COMMENT: Some home truths —Mohammad Jamil - Saturday, March 19, 2011

Source : http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\03\19\story_19-3-2011_pg3_2



The proposal from Mian Shahbaz Sharif to take the army and the judiciary on board in steering the country out of its crises is reflective of insecurity, as rumours abound that because of the failure of the present tribe there can be a new setup comprising competent technocrats

Our political eminences have painted themselves into a corner with their shenanigans and internecine conflicts; they feel insecure and fear the unknown. This is partly due to three martial laws in the past and they fear such things can happen again. But to forestall any such eventuality, our politicians and political parties have to deliver, as the protective shield comes to them from the people’s power. And this power comes to them only when they stay relevant to people’s lives. The situation is such that the people are crying for food, jobs, healthcare, their families and schooling for their children, but the leadership — both ruling and opposition — has nothing to offer them except populist slogans, as they are preoccupied with their own political squabbles. There is nobody to listen to our impoverished, disenfranchised and enslaved humanity, especially in the rural areas. Verily, the signals coming from the street are very ominous and troubling. There is a storm in the making. The leadership must change its course to pre-empt this storm otherwise it will blow all of us away and hurt the country as well.

As the people’s distress snowballed over this period, our leaders did not find time to ponder what democracy actually means and what place the common citizenry occupies in the scheme of things. They are swaggering on the national scene vaingloriously despite knowing that the people are not on their side. The proposal from Mian Shahbaz Sharif to take the army and the judiciary on board in steering the country out of its crises to meet its challenges is reflective of insecurity, as rumours abound that because of the failure of the present tribe there can be a new setup comprising competent technocrats. The problem is that almost all the leaders or parties on the political scene today have no moral high authority, as they aided and abetted the dictators at one time or another. They scampered aboard the dictators’ bandwagon, yet many of them claim being the champions of democracy. The judiciary also legitimised dictators’ rule more than once in the past. The fact of the matter is that when degeneration creeps into a society, it impacts all the institutions to a more or lesser degree.

It is also true that power has its own dynamics, the key to social dynamics that Marx found in wealth, Freud in sex and Bertrand Russell in power. Hitler and Mussolini were also elected leaders who were responsible for the death and destruction of millions of people during the Second World War. Arundhati Roy, in her article titled ‘The end of imagination’, wrote: “Fascism is as in the people as it is in the governments. It starts in the drawing rooms, bedrooms and becomes national psyche”. In Pakistan, we see the tendencies of fascism in so-called democratic, religious and liberal parties. Their leaders are devoid of clarity of vision, sense of proportion and statesmanship. In statesmanship, personal self-restraint in the search for and exercise of power is a key lesson to teach. But in Pakistan we do not have statesmen and leaders; we have pygmies who are also vindictive and are not willing to forgive and forget. But they posture as leaders equal to the stature of Quaid-e-Azam.

There are some home truths that must be told, even at the risk of earning some mighty anger. For one, most of our political leaders made their debut from the military rulers’ hatcheries. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was Iskandar Mirza’s find and was later groomed by late President Ayub Khan, who had appointed him Secretary General of his Convention Muslim League. However, despite being a controversial figure, he was a charismatic and popular leader who stood head and shoulders above the present tribe. Mian Nawaz Sharif himself saddled on the horse of the generals’ stable and was, throughout, the blue-eyed boy of dictator Ziaul Haq. For quite a while, Jamaat-e-Islami was the Zia government’s part and so was the Pakistan Democratic Party of late Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan. The Chaudhrys of Gujarat were also part of Zia’s Majlis-e-Shura and his government. Even Pakhtun and Baloch leaders including Khan Abdul Wali Khan and Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo were too ingratiated with him after he quashed the case of sedition and released them. Late Abdul Wali Khan had demanded accountability first and then elections.

Another home truth is that some journalists and reporting editors have become self-styled spokesmen for the judiciary and political parties. The reporting editor of a big media group in his recent dispatch stated, “The propaganda that the Supreme Court (SC) is sitting on corruption cases against Mian Nawaz Sharif is a pack of lies.” Without naming the source, he said that the corruption cases of the Sharifs are not pending in the apex court but are in the Rawalpindi accountability court, and can be opened only when the chairman of NAB makes a request in writing to the trial court. He also gave details of the corruption cases against the Sharifs, i.e. Hudaibiya Paper Mills, Raiwind assets and bank default case of Ittefaq Foundries. He, however, conveniently forgot to mention the Mehran Gate case. According to Air Marshal (retired) Asghar Khan, there were one or two hearings during the tenure of Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, and, despite his repeated requests, no hearing date was fixed. There are indeed corruption cases against the PPP leaders, but so are the cases pending against the Sharifs whether in trial courts or the apex court.

Coming to the present scenario, the PPP Information Secretary, Qamar Zaman Kaira, on the proposal from Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said, “Politicians should refrain from giving such proposals, as the government consults the army and the judiciary on different issues when it deems fit.” It has to be mentioned that till a week before Shahbaz’s statement, the PML-N leaders have been criticising the military for interfering in the affairs of the state. However, they will not mind interference so long as the military is on the ‘right’ side. There is a perception that the PML-N tried to dispel the impression that the party is not against the military’s role in meeting the challenges faced by the country. But the PML-N drew flak on Shahbaz’s proposal. It also lost the much trumpeted moral high ground by declaring the Unification bloc as a true representative of the PML-Q in the Punjab Assembly. On the other hand, the PPP has further tarnished its image by giving a strike call in Sindh against the apex court’s judgment on the petition against appointment of the NAB chief. Having said all this, the judiciary should open the cases against the Sharifs also to dispel the impression created by some that only cases against the PPP are being heard on an urgent basis.

The writer is a freelance columnist. He can be reached at mjamil1938@hotmail.com

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