No confidence in democracy

There is no loyalty to any team but rather to whoever can manage to buy


Imran Jan March 24, 2022
The writer is a political analyst. Email: [email protected] Twitter @Imran_Jan

The no-confidence drama laid bare some ugly realities about Pakistani democracy. While the lack of confidence in the job of the Prime Minister is the focus of the discussion, the real issue is rather the lack of confidence in democracy. The struggle on both sides right now is about gaining the required number of lawmakers to decide whether or not Imran Khan would remain in office.

The shenanigans and the manipulations right now are what the nation is watching as spectators with no ability to register their own input into any of it. Horse trading is going to decide which lawmaker belongs to which camp. This state of democracy should rightly be called League Democracy. And I don’t mean to refer to PML, whichever alphabet it ends with. I mean to say that it is like the League Cricket, which is being played in Pakistan where players from Karachi might be playing for Peshawar one season and for Lahore the next. There is no loyalty to any team but rather to whoever can manage to buy.

In politics, however, especially when lawmakers are elected by their constituency’s voters, expectations of belonging to a team are quite different. You cannot switch sides based on a whim or worse yet, financial gain motive. There is a reason why people are called private citizens and elected officials are called public servants. The latter is answerable to the people, the former is not.

Some lawmakers have come out of hiding inside the Sindh House, confirming PTI’s claims that they were being bought by the opposition. Some of the turncoats are proudly boasting to be deserting their party and voting according to their conscience, which are code words for a bill of sale. The ruling PTI is knocking on the doors of the judiciary to disqualify those defecting lawmakers using Article 63-A of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. A deserting soldier is not only removed from service but forever condemned. A deserting politician might go down the blackhole of morality and come out wealthier on the other end.

Whatever the judiciary might decide regarding the fate of the runaway lawmakers, the sad fact remains that these turncoats were elected by the people to serve their interests instead of putting themselves up for sale. They may not be disqualified by the court but the mere confirmation of their cowardice disqualifies them the moral resume needed for the job. Their secret deal-making would determine the fate of our democracy. This is where we stand today folks. They say fortune favours the brave. In Sindh House, however, fortune favours the characterless. Those who were entrusted to protect democracy have turned out to be private politicians for hire. Many are calling Sindh House as the new Changa Manga but I would say it is the Blackwater of lawmakers. Lawmakers, just like soldiers, are supposed to serve the people but after exhausting public resources they turn around and offer their services to the highest bidder. Ironically, those bidders are self-labeled champions of democracy.

Reminds me of the last scene from the movie Scent of a Woman, which could perhaps be one of the most iconic scenes in the history of filmmaking. A blind character played by Al Pacino delivers an impeccable speech. He reminds the school how their stern attitude toward a certain student who told the truth while leniency toward another one who lied as well as protected the guilty party could actually jeopardise the very values they claim to stand for and represent.

The opposition might just win the numbers game because they have massive cash at their disposal, much of which is stolen wealth. But what they are murdering is what they claim to be standing for through their fake slogans such as vote ko izzat do and democracy is the best revenge. The truth rather is vote ko paisa do and democracy is the best pretense.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2022.

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