In the Netherlands, Prime Minister Mark Rutte Friday resigned over a child benefits scandal, involving thousands of parents wrongly accused by Dutch authorities of fraudulently claiming child allowance. In Pakistan, politicians and generals have been wailing that authorities have failed in proving they acquired properties in London, for example, through assets beyond means. Meaning the onus of proof was on the authorities and the accused carried no moral responsibility whatsoever. Let us consider Rutte’s ownership of the failure: “If the whole system has failed, only joint responsibility can be borne. And that leads to the conclusion that I have just now offered the king the resignation of the entire cabinet…The rule of law must protect its citizens from an all-powerful government, and here that’s gone terribly wrong.” “The buck stops here,” said Rutte, one of Europe’s longest-serving European leaders since 2010. Rutte’s story as the prime minister of Netherlands ended there with the ownership of the failure. Contrast this with the mayhem caused by claims of Broadsheet’s maverick chief Kaveh Moussavi on certain Pakistani politicians and their self-serving responses to that. Has Moussavi really said things that were not public knowledge in Pakistan earlier? What is earth-shattering in his naming of Sharifs, Zardaris, Sherpao’s, Vawda’s, Aleem Khans, Admiral Mansoorul Haq and so on? Moussavi’s “revelations” only add to what we already know about places such as the Avenfield Flats, numerous flats/homes of Pakistani politicians and generals along or around the famous Edgware Road. Or the Surrey Mansion and the Palace in Paris. Also known as Little Arabia and as Little Pakistan, Edgware Road, hosts politicians, retired generals, businessmen, bureaucrats and anyone with funds enough to pick up plush properties there. Former army chief Pervez Musharraf, former interior minister Rehman Malik, Nawaz Sharif’s cousin Tariq Shafi, dozens of businessmen from Karachi and Lahore – who loath the idea of paying taxes at home – own apartments on the side streets of Edgware Road. PTI’s Faisal Vawda and Aleem Khan too are among proud owners of properties here. Even Shahbaz Sharif owned a place here for more than a decade. Yes, Moussavi did spice up the earlier common knowledge by claiming there were more 100s of millions, at least a billion dollars, stashed somewhere which he could help identify. But, having watched how politics works in countries such as Germany, Netherlands or UK, I am at a loss to understand why Moussavi caused such a sensation? Don’t we know the finer, though self-contradictory details on Azizia Mills in Jeddah to Avenfields to Qatari Letter saga? Don’t we know that a sitting PM Sharif did receive salary from a Dubai-based firm with a resident permit the Iqama – regardless of who owns the firm? And he did not declare it before or after becoming the PM. And what about the famous Khaja Asif? Isnt it a classical case of acute dishonesty and conflict of interest to hold a resident permit and receive salary in Dubai while holding ministries at home? And that too in cash. Hundreds of thousands monthly in CASH mind you. This, in the words of American and European diplomats, amounts to treason and would most probably be treated as such – even if some one was found involved in receiving financial benefits abroad while holding a ministrial portfolio. This mayhem around Broadsheet or the noises around foreign funding to political parties essentially dwarf the contradictions that most political leaders carry in their conduct. Look at the curious case of Bilawal Bhutto. He he owns almost two dozens of properties, both inside Pakistan and outside, besides having 23 of his immoveable assets including shares, investment and bank accounts in Dubai and UK, according to the statement of assets he submitted with the Election Commission in June 2018. Did any body within or outside the party question as to how – some of these properties came about even if most were “gifted”? Did any one ask as to how Mama and Papa acquired those properties? Were they into real estate business all over? Why would they own land in Islamabad and whether all assets were at all properly sourced? Broadsheet Chief has only reinforced the story of abuse and loot of national resources. What is puzzling is that not enough people within parties and in the media raise questions about such assets and financial benefits accompanied the acute conflict of interest that they entail. This is not about the assets abroad of politicians and civilian/military officials. It is about the crisis of conscience that Pakistan reels from. It is the absence of real integrity among all those who get the chance to rule us. One thief justifying his acts by pointing to wrongdoings and thefts by others. Uwe Barschel, a former chief minister of a German province Schleswig Holstein, committed suicide once proven that he had lied on oath about a scandal in 1986. He quietly left behind his five children, a lovely wife and took his own life in a Geneva hotel. In Germany and the UK, numerous instances involved ministers who were caught cheating – mind you cheating like spending a day or two extra when on official tours abroad. Or spending state money on travel – over and above the official allowance. No compromise at all on public funds in responsible democracies. Former statesman and Nobel Peace Prize winner Willy Brandt resigned as chancellor after a low-ranking staff of his office was detected as an East German spy in 1974. Here, our leaders have been playing with the peoples’ money at will – with no remorse at all because they believe themselves to be the pre-ordained rulers. Most often point to the security establishment and its wrong-doings. Well, yes the security establishment and several generals did many things wrong. Pakistan suffers even today because of those wrongs but how do these justify willful misappropriation of public funds, or receiving salaries from abroad? Lastly, what Moussavi said about somebody from one of Pakistan’s leading investigation bodies asking for his cut from a new contract, should not surprise us. This is what is happening around us. Many thief-catchers end up colluding with the thieves themselves, diluting the charge-sheets and thereby weakening or deferring cases. That is why General Mohammad Amjad, the first head of NAB had advised General Musharraf to wrap up this institution. Musharraf wanted Amjad to go soft on several targets – businessmen and politicians – for possible cooption in the new system. For Amjad, this amounted to a deviation from the course Musharraf had put him on. So, within a year of NAB’s existence, Amjad requested to be relieved of this responsibility in December 2000. Instead of compromising his original mission, he chose to bow out of the system which he had believed could be politically abused later. What we see today is the manifestation of that prophetic warning.