Articles of the year 2006

The Red Card
Published on January 30th, 2006

Being a soccer fanatic, I would equate the recently announced red warrants to being equal to the red card in a football match. The player in question is benched for the rest of the game. The timing has been very unfortunate for the people of Pakistan, as if it had been taken at the right time, then a new leadership would have emerged by now and the uncertainty prevailing in the country on the guilt or innocence of Benazir and Asif would have been laid to rest. The rank and file of the Political Parties in the subcontinent have long considered their leadership to be beyond the pale of justice as we the public know it. That is why Lallu Prasad can defy the system, and when removed could legitimately install his wife in the CM house.

In our case the legal system as we know it can be manipulated to extend the proceedings indefinitely, so that the guilty parties can walk around freely while loudly proclaiming their innocence, and flaunting their freedom as a badge of this innocence. Their underlings continue to use this freedom as a shining beacon to attract the faithful, meanwhile dispensing the favors through the officers who were kept in line with the 'imminent return' mantra repeated as a threat. President Musharraf tried many times to state categorically that there would be no coming back, but the judicial system was so warped that none of the cases against Benazir or Asif has reached a verdict. In fact the much vaunted Swiss judicial system itself seems to be moving in slow motion. All these factors lent hope to her supporters and cast doubts within the minds of the overseas watchers of Pakistan. The inability of the courts to sentence strengthened the cry of innocence, the role of martyr being played with consummate ease by Benazir, who may not have been a great Prime Minister, but has shown an incredible talent for acting. Even while lying through her teeth, forced an interviewer to back away swayed by her vehemence. A masterly performance.

The Government is behaving in a hands off manner, which does not seem to support the Presidents assertion that she will not come back to power, and it would appear that the wheels of Justice in Pakistan are grinding along ever so slowly--- without a nudge from the powers that be. Not withstanding the Presidents observations the feeling is that the courts could have run through the exercise far more rapidly, and a verdict arrived at ---- guilty or innocent, should have been delivered so that the country could get on with its political life, and the uncertainty put to rest once and for all. The Peoples Party deserves new leadership, but this cannot happen while the ghosts of the Bhuttos roam the stage like the macabre living dead. They cannot contest yet from beyond the grave they call to the faithful, and are obeyed. The PPP is a party, that has a large political machine, which can do so much for the Nation. But trapped as it is in its single minded quest to keep its leaders out of jail, it has forgotten its primary aim--- to serve the people. In the same context the MQM has done a brilliant job in focusing on the issues and away from personalities. In Pakistan the 'National interest' has become the most commonly used phrase in the political vocabulary. It covers all and sundry. From the uniform, to the Dams, the Dr. Qadeer protection, the Wana raids, the Baluchistan mess, they are all in the supreme National interest. I suppose the KPT fountain, having been built by admittedly the most inefficient and expensive Port in the region also has its own protective cover of the National interest, which may have been soundly asleep during the Tasmanian spill.

Finally we may be seeing a new era, if the red card is taken to its logical conclusion, which should be the exclusion from Political life. Enough of the vacillation, sentence, debar from politics --- and get on with it . There are many more in the Party who can carry the Party flag and manifesto --- the legacy belongs rightfully to the people of Pakistan, which brought Bhutto to power. This legacy should go to its rightful owners--- the people. The Red Card should do the trick.