The devil’s ad­vo­cate

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS - Za­heer Bhatti

in petty squab­bles and rel­a­tive non-is­sues in­ter­nally have only demon­strated their po­lit­i­cal bank­ruptcy, while coun­tries in the re­gion par­tic­u­larly Pak­istan, In­dia, Saudi Ara­bia, Iran, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are be­ing schemat­i­cally pitched against one an­other, each one think­ing that they were the bet­ting horse, lit­tle re­al­iz­ing that they are all be­ing used. Be as it is, time has pro­vided tes­ti­mony that the Po­lit­i­cal creed in this coun­try has, by and large, not only been the prod­uct of the Khaki cra­dle but also obliged to give its god­fa­thers the po­lit­i­cal face to carry on; less said the bet­ter about the role of ju­di­ciary stamp­ing their ap­proval un­der the now quashed God-for­saken ‘Law of ne­ces­sity’.

De­spite their back­ground the Politi­cians have had the cheek to blame their god­fa­thers for the po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic dis­as­ters faced by the coun­try in the ab­sence of the strength of the col­lec­tive wis­dom and author­ity of an elected gov­ern­ment. But it is also a fact that in their turn the elected civil­ian gov­ern­ments and both their Houses have lacked the metal to mat­ter both in na­tional and in­ter­na­tional affairs. In­ter­nally, when in com­fort­able or ab­so­lute ma­jor­ity, they be­come au­thor­i­tar­ian re­fus­ing to see be­yond their nose as is the case to­day where fi­nan­cial and po­lit­i­cal gov­er­nance has been the pre­serve of a fam­ily in pref­er­ence to abun­dant tal­ent in the coun­try go­ing by de­fault, but when in the sad­dle with a coali­tion, they are prone to black­mail and ex­ploit their part­ners whom the Gov­ern­ment is obliged to hu­mour with un­savoury con­ces­sions.

The irony is that while the Trea­sury Benches think they are work­ing won­ders de­spite de­liv­er­ing noth­ing but mis­ery to the peo­ple with a reg­u­lar gift of raise in prices of com­modi­ties, gaso­line and en­ergy tar­iffs, the Op­po­si­tion Email: za­heerb­hatti1@gmail.com hav­ing been dis­cred­ited one by one in turn in the past still ap­pears to be grop­ing for a foot­ing afresh be­sides hith­erto untested pony los­ing ground fast in his KPK strong­hold, seems to have found in cur­rent Panama rev­e­la­tions some­thing in­trigu­ing to mark time, whereas if any of them must they should learn to fight on their own merit and per­for­mance rather than other’s de­mer­its.

Panama leaks episodes 1 and 2 in­deed have been God-sent ac­cord­ing to the Pak­istani Pres­i­dent Mam­noon Hus­sain, bring­ing to the fore in tab­u­lated form the stashed wealth of over 400 Pak­ista­nis, re­plac­ing the 22 fam­ily mantra with the new dig­its or per­haps much more as leaks con­tinue to bleed. In a coun­try where in­stead of track­ing down and pun­ish­ing the pil­fer­ers of ill-got­ten wealth and mon­ey­laun­der­ers, Na­tional Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion NROs cov­er­ing each other’s cor­ners, the in­fa­mous Plea bar­gains for the cor­rupt and op­por­tu­ni­ties to whiten black money have been the or­der of the day, left to any ju­di­cial or what­ever Com­mis­sion, the rev­e­la­tion would nei­ther make any dif­fer­ence nor re­sult in a tan­gi­ble and de­ter­rent con­clu­sion, leave alone the pro­posed Par­lia­men­tary Com­mit­tee formed to sup­pos­edly draw up Terms of Ref­er­ence for the pro­posed ju­di­cial Com­mis­sion un­der the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court.

Pres­i­dent Mam­noon Hus­sain is only right to the ex­tent of the Panama episode re­veal­ing names hith­erto hid­den and dor­mant as if they would never be dis­cov­ered. But my hunch is that noth­ing will hap­pen be­yond that un­less either the Supreme Court takes suo­moto no­tice com­man­deer­ing foren­sic ex­perts dig­ging deep, and make prompt ex­am­ple of the cul­prits, or else the in­evitable will hap­pen to cleanse the en­tire sys­tem. For those who think that time could be bought to stave off the in­evitable must be mind­ful of the fact that ev­ery­one in this coun­try is at their wits’ end in­clud­ing those who have started the cleans­ing from home and would go any length to bring it to a log­i­cal con­clu­sion since joke has gone too far. By his swoop within the khakis the General has con­founded all ru­mours about be­ing averse to the Mushar­raf Trial in view of soft cor­ner for the Com­mando due to lat­ter’s sup­posed favours to the present Chief dur­ing his past ca­reer. For all one knows Ra­heel Sharif comes from a pedi­greed and dec­o­rated Army fam­ily which did not need any crutches to climb. He holds no brief, nor ran­cor for any­one. And that is it.

But those wait­ing for the General to re­tire must brace up to the pos­si­bil­ity that the next man may be even more firm and per­haps more im­pa­tient to go through the drill. My last piece of ad­vice to all fac­tions would be to see the writ­ing on the wall and those in­volved; which are 400 odd re­vealed so far bet­ter with­out ex­cep­tion pre­pare to clear their names at the proper fo­rum rather than hedge around or wash their dirty li­nen in pub­lic. Me­dia fo­rums are there to throw up is­sues but should by no means be al­lowed to act as ad­ju­di­ca­tors nor vested in­ter­ests al­lowed to ex­ploit them. If char­ity must be­gin at home, the PM has stated his stance in the Par­lia­ment and so has one of his ad­ver­saries for a start. The rest must be left to the ad­ju­di­cat­ing Jury which bet­ter make it an all-en­com­pass­ing ex­er­cise this time, and de­liver promptly un­like the Com­mis­sions in the past.

Ruth­less ac­count­abil­ity is now in­escapable, and if it does not hap­pen the right way it will hap­pen any­way. And just as well be­cause where no one is pre­pared to bell the cat, prover­bial natural jus­tice takes over, which is what ap­pears to have hap­pened, and where one hopes there shall be no NROs this time. —The writer is a me­dia pro­fes­sional, mem­ber of Pi­o­neer­ing team of PTV and a vet­eran for­mer Di­rec­tor of pro­grammes.

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