Ishaq Dar has returned to Pakistan. The last few years, all we saw was his image where he laid humbly in a bed at some hospital trying to prove that he was sick. It was a lie. Everyone knew it but everyone who mattered didn’t care and everyone who cared didn’t matter. But the focus was on the bigger prize: the ascendancy of Imran Khan to the throne. For the first time in my life and I am quite old now, I thought Pakistan was changing because the corruption empire in Pakistan led by Sharif and Zardari was being brought down by the Panama Leaks. It seemed as if the politics of the ever corrupt was coming to an end. Being Pakistani had started to mean being hopeful. The social media was abuzz with Pakistanis living abroad talking about returning to their homeland and serving the nation because the man in charge was the man they trusted.
It is not Imran Khan who lost. It is the people of Pakistan who did. The rejuvenated hope that had occurred with the rise of Khan; that is gone. And that is the biggest loss. Some years ago, I was returning to Pakistan from the United States. During my flight, I had a passenger from Karachi sitting to my left and another passenger from Israel to my right. Our common destination was Istanbul. I was tired and didn’t want to indulge in any conversations with anyone. But the Israeli started talking and asked me if I knew where he was from. I said I had no clue, hoping that he would stop talking. But he didn’t and said that he was from Israel. He asked me where I was from. I said Pakistan. He said something weird about Pakistan, Kashmir and India. And after that it was I who didn’t stop talking.
The Israeli had to apologise several times and even took his words back for me to stop. I was not going to give him such an easy escape. He deserved the punishment for uttering bad words about Pakistan. I put up a good fight. If it matters at all to anyone in Pakistan, but I won’t be doing any of that ever again. I have lost the urge and the faith to fight for this nation where just a few with power rule by whim.
In Pakistan, the czars of corruption are returning back with ever more audacity to do more corruption. The rule of Khan seems to be an interlude between seasons of corruption. The politics of deal-making is back. The disruption has been disrupted.
There is a strange correlation between money and democracy. Just like democracy, money works because everyone believes in it. Without mass belief, there is no room for money or democracy. The two while similar in their DNA have never been at peace with each other. The role of money anywhere has been to damage the true and organic growth and practice of democracy. Pakistan is no exception.
I was once at a government office trying to obtain a document. The official told me how it would take somewhere between 3 and 6 months because of a very convoluted process involved. I was frustrated and asked if there was an alternative. He smiled and in a low voice guided me to another room. There he told me how an extra amount would speed up the process. I paid and asked him to call me when the document was ready. He smiled again and said that there was no need for that. He gave me a Pepsi bottle to drink. It was wrapped in a napkin. Before I had finished the drink, he handed me the document. The 3 to 6 months took 3 to 6 minutes. And that culture of getting anything done for a price is true across the board. If there is an eBay of politics, we are it.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2022.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ