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(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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Pehlwans "“ From Street Thugs to National Thugs "“ Story of Not So "Sharif" Brothers

The Great Gama Pahalwan is a legend both in India and Pakistan. Born at Amritsar in a Kashmiri family of wrestler he is regarded as the greatest wrestler of all times. Majority of his sons, grand sons and great grandsons were also related to the professions. Gama Phelwan belonged to an extended tribe of Butts, living in a close family circle. The pehalwans were the real money earners while the rest lived off the side-businesses of wrestling, such as catering, bakery, match organization and so forth. Right after Independence the "Pahalwan Tribe" was one of the first to arrive in Lahore, thus they had ample time to grab prime locations in Lahore. They choose Mohni Road and settled there turning the then posh area into a "protected area" where any and everything had to be licensed by the extended family members of the Gama Pehlwan "“ even though the aging wrestler and his immediate family only concentrated on wrestling "“ the extended family members started their ragtag "badmashi" in their names.

Life continued until the eventful year of 1976. Defeat of Akram Bholu by Antonio Inoki in 1976 and the controversial draw between Zubair Jhara and Antonio Inoki in 1979 was an eye opener for the entire extended clan. Wrestling was dead as a profession and the entire extended family which was living on the sub-professions of wrestling such as catering, keeping the "badmash" out of their areas suddenly found that they couldn't live off the scraps any more. They quickly started looking in other directions for immediate alternatives.

This was the time when the world as a whole and Pakistan especially was going through radical political and economic changes. The political government had just been thrown out of office by a military dictator and a flood gates of heroin money had been opened.

Many of the Pahalwan's extended clan members were already involved in local gambling dens, being the owners and monitors (for being the relatives of great Pahalwan family). Of course they had the "infamy" of being related to the great Gama Pehalwan and his sons who could squeeze life out of a grown man as if a mosquito. In these famous gambling dens two cousins were on the top, Zia Sohail Butt and Akram Butt. They had established a small monopoly on the Mohni Road and the adjoining localities. Although very remotely related to Gama Pahalwan, they had been quite enterprising in using his name and his children. Also, they were supported by their own extended families including one uncle named Mian Muhammad Sharif. After Bhutto's nationalizing of his only source of income the Ittefaq Foundry, Mian Muhammad Sharif and his brothers had to go back to their original business of selling junk and junk steel. In that they required time and again help of their nephews, to thwart competitor bidders. The small family gang had established a good "badmash" reputation of being the real "not-Pahalwans" of Mohni Road. (We will be using the term not-pahalwans to differentiate the family of Mian Muhammad Sharif with the family of Gama Pahalwan.)

In 1979 the not-pahalwan family was suddenly thrust into a completely new venture. They saw small amounts of a new substance "“ heroin "“ making into their gambling dens. Mian Muhammad Sharif, the most enterprising of all, was quick to assess the potential and his nephews Sohail Zia Butt and Akram Butt were quick to jump on the bandwagon. Within a year the not-Pahalwan Family had created a monopoly on heroin in Mohni Road and each member of not-pahawan family was earning a profit in millions. Within a period of two years the entire family of not-pehlawans was back on its feet and their factories were operating again. Being real entrepreneurs, they were investing all their earnings in industry.


Character of a corrupt leader -Abhi tu main Jawan hoon :)

In the early eighties, after that Nawaz Sharif had completed his education his father Mian Muhammad Sharif started him in the business. However, this proved a disaster. As a second option Mian Muhammad Sharif set him up with Pakistani actor Saeed Khan Rangeela to get him into acting (something which Nawaz Sharif wanted). A few days later Saeed Khan Rangeela sent his regrets to Mian Muhammad Sharif saying that his son was too dumb for acting and movie industry. Mian Muhammad Sharif then a cricket coaches to train his son for cricket, but his physical fitness was too low for the sport. It is rumored that by mid-day on his first day at training Nawaz Sharif threw the bat down and left the stadium saying, "This is too tough for me." As a last resort he paid General Ghulam Jilani Khan a considerable sum of monies to introduce Nawaz Sharif to General Zia-ul-Haq recommending him for a political post, who in turn made Nawaz Sharif the Finance Minister of Punjab. This was the day when the street thugs of Mohni Road had stepped on to becoming the national thugs of Pakistan.

The day Nawaz Sharif had become Finance Minister, the entire family's earnings were few million rupees and had only one refinery. From there they went on to: Ittefaq Sugar Mills was set up in 1982, Brothers steel in 1983, Brother's Textile Mills in 1986, Brothers Sugar Mills Ltd in 1986, Ittefaq Textile units in 2-3 in 1987, Khalid Siraj Textile Mills in 1988, Ramzan Buksh Textiles in 1987, Farooq Barkat (pvt) Ltd in 1985. By the time of Zia ul Haq's fateful plane crash, Mian Muhammad Sharif's family was earning a net profit of US$ 3 million, up from a few million rupees. By the end of the decade their net assets were worth more than 6 billion rupees, according to their own admission, nearly US$ 350 million at the time. But this turned out to be small-change when Nawaz Sharif became the Prime Minister.

When Nawaz Sharif became prime minister, the group took a decision to secure project loans from the foreign banks and only working capital was taken from the nationalized commercial banks. The project financing from foreign banks was ostensibly secured against the foreign currency deposits, a number of which were held in benamee accounts, as repeatedly claimed by Interior Minister Naseer Ullah Babar at his press conferences. In 1992 Salman Taseer released an account of Nawaz Sharif's corruption stating that the family had taken loans of up to 12 billion rupees, which were never paid back. On March 2, 1994, Khalid Siraj, a cousin of Nawaz Sharif claimed that the assets of the seven brothers were valued at Rs 21 billion.

These were the accounts of profits and companies which were openly known to public. However, the family kept their side business going all the while "“ the gambling dens and heroin control in Lahore "“ and along with their industry the side business also mushroomed.

During the Afghan-Soviet War Nawaz Sharif's cousin Sohail Zia Butt started working under the drug baron Mirza Iqbal Beg, then Pakistan's second biggest drug lord after Ayub Afridi. Mian Muhammad Sharif and his sons had a permanent share in his gambling and heroin business. In 1990 Suhail Butt won a seat on the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad ticket in the Punjab Assembly. It was through Sohail Butt's association that Nawaz Sharif became a close associate of Mirza Iqbal Beg. It was through him that Nawaz Sharif became benami owner of many of the privatized government entities, such as Muslim Commercial Bank. Sohail Zia Butt other than getting involved in the drug business made billions in the co-operative societies' collapse, mainly through the National Industrial Credit and Finance Corporation. It was Nawaz Sharif's share in his cousin's drug business which he used to buy off the generals thereby delaying the inevitable dismissal of his government.

In 1995 when Mirza Iqbal Beg was imprisoned, Sohail Zia Butt took over his drug empire. It is at this time that he became one of the biggest drug and crime bosses in Pakistan and was nicknamed the "King of Hera Mandi" and at one time all six underworld gangs of Lahore were working under him.

By 1995 family's declared annual profits from industrial units had increased 1500% from US$ 30 million to staggering US$ 400 million.

This is the short version of how in mere 15 years small street thugs running gambling dens became leaders of a country running narcotics, underworld and smuggling empires, untouched by everyone.

Farhan Investigative Report - Nawaz Sharif's Corruption Exposed

Part 1

Part 2

See all part 6 parts

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