Post-Panama verdict: A guide for those who elect and those who get elected

Friday, July 28 was a landmark in the history of Pakistan. The nation had invested more than a year on the ICIJ leak of Panama Papers that seemingly exposed the rich all over the world. The names that came up were linked with the leaders of Russia, China, Britain, Iceland, India, Azerbaijan and Pakistan. It was the news of a pudding eaten without consent, and a tale of yesteryears of deception. So, the question was, would it redeem anything, if ever? For all we know, law in action is not a sensation but it does sensitize. This case has affected the nation for over a year, and with consent.

The special transmission of the media on the given day was horrendous but also had the aura of Eid celebration after a month of fasting. The news anchors sat around tables like the pious. A festivity organized to enjoy the comedy of errors. The mockery of this country and its population is the inability of the public to understand that. Allies and opponents have a consensus over the title of Friday 28th as the D-Day for the politicians. This gimmick reminds me of the 2007 suspension of Chaudhry Iftikhar and his reinstatement later on in 2009. It’s like a sale day of news where every triviality makes the headline. Not a replay of 1999 because that time held the capacity of one screen going black.  But here, none did. Now that the judgment has been made, Nawaz Sharif had to step down. The karma has hit home, and Yousaf Raza knows it. Verdicts against Yousaf and Nawaz should teach some humility to the masses, masters and the media.

Previously Chaudhry Nisar bemoaned the sycophants in the party, but he played a well-timed shot across the green grass. 33 years in politics teaches you calculation and stability of timing upon every step. What Chaudhry Nisar did was try to redefine loyalty in Pakistani politics. In spite of strong criticism of dictatorial leadership in PML-N, it showed tolerance for a counter narrative in the party, even though every fall of government in Pakistan is attributed to bad advisors and flatterers, surrounding the leadership.

The post judgment crisis has highlighted a bunch of other issues. It has indicated the existence of a kleptocracy of oligarch families.  Here, individual families have 3-10 members elected to the senate and national assembly, confusing us as representative of the people or family itself.  For a change, some new rules need to be made in regard to placing caps on the number of terms to serve in office and secondly, the limit on family members to be elected or nominated to parliament and senate. Thus, the interests of the people who elect, are safeguarded, not those of the families elected, only.

Those who claim of 150 people packing the leadership chosen by 150 million people should rethink their policy of providing leadership. According to a Gallup survey, back in October 2016, 67% Pakistanis were of the opinion that the Armed Forces have made Pakistan proud compared to a mere 7 % who cited our politicians. Not only have we become a resilient security state but have been engulfed by its Stockholm Syndrome. For, instance a similar poll showed that among those who heard about the Parachinar blasts around Eid, 43% thought that terrorists were responsible, while other 41% said that foreign agencies were. So, even if we say that the majority of 200 million people in Pakistan might have consciously erred, it may get substantiated by the recent poll on Ahmedpur Sharqia incident. 59% of Pakistanis were of the opinion that it was the negligence of the affected people in the tanker spill that resulted in the tragedy. The irony of the matter is that either the 150 were chosen by the 150 million through an error of judgment or the judgment of 150 on the choice of 150 million was made on an error. Yet, no less responsibility befalls on the people to elect the right people too, beyond the boundaries of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution. More importantly, those elected to high offices, should also question their leadership rather than blindly defend their every move. Hence, there is no room for negligence or confusion in it.

In hindsight not only is it the responsibility of the government to correct the errors but also act with empathy to redeem the previous ones. I appreciate the government aid to the bereaved families of Ahmedpur Sharqia, but more attention should be paid to study the causes of their perception and eventual negligence in depth. The incident is not just a reflection on failure of the state or one government but a combination of them. At the same time a truck accident on Karakorum Highway went viral, which was carrying ration. People in Gilgit rescued the driver and were nice enough to put the goods back together for the owner. This may sound like a prejudice on ethnic grounds but something has really gone wrong, in the mist of high population density and inappropriate allocation of state resources, where traditional wisdom of protecting the rights of fellow citizens has been overtaken by a mentality of being opportunists and electing opportunists.

Henceforth, the concept of interim Prime Minister, which is slander to an existing legislature with its legal tenure, should be reanalyzed. Selecting and rotating constituencies and top ministerial posts among family members should seize now. And the people too have to decide, whether they want to elect kingdoms or democracy, for themselves by themselves. The act of finally cleaning the Parliament and Senate can only go through the ballot box, not just the courts.

But for the moment:

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men, could not bring stability to a mess that realm has got itself into, again.

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