“You can fool all of the people some of time; you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.” Attributed to Abraham Lincoln in The New York Times, 27 August 1887.”
THIS statement sounds fairly logical, easily understandable by a common mind. However, it is ironic to witness that most people in Pakistani society, particularly politicians are unfamiliar with the validity of the statement of a great leader of human history. Every citizen of the country is accountable to the state for his means of earning and assets in possession. It is one of the prime roles of the investigative institutions of the country to keep check on those who hold chair in public offices. It is equally imperative upon public office holders to provide truthful account of all delegated state resources and powers when questioned by the investigative authorities.
At lower and middle levels investigation against misappropriation in a public office is generally conducted and concluded swiftly and the accused faces punitive action. Unfortunately, probe against office holders in high and top tiers, in most situations, are beyond the scope and reach of investigative authorities. Attitude and conduct of those having common public support, power or influence, is quite different from the rest in the society. They erroneously believe themselves above the law, and not questionable by any state institutions. Unethical self assumed sense of superiority leads to ugly display of public misconduct, misbehaviour and ultimate flagrant trampling of law. Ugly incidents of disrespect for the law are frequently shown by cameras of private TV channels in this society.
A new and venomously more dangerous dimension to the unruly, unethical and undemocratic attitude has also been added, and that is twisting of the fact(s) to suit to one’s need and desire to achieve certain objective in sight. A common person when questioned, generally answers in simple and straight words, public leaders in this society seldom give straight answer to a simple and straight forward question, instead they reply with something mind boggling.
In a bid to refresh the memories of the readers with some statements of political elites of Pakistan, here are some statements not from a distant past. When someone holding the highest public office chair was questioned about his association with a palace in the UK, to this question his answer was “asking this question is equivalent to putting his wife’s grave on trial”. Most amusing is the reply of one of the convicts of famous Panama leak case, he was asked to clarify his position on corruption charges levelled against him by the supreme court of Pakistan, and he replied “two-nation theory is under attack”.
Unfortunately access to electronic media is restricted only to certain class of the society, a class which enjoys political clout, power, influence and wealth. Legitimate and free access to powerful electronic media is not available to a common man to express his genuine grievances, concerns and views. In a true democratic set-up every citizen has equal right to express his opinion, particularly about those in whose hands rest his destiny. Twisting a statement to conceal the truth is repugnant and abhorrent to a rational mind. Seldom in human history a great public leader suffered drastically diminished support after he accepted his fault, instead he then emerged as even more popular. Every man makes mistake, and a great man after making mistake, honestly accepts it and sets his course right to redress his error or mistake. Error or mistake is generally unintentional, but covering it up is criminal and sinister.
Truth, like a fluid, is bound to flow out eventually and proves damaging, eroding the credibility of the person trying to conceal the truth. Credibility and integrity of the personality together are the true strength of a gentleman. Pakistan, believed by its founding leaders to be a great country and a model Islamic state on the map of the world, has unfortunately spent most years of its life in turbulence. This most beautiful and resource rich country deserves to be run in a gentleman style by the gentlemen who posses in them honesty, integrity and courage to speak the truth privately and publicly. The culture of “Twisted Statement” will certainly not help to groom and strengthen the sapling of democracy in Pakistan.
—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Islamabad.