A decaying state

Cast an eye over the foreign press and media and the reporting of Pakistan and it is pretty much one track

Chris Cork October 19, 2017
The writer is editorial consultant at The Express Tribune, news junkie, bibliophile, cat lover and occasional cyclist

Cast an eye over the foreign press and media and the reporting of Pakistan and it is pretty much one track — and it has been for years. For the most part it is the low-hanging fruit that makes the pages and the screens, the latest bombing, the fluctuating relationship with India/the Americans/Afghanistan and the penetration of Islamic State. The country is variously portrayed as a dysfunctional borderline theocracy or a state about to fail, brought down by the ravages of the Taliban or whatever other group might be fingered for the job. It is rare for there to be any examination or understanding of the underlying and truly fundamental flaws that lie at the heart of the state, and which are proving to be far more destructive than those that purport to be fighting to bring it down.

Terrorism was never a threat nor even extremism, a phase currently being passed through, but the mauling of the institutions of state and particularly parliament really is eating into the vitals of this infant democracy.

Within the last week the Election Commission of Pakistan has suspended 261 parliamentarians for failing to submit statements of their assets and liabilities, this out of a total of 1,174. This is not a clerical error, a bit of an oversight in the office one day; this is a deliberate attempt to avoid disclosing something that those suspended would not wish to be in the public domain. What is more this failure to comply — admittedly by a minority of parliamentarians — taints the entire cohort. Further, one does not have to dig very deeply or go far back in history to find records of disclosure that are clearly works of fiction on a grand scale. There is a contempt for parliament, and for the electorate, that weakens and cheapens it by the day.

As for the electorate themselves one wonders what they might make of the latest pronouncement by the speaker of the Sindh assembly who made comments on a video that went viral on social media which when translated read as — “I don’t make relations with people for the sake of vote. I pee on vote. I pee on vote.” And yes he did say it twice…I checked. With low voter turnout already an issue one might wonder just how encouraged the voters of Sindh might be to exercise their democratic right in the light of the possibility of encountering a golden shower on the way to the polling booth.

Moving swiftly on we must consider the re-writing of the rules that enables a disqualified ex-prime minister from returning to the fray at the head of the political party that carries his name; and the incredible gyrations of assorted politicians as they dodge and weave before the attempts of the courts to verify money trails that were obscured long before anybody had even uttered the words ‘Panama Papers’.

The management of the state is in the hands of men and women who will lie at the drop of a hat and repeatedly so, who in some cases are arguably criminals and in at least one recent case are able to stand up in parliament unopposed and unchallenged and spout poison against a minority group. In parliament. Live on camera. Every single member of parliament that was in the house on that day stands complicit in their silence. Every one of them without exception. Nobody walked out. Some even banged their desks in agreement.

This is not a few rotten apples making a mess of the barrel, this is a barrel of rotten apples that in terms of governance defines the state. These are the men and women in whose hands the fate and future of the state truly rests. The threat they present almost beggars the imagination in terms of breadth and depth. It is not the Taliban and their affiliates that determine the colour of the years to come, it is the elected members who whilst there are undoubtedly honest and decent faces and voices among them, are collectively dragging a potentially great country into the gutters. Perhaps in future foreign observers might care to look below the meniscus of terror, and see the real threat.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2017.

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Parvez | 4 years ago | Reply You seldom write on the local political scene....but when you do you get it right...100% right.
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