It’s not really Civ-Mil that’s the problem, really. There’s something else cooking; something that is redefining the way we approach the mess that surrounds us; something that has been hiding in plain sight all these years.
And now it’s groaning back to life.
We have all been down this road before. Action, reaction and then back again to the stale status quo. But this time around, is it for real? Is Karachi actually being cleansed? Is the PPP really being punished for its criminal misdemeanours? Is the MQM really being roasted for its violence and shady dealings with India? This time, is the party really going to be over for all shades of crooks, criminals, scoundrels, swindlers and racketeers who come armed with a mandate?
The evidence is clearly mounting as secrets leak out like a rain shower. After Saulat Mirza sang like a canary and walked the plank, BBC now tells us the MQM has admitted to receiving funds from India. Then a confessional document of an MQM insider worms its way into social media and goes viral. The sizzler is a transcript (heavily blacked out in places) of an interview of Tariq Mir with the British police. He is a close associate of Altaf Hussain. In the interview he spills all the beans. Well, at least the most damaging ones. Millions of Pounds Sterling received from India, clandestine meetings in exotic European locales with Indian operatives sporting unreal names, and shady dealings with Indian agents to get weapons and training.
This is seriously enriched political plutonium. And the centrifuges are spinning like crazy.
While the MQM hunkers down, PPP types are scurrying away to dodge the dragnet. There’s an exodus of the extortionists underway as the putrid smell of the party’s governance wafts across the wasteland that was once the city of lights. There is muck and dung in everything that the PPP touched. A certain sickness pervades all government institutions and departments. Sloth, inefficiency and shameful corruption have wreaked havoc all across the province. The Pakistan People’s Party of the Bhuttos has reduced itself to a caricature. It would have been funny if it weren’t so darned tragic.
But some people don’t see it this way. Some people are outraged that the military is holding the civilians accountable. Some people are aghast that Rangers are conducting raids beyond their mandate. Some people are incensed democracy is yet again under threat from a rejuvenated Establishment. Some people are infuriated that an effort is underway to undermine a duly elected government. And some people are absolutely scandalised that the federal government is going along with this instead of putting a stop to it.
Some people are just such incurable apologists for elected scoundrels.
It’s really not that complicated. For five long bloody years Karachi groaned under the collective sins of the PPP-MQM-ANP triage. People were killed like flies while criminals flourished like emirs of oily sheikhdoms. Fat cats grew fatter and multiplied like rodents, infesting the nooks and crannies of government and semi-government organisations. And the city went to hell. As did the province.
They went to hell under the protective shield of democracy. Because this triage ruled on the basis of a mandate, it was accountable to no one. It could do as it pleased. And it did. Are the apologists at peace with the killing fields of Karachi? Are they okay with a criminalised police and a rotten bureaucracy? Are they fine with unchecked mayhem in the name of the ballot box?
If the police had truly done their work, would there have been a need for the Rangers? Who’s responsible for decapitating the Sindh police? Who’s responsible for the rot that now defines this force?
If the government agencies had sincerely done their work, would there have been need for the Rangers to unearth the colossal corruption in departments like Fisheries and Building Control Authority? Who let this corruption flourish and prosper?
If the Home Department and other relevant sections had genuinely done their work, would there have been need for the Rangers to crack down on the curse of China cutting? Who allowed the mafias to eat into state land and sell it off for commercial purposes? Who let party workers carve out land from graveyards and build housing schemes on them?
If the FIA (yes it’s a federal agency) had truthfully done its work then, it would not have had to wait till today — under the shade of the Rangers — to crack down on the humungous embezzlement in the Karachi Municipal Corporation.
If the PPP-MQM-ANP triage had honestly wanted to clean up Karachi and Sindh, they could have. They had the mandate; they had the legitimacy; they had the powers and the resources; and they had the time. Yes, five long years of unchecked, undiluted and unadulterated power. But they did not because they were, and are, part of the problem.
So you apologists — wake up and smell the stench of this farce. This mess is not what we deserved; this is not what this country was made for. Hundreds of thousands died and millions were displaced for scoundrels, rascals and swindlers to rule this land into total mayhem? Yes, the military has contributed generously to this mayhem, and yes its leadership in the past has unleashed monsters that ravage this land of ours today; but what do you do now when Sindh is being ruled to ruin and there is no chance of reform under the PPP and the MQM?
It’s not Civ-Mil anymore. This traditional equation does not define our conundrum any longer. What we are faced with is something much more sinister and ominous: the creeping delegitimising of representative democracy as represented by incompetent and corrupt people in Sindh. The framework for failure has a new dimension now, and it is not dressed in a uniform.
Gulp this down, you apologists.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2015.