Ah! If only a Mahathir Mohamad prototype was to be elected the next prime minister of Pakistan. He could change the destiny of the nation, ending the rule of politicians like Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, who have hijacked power for 30 years. They suffer from an incurable disease: love for money that makes them contest every national election since 1988. They continue to dupe the people of Pakistan posing as their saviours while stealing the national wealth to add billions to their already bloated bank accounts. Benazir Bhutto is dead, but her widower, Asif Zardari, and Nawaz Sharif will try till their last breath to seize power as many times as they can by fooling the populace. They’ve faced court cases; expelled and banished to live abroad; and yet they keep turning up like bad pennies! Because their greed is a bottomless pit. They return again and again to steal whatever their grubby hands can grab hold of from an impoverished nation.
Just think — what great gift has democracy brought for Pakistan since the arrival of the PPP or the PML-N other than poverty, endemic corruption, flight of capital, dismal state of human development, population explosion and illiteracy.
Here’s my question for Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif: have you two “lovers of democracy” read or heard Dr Mahathir’s speech after he was elected prime minister of Malaysia? Probably you’re too busy skillfully playing dirty politics. Allow me to tell you: “When I close my eyes,” says the 93-year-old Mahathir, “I see my fellow citizens being ill-treated. I see the rights of the young generation being robbed by the hands of greed directed by Satan. I know I have to do something. I am not one who will keep quiet, folding my arms watching all these happenings by those who have no feeling of guilt.” He’s grateful to Allah for giving him an opportunity to “protect the rights of the people and bring down the culprits.” His opening lines should be a lesson for our aging leaders: “I have reached the end of my life. I only want to end the remaining part of it by obeying and bowing down to Allah.”
I reproduce a sentence from a column written years ago echoing the same advice for Asif Zardari that “two-thirds of his years are behind him and that the time to meet the Creator is getting closer not farther,” and if he can be persuaded that it’s now best for him to “take up sirat-e-mustaqeem,” and pray for his salvation! The writer says he has “enough dough at the banks for the following ten generations.” Tales of his alleged corruption are legendary. It has in the past filled up news columns that now bite the dust as Zardari once again grins like a Cheshire cat dreaming of moving to the President’s House if not the PM House.
And what to say of Nawaz Sharif’s love of power and money! Mian Sahib, you need to stop yelling at the Chief Justice! And instead attend to your wife ailing in a London hospital! Yes, the accountability court will not permit you to be with the former first lady, given the court hearings you must attend back home. But you’ve not tried hard enough to convince the court on humanitarian grounds to be with Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif. “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband [or wife], a child, a friend or a parent,” said the late former first lady Barbara Bush who died recently.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 3rd, 2018.