Accountability, democracy start at home

Ali Ashraf Khan

The Karachi operation was so frightening for the corrupt politicians 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.
—The writer is a senior columnist based in Karachi.

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