Articles of the year 2010

Over My Dead Body
Published on April 10th, 2010

These words were, reportedly, used by the Law Minister Babar Awan to the attorney general which led to the AGs resignation. These words, while aimed at smothering the object with flattery, invariably lead to the dead body of the flattered, and never of the flatterer. This is seldom realised by the flattered, so blinded is he by the shower of compliments.

These are the differences that are surfacing between the president's camp and the rest of the government functionaries. The NAB officials and the prosecutors are all being hamstrung by the signals emanating from the presidency which run contrary to the directions of the Supreme Court. This astonishing outburst of naked jyalaism, from a federal minister of 'law' - no less - shows that there is a premium on sycophancy. Unfortunately, for Pakistan, this is not a new trend but an expansion of a Pakistani bent which has been improved upon over the years, till at present the presidency and cohorts have developed an air of invincibility, aimed at proving to the rest of us exactly how mortal we are and lesser beings at that.

There is a danger in the sycophancy regimen that tends to cloud the rationale logic which keeps a balance in the subject. This danger manifests itself on the leader in wild flights of imagination which have invariably led to the downfall of that infected leader. A case in point was the last year of the Musharraf regime, in which the decline was so steep that we were stunned, and at the speed with which he fell.

During the last days of Bhutto's reign, we were all shocked to see the most brilliant of the third world's leader, the educated urbane suave Bhutto, making mistake after mistake till he practically walked himself into the noose. Judging by the number of mistakes he made it could have been termed political suicide.

The pattern is being repeated in the presidency - where the true power lies in the hands of a conglomeration of incompetents, who have been plucked by their leader - President Zar-dari, and placed where they can only support their benefactor. To protect him and themselves from the long arm of the law which is now drawing closer to the finale.

In the mission to protect themselves from the inevitable, and having been placed in the presidency, the focus has shifted to bringing the judiciary into disrepute. Even some well known commentators, including a highly respected human rights activist, have suddenly started running down the Supreme Court accusing it of judicial activism. All this from a lady who has uptil now been at the forefront of the independence and freedom of the judiciary to the extent of having been on the receiving end of many police actions. Has this lady have undergone a complete reversal to her earlier highly and effectively fought ideals? The whispers speak of the ideals being shed at the altar of reality PPP style.

Nevertheless, the main thrust is the confrontation between the executive and the judiciary. Can we afford a showdown between the most publicly supported judiciary in the history of Pakistan? Can we stand by and watch the Supreme Court that has an unblemished team unknown in the nation's history being vilified by media men of questionable backgrounds? We are also witnessing an immense movement to eradicate the criminal past of some of our politicians so that corruption is condoned as being part of the political system. So the question is, if we had fought so hard for the supremacy of the courts why then, would we allow these politicians to make billions of rupees out of political opportunities that are certainly illegal, and criminal? Indeed, this defence of the corrupt politicians may eventually bring about a confrontation between the people and the politicians. That is being witnessed daily in the public protests all over Pakistan. In any case, the threat is growing and may engulf Pakistan while the leadership is busy in their myopic self-defence. At the same time, it is also the cause of dragging down our economy to amongst the lowest in the third world. Can we continue in this macabre dance of evil? Can we go further into poverty? Can our children continue to be deprived of a decent education? No! The people cannot further endure this downward spiral, for even the Bangladeshis have emerged as more welcome in the world than us. They have no problem in getting visas from any country while our nationals have to wait seemingly forever, with endless questions, and stricter conditions and mounting refusals.

Why cannot our foreign minister take up the issue of our student visas, and business visas, so that genuine business and commercial travellers can expand their activities? Instead of becoming increasingly isolated our government must insist that the visa process for Pakistanis be made quicker, and must dispel the impression that Pakistanis are discriminated against. Our Foreign Office has been quietly giving in on all issues to the other embassies, and as I wrote earlier some years earlier that the restriction on Pakistani Umra travellers over the age of 40 is still in place. This is, indeed, a sad reflection on our relationship. For if the hospitality of the Saudis is limited to just the family of the Sharifs, it must not be at the cost of the millions of Pakistanis who are deprived of their Umras.

The smooth passage of the 18th Amendment should be lauded as is, but not at the cost of the far more serious confrontations facing the country. Today corruption is the factor, and to believe as some TV pundits are suggesting, that the public finds corruption acceptable is the most erroneous advice being offered at present. Corruption will never be acceptable, as can be seen by the disastrous failure of the NRO attempt.