Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Riff-raff Politicians of Pakistan

The Riff-raff Politicians of Pakistan
By Saeed Qureshi
Pakistan is once again in the eye of a gathering political storm. The PPP in power and the PMLN as the runner-up in the political arena are poised against each other, girding up their loins for a big fight. In the meantime the poor Pakistanis, women, men and children alike, are spending their days in long queues for cheaper flour and other essential items of daily use. Such is the abysmal state of affairs in Pakistan.
Concurrently, a whole lot of politicians mostly from PMLN and others in the opposition have been labeled as the recipients of graft money sent to them by the presidency and delivered to them some 17 years ago by moles of the ISI and DIB to join IJI a right bulwark against the PPP’s left leaning government. These high profile but now retired officials from both the dreaded, king maker intelligence agencies are brazenly spilling the beans on the electronic media and making thumping claims for the dirty work they did at the behest of certain forces, including president Ishaq Khan or who knows on their own volition.
Although this much belated disclosures are tendentious and politically motivated, yet these candidly bring home the point that if Zardari and his colleagues are corrupt who is not. It looks like a massive move that unfolds the unholy alliance of Pakistan army generals, intelligence agencies bosses, and corrupt politicians to dislodge a democratically elected government. And that was not the only event. There has been a trail of palace intrigues to derail the popularly elected dispensations. It is this double-faced role of our depraved elitist classes that deprived Pakistan from being a stable, democratic and institutional based country. Will these politicians be prosecuted despite the lapse of time?
Pakistan is rife with a potpourri of multiple problems that are being compounded by the unworthy conduct of the leaders in power. These leaders have adopted a course of puerile, undignified political theatrics and jingoism. They seem to be impervious to the fact that by doing so they are driving their desperate nation to a breaking point. The semblance of unity that was rarely visible after the arrival, two years ago, of both Nawaz Sharif and late Benazir Bhutto has been thrown to the winds. That unity augmented by the massive agitation of lawyers and civil society has melted away like the flakes of snow in the light of the blazing sun. The political adversaries are aggressively engaged in browbeating and downgrading each other for unedifying reasons. Their mutual bickering is making a mess of a democratic system that was installed with the common consent of all the political players then challenging the autocracy of Pervez Mushrraf and his ill conceived decisions such as the imposition of emergency and sacking of the un-obliging members of judiciary.
After assuming power, the Pakistan People’s Party has been dragging its feet on certain issues settled with PMLN: the second place winner in the last general elections. The several accords reached and inked between them have been ruefully put on the back burner by PPP. Queer and flimsy excuses are being put forward to stall and reinterpret these agreements. The London Agreement between Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, the Murree Declaration between Mian Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari are the two most notable documents that were supposed to be translated into concrete implementation after the PPP’s advent into power. The PMLN that was initially part of the coalition government headed by PPP had to take leave because of the delay and dithering of the principal signatory in honoring those agreements.
So much so that a categorical public pledge of Asif Zardari that his foremost act, after becoming the president, would be to rescind the 17th amendment and restore the true parliamentary democracy by expunging the notorious clause 58-2 B from the constitution is yet to make any headway. That public pledge was later ridiculed by president Zardari himself as merely a paper undertaking and not a divine or religious edict to be taken seriously. Such is the slippery character of our political stalwarts.
And more grievous and mind boggling is the probe into the murder of Benazir Bhutto which has been relegated to a snail-paced process that is as retarding and fuzzy as it is reflective of the ill intentions of PPP leaders to propel it. The PPP leaders talk of the democracy as the revenge for Benazir’s murder. But don’t they realize that by fomenting a game of castigating and cornering their political contenders they are actually undermining the splendid cause of democracy? Is it fair and honorable on their part to scuttle the investigation of the assassination of their chairperson who paved way for these power-drunk minions of today to ride the power band wagons with pomp and show?
PPP is fast eroding its credibility as a redeemer or people’s friendly party that it was known to be in the past. While the foreign junkets of the president, not to mention of ministers and bureaucrats, cost millions of dollars, the distressed people of Pakistan are not being given relief to make their both ends meet. In blistering sun and rough weather they sweat and fatigue the whole day to get a sack of Atta. The government, instead, is busy in dirty intriguing as if the people were a stack of hay to be burnt and the ashes blown away. What a display of heartless apathy towards the woes of the poor and helpless masses! What a shameful and studied disregard of the people’s trust reposed in these junkies.
So let us wait for the army as to how it looks at this most agonizing situation and a heart gripping spectacle of despondency, degeneracy and downright murder of public trust. To add insult to injury, the ministers are unabashedly taking sides of the hoarders, the profiteers and enemies of public from top to bottom.
The PPP that was committed to allow the rule of law to take its course is creating unwanted and illegitimate road-blocks in the way of a fair judicial process against former president and his ilk. The fear is that if Musharraf can be prosecuted, Zardari cannot be spared.The PPP government, initially, tried to block the reinstatement of the judges. Now they are trying to hinder and oppose the trial of Musharraf by offering untenable, evasive and funny arguments that instead of improving their image, is besmirching their faces. Now with the addition of several corrupt politicians in the list, the courts should take suo-motto action against all these felons including Zardari, Musharraf and rest till they clear themselves. If the courts are not allowed to freely operate, the civil society, the lawyers and the people must again raise hell a la French Revolution. Let the people take their revenge from those who built their majestic castles upon the miseries of a whole nation.
Let us also watch how long America can contend and go along with a government fast sliding down in the public esteem. Its popularity is plummeting because it is impervious to people’s suffering and the countless problems they are faced with. It is a government that is being propped and run on broken promises and betrayal of people’s trust. It is watching with folded hands the public woes, the breakdown of civic amenities, the spiraling crimes and the stark poverty. In a year of its being in power, nepotism, corruption, illicit money making, witch-hunting of the opposition parties, dependence on foreign costly loans, the disconnect between the leaders and the people, adhocism, deception and political shortsightedness and so on, have engulfed the country. The vital decisions such as the latest decision about Gilgit and Baltistan are being made without parliament or consulting the other political forces or even the concerned parties. The country’s viability is once again at the stake.
The country is reeling under an exceptionally self serving, directionless and corrupt riff raff coterie of individuals who neither posses vision nor the sincerity to rebuild the country and make it a viable state. The government is a replica of that of Pervez Musharraf but perhaps worse that that. At least Musharraf had the moral courage to admit his mistakes although he was under no obligation like a political government to be answerable to the people.
The Pakistan Muslim League (N)’ ultimatum to the government to set its house in order and stop slander against the PMLN bigwigs is ominous and might lead to a national upsurge for a change. It is also a self destructive call for the Muslim League as well. May be it becomes the first drop of a thunderstorm that cleans the earth from the scum accumulated over the years. May be the people come out like a raging deluge and knock down the exploitative system nurtured and fomented by a combine of anti people forces such as feudalism, civil and military bureaucracy, the mercantile robber barons, the corrupt politicians and the thugs in all forms. May be it is just a wishful thinking.

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