Ac­count­abil­ity, democ­racy start at home

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION - —The writer is a se­nior colum­nist based in Karachi. Ali Ashraf Khan

THE Karachi op­er­a­tion was so fright­en­ing for the cor­rupt poli ti­cians of the PPP that its main head Mr. Zar­dari, half of his fam­ily and three quar­ters of his kitchen cabi­net hur­riedly left the coun­try and since then keeps a low pro­file. It seems to be an ac­ci­dent that Dr. Asim Hus­sein the owner of Zi­aud­din hospi­tal and best friend of Zar­dari was caught be­fore he could run. The sec­ond largest party MQM is in sham­bles and its con­nec­tions with mur­der and ar­son in Karachi and London are un­der scru­tiny though the progress of the mat­ter is des­per­ately slow.

Then came the Panama pa­per the pub­li­ca­tion of ran­dom in­for­ma­tion about names con­nected to off­shore companies and ac­counts. The Panama papers’ rev­e­la­tions dealt a se­vere blow to the rul­ing PML(N) and its main share­holder Nawaz Sharif and his fam­ily and we thought that now fi­nally there is a lever­age against the cor­rup­tion that is preva­lent in our coun­try at all lev­els but let’s start the fight against it at the top. That was de­spite the knowl­edge that much more peo­ple are in­volved than the ones named be­cause of the in­com­plete char­ac­ter of the in­for­ma­tion. Closer scru­tiny brought up the names of peo­ple sit­ting in other par­ties as well in­clud­ing the PTI and Im­ran Khan who tries to take high moral ground in his speeches but fails to con­vince be­cause of the peo­ple who he has ad­mit­ted into his party and whose money he ac­cepts.

As we have ex­plained ear­lier there is a dif­fer­ence in the le­gal and moral as­pects of cor­rup­tion. While off­shore ac­counts might be le­gal but they are morally wrong in a coun­try and a sit­u­a­tion where Pak­istani econ­omy needs in­vest­ment, its peo­ple need ed­u­ca­tion and health care. Now the Panama pa­per com­mit­tee sup­posed to de­velop prin­ci­ples as to how to in­ves­ti­gate the Panama papers and peo­ple con­nected to it fail to reach any con­clu­sion be­cause those sit­ting in the com­mit­tee are crooks them­selves fear­ing for their own cor­rup­tion be­ing dis­closed if and when such an in­quiry would start. Panama papers be­came a joke when our prime min­is­ter ad­dressed the na­tion briefly twice in a bid to win sym­pa­thy. His ad­dress in Par­lia­ment re­peat­ing rhetoric of ap­point­ing a ju­di­cial com­mis­sion with a re­tired Judge of apex court, which is not law­ful, was not con­vinc­ing again.

In my opin­ion weeks-long de­lib­er­a­tions on ToRs by the parliamentary com­mit­tee is yet eye­wash. Panama is an open and shut case if the will to bury the demon of cor­rup­tion is not there. And this sit­u­a­tion de­scribes the main prob­lem in our coun­try: how can we fight cor­rup­tion suc­cess­fully when the peo­ple at the helm of the af­fairs have no in­ter­est in it be­cause they are cor­rupt them­selves. And this is not a prob­lem of one party or leader alone; it goes right through all par­ties and the hopes that PTI had tried to raise that they are dif­fer­ent have long since col­lapsed. The prob­lem is that there is no op­po­si­tion worth the name in this coun­try be­cause all are in the same boat re­gard­ing mak­ing money and cor­rup­tion and the only valid po­lit­i­cal prin­ci­ple in prac­tice is ‘you scratch my back I scratch yours’.

Democ­racy means rule of the peo­ple but if those peo­ple who rule are cor­rupt across the board then do we need mock­ery of democ­racy or this is the democ­racy that we need? Long ago have the rul­ing fam­i­lies in their par­ties de­vel­oped meth­ods how to get re-elected with tons of money and po­lit­i­cal clouts, and they have de­vel­oped ping-pong kind of power shar­ing: one term you next term me. That has been the case in the so-called ‘Char­ter of democ­racy’ and this has been the case in the in­fa­mous ‘Na­tional Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Or­di­nance’ (NRO) cour­tesy US.

Of­ten there is a com­plaint that what we lack is a proper leader who would come and put things right. But this is an il­lu­sion. Where would that guy come from? De­scend from heaven? He will come from among our peo­ple and given fact how deep cor­rup­tion is en­trenched in us what is chance that he will not be cor­rupt and find enough fol­low­ers who aren’t cor­rupt ei­ther and thus are able to break away from that tra­di­tion? If change can come it can come only from peo­ple who have to re­ject cor­rup­tion start­ing from their own pri­vate sphere and fam­ily. That is a long way to go and there are no short cuts. Im­ran Khan might have wanted right thing but by ad­mit­ting cor­rupt peo­ple into his party he has lost his cause.

Who will come next? Ac­count­abil­ity and democ­racy al­ways start at home, scrap all those laws that have changed the com­plex­ion of erad­i­ca­tion spirit of fight­ing this men­ace by tainted process of ap­point­ment, en­force­ment and elim­i­na­tion of cor­rupts from the hori­zon of Pak­istan. Un­til and un­less we learn that les­son, there is no hope for em­pow­er­ment of the masses. Here I like to men­tion Ge­orge Bernard Shaw’s fa­mous words – “Now that we have learned to fly in the air like birds and dive in the sea like fish, Only one thing re­mains – To learn to live on Earth like Hu­mans” God Bless Pak­istan & Hu­man­ity.

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