All developing countries face myriad issues on a day-to-day, short and long-term basis, and Pakistan is no exception. While there are economic, logistical and infrastructural concerns that beset the lives of all Pakistanis irrespective of class, there are certain factors that highlight the paucity of what should be in abundance in Pakistan. Nah, not the coal and copper reserves our optimistic leaders keep harping on about when eulogising the untapped potential of Pakistan — they all have either ignored, plundered or have wily dreams to plunder. And that too in ways that would put The Wolf of Wall Street to shame. The thing that baffles me on any given day is the sheer audacity and shamelessness of people in power. And the inability of the system to keep that in check, the courts to penalise, the media to pursue with an open mind, and a journalistic ethos that is not merely investigative but is thorough, consistent and transparent.
Everyone knows what goes on here, but people with power tend to get away with everything, and that, my dear compatriots, is something that is gnawing at Pakistan’s facade of being a nation that promises to march forward and make a clean name for itself in the next 150 years or so, give or take a few thousand dead militants in Waziristan, 12-hour power outages, and chaos at the Line of Control.
When you see Army Chief General Raheel Sharif spending his Eid with troops, fighting that evil called the TTP in its hydra-dimensional ferocity, you have nothing but praise for him. When you watch a general with fewer stars, explaining the intricacies of the clean-Karachi operation, you nod in agreement. When you read about military courts busy in eradication of killers of innocent Pakistanis, despite your reservations about the establishment of military institutions in a democratic set-up, you acknowledge that some have the capability to do the job better than others. In a democratic polity, the coverage given to military actions is not so much an indication of the control the military establishment exercises in the power dynamic of Pakistan, than an in-your-face declaration of how enfeebled the civilian leadership is.
Put aside the bogeyman of the man-in-khaki for a bit, and smell the reality, which stinks worse than a sewer in monsoon. Stop blaming the military coups and more-than-three decades of military dictatorship. Being a vehement critic of military rule in a democracy, I cringe at where things stand today. Be it PML-N, PPP, MQM, or PTI, they all seem to be embroiled in intra-party or petty issues that make a mockery of the real issues affecting Pakistan. While a country with various addressable matters on a regional and international level still operates without a foreign minister, an 86-year-old Sartaj Aziz oversees the National Security Adviser portfolio that should be with someone younger, more focused and more far-sighted about the internal and external security paradigm of Pakistan. And Nawaz Sharif spends Eid in Saudi Arabia after his Ramazan-aitkaaf, instead of speaking to his countrymen on the first Eid post much tragedy in Pakistan.
Instead of playing the role of opposition and keeping with the longevity of its existence and principles, the PPP is entangled in controversies that read like shenanigans from a ‘C’-grade Hollywood film. From allegations of necklace-siphoning to money-laundering to nikahs that were-or-were-not, to who-controls-PPP, the party that should be setting yardsticks of governance with regard to its contribution to Pakistan politics is floundering in a cesspool of its own making.
What is to be said about the MQM, which instead of working for the common people of Karachi has ended up becoming the Gabbar Singh of the city, a ‘menace’ that must be tackled, law be followed or twisted to achieve that mission.
And then there is the PTI and Imran Khan, the man millions looked at to dry-clean Pakistan to its core values, but who does not seem to progress beyond making noises about 35 punctures, DJ Butt’s rona-dhona, allegations against PTI leaders, and a judicial commission that may not give answers Khan wishes for. Pakistan may have a cleaner election in 2018, but at the moment, Khan has enmeshed himself in too many rash statements, on their clumsy retractions, and on photo-ops that beget beaming selfies but not many constructive follow-ups.
And then you wonder why the yalghaar of faujis is heard more than the speeches of civvies? Man up, guys, and get your act in order. And hire better PR firms. Pakistan is a democracy, and no one can take that away from us. Just prove to us that you are worthy of the confidence we reposed in you, and live up to our vote that elected you to power.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2015.
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