably the competitors of Ittefaq Sugar Mills Limited, had filed Writ Petition No. 12879 of 2015 seeking to restrain the said shifting ….. It appears that there is a tussle between two different sugar mills’ owners regarding the relocation of an existing sugar mill, whereas the matter considered by us is the determination of the legality of the impugned Notification which has imposed a ban on the setting up of new sugar mills and also expanding the installed capacity of existing ones. Therefore, it would not be appropriate for us to express any opinion on this aspect of the matter which has as yet not been decided by the Lahore High Court where the said two writ petitions are pending adjudication.” The recent court battles between Sharifs of Lahore and Jahangir Khan Tareen, Secretary General of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), show how deeply our politics is infected with business wars, especially amongst sugar barons, having mega economic stakes Para 6 of the order of Lahore High Court in JDW Sugar Mills Ltd etc. Versus Province of Punjab etc 2017 PLD Lahore 68 says: “One of the main arguments raised by the Petitioners was that Respondent sugar mills are owned by the Chief Minister, Punjab and the Prime Minister of Pakistan along with close family relatives. Hence the Impugned Notification has been issued to benefit their business interest. Further that the Impugned Notification has been issued simply to facilitate and legalise the establishment of new sugar mills owned by the families of the Chief Minister, Punjab as well as the Prime Minister given the ban on establishing sugar mills in the Province. In this regard, it is specifically alleged that Ittefaq Sugar Mills Limited and Chaudhary Sugar Mills Limited are owned by Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Hassan Nawaz Sharif, Hussain Nawaz Sharif, Mrs Marriyam Nawaz, Mrs Kalsoom Nawaz and Hamza Shahbaz along with other family members. Haseeb Waqas Sugar Mills Limited is owned by Haseeb Ilyas, Zakia Ilyas, Mrs. Shahzadi Ilyas and other family members. Abdullah Sugar Mills Limited is owned by Mian Mohammad Ejaz Miraj, Yasmin Riaz and other family members.” The above shows that major players in our politics have big business interests. They are at daggers drawn to keep hold on power or capture it. For them to be in power is a matter of survival – necessary to secure/protect financial benefits and/or damage that of competitors. The tax evaders and looters of public money, exposed in Bahamas Leaks, Panama Leaks etc, want power to block any investigation by NAB, FBR, FIA, SECP and SBP for violation of laws of the land. For business tycoons, spending millions in politics is an investment. They know that unless in power they can neither captivate the institutions nor damage their opponents. The writer is Advocate Supreme Court and Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). Email: email@example.com; Twitter: @drikramulhaq Published in Daily Times, September 17th 2017.