The devil’s advocate

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Zaheer Bhatti

In Khwaja Asif sounding alarm bells to the political divide of the country not to draw such a deep wedge that you may find difficult to bridge when required in the National interest, there was instant response, as the undergraduate majority Parliamentarians unanimously and in a jiffy passed a bill ‘in the National interest’ raising their personal emoluments by 300%, and perks & privileges manifolds in a country struggling with its economy, teaming millions living below poverty line and living on borrowed time, as the legislators graciously contemplate a 5 to 7 % raise in the salaries of the main core educated public servants in the coming Budget; so much for the people’s representatives’ selfless commitment to their electorate; damn the country for the moment.
Just before this news splashed over the electronic media, I was all set to be the devil’s advocate looking at the maddening musical chairs over the Panama leaks between the treasury and the Opposition these past few weeks; modified though is now my brief in showing both sides the horrifying mirror. The Parliamentarians in Pakistan appear to be totally oblivious of the political scenario being crafted by the Imperialists for this region; indications of contemplated action against Saudi Arabia for its supposed involvement in 9/11 fifteen years down the line, only being the latest eye-opener and an indication of the US Agenda.
Instead of waking up to the challenge ahead, Pakistani politicians embroiled 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 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 money-launderers, 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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