France, Pakistan, submarines and unpaid kickbacks

How do you say “some faecal matter has hit an air circulation device” in French?

From Paris come reports of an allegation that the real motive for the terrorist attack on French submarine engineers in Karachi in 2002 was non-payment of kickbacks to Pakistani officials.

At the time (1994), such commissions would have been legal: Before France joined an international anticorruption initiative in 2000, it wasn’t illegal for French companies to pay commissions to foreign officials to secure contracts overseas. The alleged commissions were supposedly to be paid before 2000.

Investigators are looking into whether part of the money from the commissions was destined to flow back into France to help finance the 1995 presidential bid of then-Prime Minister Edouard Balladur. At the time, Nicolas Sarkozy — now France’s president — was budget minister and Mr. Balladur’s campaign manager.

It would have been illegal for part of the alleged commissions to flow back into France — a mechanism sometimes known as reverse kickbacks. Prosecutors say they have documents that indicate part of the alleged commission may have been aimed at helping Mr. Balladur’s campaign coffers. The prosecutors and investigators say they have no evidence implicating Messrs. Balladur or Sarkozy. [WSJ]

But Mr Balladur lost the election to Jacque Chirac, who supposedly stopped paying those kickbacks. The Pakistanis “eventually lost patience and organised in retaliation the attack on the bus full of French engineers, who were working on the Agosta submarine project.” (More details here)

That’s not all. The online edition of the Times of India has a PTI report that says “According to media reports, the French secret service retaliated after the 2002 attack, breaking the legs of two Pakistan navy admirals and killing a lower-ranking officer.” PTI doesn’t say where this nugget came from.

Mr Sarkozy described these allegations as “ridiculous”, “grotesque” and rhetorically asked “who would believe them?” He did not, however, unequivocally deny them. It’s not as if his name is coming up for the first time in allegations of reverse kickbacks in naval deals—l’affaire Clearstream 2 involved Taiwan, frigates, kickbacks and campaign finance.

But there are holes in the story: France24 quotes a family member of one of the victims alleging that the kickbacks were to paid to Asif Ali Zardari who was a minister in Benazir Bhutto’s cabinet when the deal was struck, but in prison and out of favour when the terrorist attacks took place. It’s hard to see why ‘officials’ would take up the cudgels on his behalf.

Meanwhile in Pakistan, the Sindh High Court acquitted two members of the Harkatul Mujahideen Al-Alami who had earlier been convicted by a lower court for having carried out the attack on the French engineers. On the familiar grounds that the prosecution “failed to prove the case against the appellants beyond any reasonable doubt.” Even the small fry got away.

7 thoughts on “France, Pakistan, submarines and unpaid kickbacks”

  1. Ah … more from that thriller-novel called Pakistan. Why don’t they do a Kilcullen already and bring this gripping saga to an explosive conclusion?

  2. An off topic question – are the biggest pro-reform protests in Iran since the Revolution of 79 even registering in India ?

    Does it merit atleast a discussion? Are the facts that the regime has cracked down on the protestors shut off communication n/ws with the exception of Twitter and Facebook even known here ?

    I have looked at the other blogs on INI and i have seen absolutely zilch about Iran – this is a country with which we have strategic ties.

    I am a fan of this site but i am stunned that Iran is not even mentioned here and its all the rage in the rest of the world five or six timezones away

  3. How do you say “some faecal matter has hit an air circulation device” in French?

    According to Google Translate, you say:

    “certaines matières fécales a frappé un dispositif de circulation de l’air”

  4. @Nitin – Nice post. Every side involved in the issue looks murky. In fact there is no spotless side in this whole episode that it almost fits into the film noir genre.

    @Raj – What the hell (pardon my language) is a frappe doing in this sentence? How do they say Holy S***? Sacre Cappuchino? I don’t want to visit Coffee Day anymore 😀

  5. Sadari and Sarkosy were both ministers involved when the deal was brokered. You would be disappointed if you think the French or the Pakistanis,will any time soon tell you all. Even if Sarkosy was not in power; when it comes to protecting their interests the French are second to none. They are driven foremost by the near loathing of the Anglo-Saxon hegemony (USA UK). Submarine deals with Pakistan, Malaysia, etc; nuclear technology to (Sadam’s Iraq) and huge commissions paid to corruptible politicians are part and parcel of the French exerting their influence. They are complicit in murder and mayhem in the countries they sell their hardware and know-how to. They themselves are not averse to blowing up heir ‘enemies’- remember the ‘Rainbow warrior’ ship that protested against French nuclear testing in on Bikini Atoll. Both countries deserve each other. A taste of their own medicine is long overdue. The Indians can tell all about the seamless nature of Pakistani military and terrorist organization if anyone cares to listen.
    Anyway “Asha, Desa, Nesa” …. are poor substitutes for power & political ambition which is almost invariably rooted in AVARICE and it knows no bounds. It is that one common denominator, than pervades the ruling elite the world over, the difference between 3rd world tyrants and the “shopisticated” democracies of the West is one of subterfuge & style. I, for one am not sure which is worse.
    Even that young man (now a grand old man and a minister) who expressed the sentiment that I quote in my comment is mired in corruption that he himself disdained in his youthful days- alas he was no match himself!

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