Anwar (Andy) Merchant The ungovernable are governingAnwar (Andy) Merchant I could not believe my eyes when I saw on TV, the Parliamentarians throwing the budget copies at each other, having fist fights, and using such foul street language that my head bowed with shame and my eyes started shedding blood tears.
The whole world watched it and my question is what impression they must have formed of Paki-stan and our lawmakers.
What impact will it have on our people, and spe-cially on the Youth? Will it be acceptable to our society if they too start behaving the same way? Is this the Pakistan we all want and our children to feel proud of? Aren’t the Parliamen-tarians supposed to be mentors and protectors of democracy? Regretta-bly, both the ruling party and the opposition are blaming each other for what transpired.
Nobody to my knowledge has come forward and apologized. In my opinion all Legislative Rep-resentatives who participated in this shameful act of violence are to be blamed and strong actions must be taken against them to avoid this from happening again in fu-ture, and I don’t mean just a slap on the wrist.
I recommend that after the next election, mandato-rily, all Parliamentarians, before they take oath, must go through a rigorous course of ethics and behaviour and if they act violently or use abusive language, they must be disciplined.
Any Parliamen-tarian, not following the rule must be given a warn-ing, levied fine or expelled temporarily or in severe recurring cases debarred permanently.
They must be obliged to behave like role models in and outside the Parliament and not act like hoodlums.
They should take the allegiance to work in the interest of Pakistan and not in their own self or in their party’s interest. They must discuss matters respectfully in a civil manner and work constructively together to resolve issues.
Opposition does not mean to oppose for the sake of opposing. Ruling party must also adopt the attitude of inclusion to make important policies to make Pakistan a country we all can feel proud of.
For this to happen, it will all depend on who the public votes for as their candidate and what that person can de-liver.
The irony is that after the Par-liament’s violent incidence when asked on a talk show, why the Op-position was not allowed to speak, a senior cabinet minister justified the wrongdoing by saying that the opposition doesn’t let us speak so we decided we would not let them speak either?
Can someone explain to this gentleman that two wrongs don’t make one right? The anchor then made a comment that this is perhaps acceptable because such things hap-pen everywhere and so this is now a norm all over the world. No Sir, you don’t set a precedence by accepting violence as a way of life.
Pakistan is not a Banana Republic. This must be stopped right on the tracks or else it will ignite like a wildfire in all pro-vincial assemblies and other Insti-tutions as well and will then be uncontrollable.
Do you want this to happen again? In civilized coun-tries the Legislative, the Executive and the Judici-ary, mostly work well along with the support of other institutions due to accountability.
Unfortunately, in Pakistan the system in all the three branches and many other institu-tions is broken and if those responsible for fixing it break this even further, then there will be anarchy which will have a negative effect on this and the future generation who will suffer to a point of no return.
It is time for Pakistan to rise as a Nation be-longing to this twenty first century and not to go down further to the level for being compared with countries at the most bottom level.
Pakistan already has a lot of catch-ing up to do. Please compare and judge for yourself where Pakistan stands today on the index chart with the rest of the world in the following areas: Education, health-care, employment, infra-structure, law and order, women empowerment, religious freedom, living standard, morality, justice, poverty, transportation, water, child la-bour, Human Rights, treatment towards minorities, freedom of speech, energy, pollu-tion, sanitation, happiness level, and the list goes on.
The way things are shaping up in Pakistan, the Par-liamentarians alone are not to be blamed, the public who take law in their own hands or those who are responsible for corruption as well as the Media, are also to be held responsible.
The news in media generally are often quite negative and depressing. There are hardly any programs on nation building, devel-oping civic sense or having discussions about the solutions for issues of the ‘day to day’ problems which the country is facing.
Instead, the Talk Shows seem like watching a circus or being in a crowded bazaar where you can’t hear anything except the loud noise of honking or that of hawkers.
The talk shows generally consist of panels from major political parties and/or some political analysts where the anchor poses question to a person and instead of listening to the reply, everyone else jumps in, talking simultaneously, and nobody is listening.
Why can’t the microphone of other guests be turned off except for the one who is sup-posed to talk? Moreover, after a long screaming match with one another, the anchor brings the discussion to an end with his own opinions which is often nothing short of a Media Trial, leaving the viewers wondering what was achieved with this criminal waste of time.
Why don’t the anchors raise matters of concern to the people and dis-cuss the solutions to the prob-lems with these guests instead of them throwing muck at each other by blaming, criticizing, or bash-ing the government policies during the en-tire pro-gram.
Nobody needs to agree that everything is hunky dory or that everything the govern-ment is doing cannot be improved. The role of the opposition should be constructive and not destructive.
One doesn’t have to be disagreeable to disagree. Opposi-tion must offer solutions to strengthen the role of the government and not tear it apart.
We, the overseas Pakistanis, no matter how long we have been away for, still carry the love for Pakistan and have stood shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the country in its hour of need by contributing our hard-earned money to support by donating funds for earthquake, floods, war, building dams, schools, hospitals or for any other charitable cause on top of our remittances.
We teach our children our moral values and the re-spect for family, friends, neighbours and the com-munity.
Whenever, the question arises to spend our retire-ment years in Pakistan, unfortu-nately, we are forced to postpone it year after year with the hope that the situation is turning corners and the better days are ahead, but it seems like a Mirage, and we get disillusioned.
So where do we go from here.It is a loose loose situation for both OP and for Pakistan. The return of OP to Pakistan either on a permanent basis or for short stay can benefit the country eco-nomically as well as through their contribution in terms of their expertise and experiences.
Let people turn things around to be a win win situation by bringing positive Changes in the country.
Most of us will agree that there is no denial that Pakistanis see a ray of sunshine in Imran Khan as an honest leader and that the country is moving in the right direction on many fronts.
However, one should remember that Pakistan belongs to all Pakistanis, and it is not just Imran Khan’s solo flight.
We all are in it to-gether.
Therefore, in-order to achieve the real-change there is a lot to be done in the coming months, years and even decades.
The most important factor for Paki-stan’s progress is that people will have to change their own attitudes and decide for themselves what kind of country and lifestyle they want for them-selves and for their future generation.
They will have to do a lot of soul searching in the next elec-tion and without taking law into their own hands, will have to choose their right representatives who will be responsible for carving their destiny.
They will have to do the vetting of the candi-dates, check their past performance, morals, integrity, values of life, ability to work as team players and the capabil-ity to deliver on the promises.
The voters should not get influenced or succumb to pressure of any kind from others but must listen to their own conscience without short selling them-selves or be de-ceived by empty slogans.
They should be firm on exercising their rights to vote for true democracy and not a ‘ballot box democracy’.
They must remember that whatever they choose will have a bearing on their life and their offspring for a long time to come.
In conclusion, I would like to mention that several months ago I had written an article about motivating the Youth under the head-ing: ‘uth bandh kamar kia darta hay’.
But after the recent fiasco in the Parliament I realized that it is not just the youth but also the parliamentarians who need to be mentored. If the policy makers are true leaders, then the rest of the nation will prosper.
Al-ternately, as we all know, fish rots from the head, and people will continue to suffer in the hands of ‘corrupt’ leaders.
—The writer is the former President of Canada-Pakistan Business Council (The views expressed in the article are those of the author)