Articles of the year 2010

Wearing Boots or Barefoot
Published on October 30th, 2010

Ever since the NRO was gifted to us by M/s Negroponte and Milleband, later struck down by the Supreme Court and rejected by the National Assembly, we are suffering the aftertaste, which is threatening to bring down the political and legal system that existed before this deadly aberration. The politicians were not the only ones to have benefited but a host of civil servants as well, claimed political persecution for their PPP loyalties. The NRO has since been taken up as a cause not just by the people who drew benefits under this law, but all manner of defenders have risen to defend the NRO as a law itself. Their argument is quite simple, that as the crime was not proved or if it were proved, being a politician was allowance enough for special consideration to put the accused beyond the jurisdiction of the law as a normal criminal. Nowhere in the world is politics used as a shield for protection or immunity. A criminal act cannot be condoned and the law must be followed regardless of the party affiliation of the perpetrator. In Pakistan, Negroponte and Milliband using the considerable muscle of their Governments and a compliant President Musharraf to ram this odious and corrupt law down our throats. When it was struck down, many had already reaped the profits.

With the PPP in power, and Zardari as President, also the biggest beneficiary of the NRO, the defense of the NRO started in earnest, for in case of withdrawal the people who had benefited would be facing long prison sentences.

Today the battle has gone beyond the NRO, and politicians are using this political cloak as a foil to continue in illegal actions. The adherence to law is no longer relevant. Several Ministers of the ruling Party are insisting that corruption is their right.

However it is now becoming evident to inner core of advisers that with access to the unlimited funds in the treasury they can now buy their way to support. A recent move by the Law Minister by making payments to the SCBA, alarmed the legal fraternity as this showed a blatant disregard for the other members of the bar. Luckily fo the Lawyer the cheque was returned publicly , with the same President of the SCBA making a big display of crossing and re-crossing the cheque for return to the Minister.

The battle lines have now been clearly drawn. The Supreme Court and the lawyers associations are firmly behind the Supreme Court. In the media, the voices are getting more shrill, and almost compelling to protect what in reality are common criminals who should be prosecuted as per the relevant laws. In their anxiety to protect Zaradari, they are focusing their ire on the Supreme Court. In their desperation they tried the move to denotify the judges. Fortunately for Pakistan that did not work. However the Coterie has not given up.

There is a growing perception that the PPP founder condoned corruption. Nothing could be further from the truth, for he is known to have chastised one of his Minister with a caustic "Haven't you had enough?" The NRO should be reviled for precisely this reason, the emerging identity of a PPP as corrupt political organization. The late Mr Bhutto must be turning in his grave at the crimes being committed in his Party's name.

Our hope rests with the Supreme Court that must now make clear that the law is supreme. There are no exemptions, and no Pardons. The pardons alone can serve as grounds for contempt, and the "immunity" can be lifted on many of the Presidential actions.

The Goebells' dictum : 'If you repeat a lie often enough people will believe it' is now in the proving stages. The Supreme Court should take note that it is being isolated, and the shrill voices being raised in the Media are almost at a hysterical pitch, not out of fear but of creating a doubt in the mind of the people over the Supreme Court itself, which is the only institution left that can save the country. The Presidential coterie has made it very clear that they will defy the rulings of the Supreme Court. They have also ignored the rules of business by acting beyond the scope as defined in the constitution, these violations should be spelt out. The Supreme Court will have to decide the presidential transgressions itself. None of the other institutions can or will complain. Pakistan cannot continue in this vein, with business at a halt, and Karachi facing a civil war with figures of 36 people dead on Tuesday, alone. After the devastating floods, this disaster is man-made, but the losses could have been avoided. This shows the complete collapse of the administrative and political machinery. It seems Democracy has blown its best chance yet. Karachi at a standstill, the PPP Government, and the politicians should be reminded that in this state of anarchy, there is a clear call for a saviour.

The calls are getting more frantic by the hour, and may be heeded, this time the savior , wearing boots or barefoot, will not be a Musharraf pussy cat. The masses are baying for blood. They may get their wish. God help Pakistan.