Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Constructive Tsunami

December 16, 2009

A Constructive Tsunami

By Saeed Qureshi

The Pakistan Supreme Court’s December 16 verdict on NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) is a watershed Tsunami. Yet it is not destructive, as natural tsunamis are. It comes as a signpost of huge hope and relief. It leads the nation towards a destiny which must be glorious and which was the very essence of Pakistan’s creation. The NRO is not basically against President Asif Zardari and his ilk; it is against an opportunist dictator who was ready to go to any extent of disfiguring Pakistan’s constitution and trampling any legal or moral principle to stay in power. The cases against incumbent president and other several thousand individuals pardoned in the NRO were already there. It’s the former president who has to face the music and it would be a redeeming outcome of the historic decision if he is also summoned by the court. He is the principle culprit. It is perhaps the first ever bold and sincere development that would consolidate the foundations of civil society and rule of law in Pakistan.

Accepting the verdict, the presidential spokesman has pointed out towards the presidential privilege that makes the president immune from the Supreme Court’s decision. The question is: how long. What is the guarantee that another petition would not be filed for the resignation of the president for involvement in crimes despite his temporary reprieve? Who can say with certainty that the civil society and the people and the politicians won’t launch a movement for the ouster of a highly controversial and morally lax citizen of Pakistan notwithstanding his protected status? Above all would president himself feel comfortable to stay at the helm despite a total nose dive of his prestige?

Has the president of Pakistan a liking for the ostriches? If not then why is he behaving like an ostrich? There is a turbulent storm ferociously racing against him but he is either complacent or overly confident or exceedingly confused not to look unruffled. He is quiet and feigns to be unconcerned in his presidential citadel. He has shown no intention for the repeal of 17th amendment that can at least give him some semblance of the saving grace in case he is elbowed out by the oppression of events or by those forces that his platonic lawyer has identified before the supreme court of Pakistan. The president better read the writing on the poltical wall of Pakistan.

Paradoxically, president Zardari is simultaneously the strongest and the weakest president. He has inherited the powers of a military dictator which makes the system of government more presidential and much less parliamentary. He cannot impose emergency and he cannot sack the government. He has already lost the precious time in restoring the powers to the prime minister. The prime minister himself is made of wax and most of his ministers can be rated as public enemies. Some of them joined hands with smugglers and hoarders to make huge profits on sugar. Others voraciously gobble the money in various ways. They are doing this against their own people whom they are under oath to serve honestly and sincerely.

Notwithstanding the argument that the constitutional provides the president a shelter not to be sent to jail or removed till the time he hold the reins of the presidency. But what about the prodigious calumny that would be the talk of every household in Pakistan? He cannot shut every one’s mouth. People and the unrelenting media will not spare him by unkind remarks and callous innuendos. He will become a laughing stock, even though he belongs to that species of humans who don’t mind reproach or even the most intolerable vilification.

God save the king is an idiom that is well known in civilized societies. Our society is neither liberal nor ideally civilized. But in president Zardari’s case let god save him from being more dishonorable and the country from him. He must concede and read the history to find out the inexorable fact that that if a towering politician like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto can be sent to gallows obviously for no crime, where does a weak and shaky person like him stand. He must admit he neither has a political background nor did he come to power by dint of a political movement launched by his party in his favor. His late spouse and party chairperson came to Pakistan on the strength of a quid pro quo, at a time when Musharraf was locked in a tussle with judiciary. Benazir died and he jumped into the bandwagon. He outsmarted Musharraf and dodged his political peers with fake promises to be elected unanimously.

Politics is indeed a game of deception and outmaneuvering but even such ignominious tricks have their limits and style. The political deceptions must not be allowed to degenerate into swindling or fraud. Presidency could be the highest trophy for a person who never played any political game. He was always a player on the back foot and that too invisible. Regrettably he lost the prestige that was bestowed upon him by virtue of the dignity and exalted status of presidential office. Instead he projected himself as a small time businessman still caught up in his hang up of seamy monetary pursuits. One can write volumes about the incompetence, inefficiency and gubernatorial corruption nepotism, bad governance, callous disregard of the public woes of the PPP coalition government.

Now the president can salvage his fast eroding credibility and honor if he can take quick paced epic decisions that he is under obligation to take. He has opted so far to renege on those vital issues that can transform the sham democracy, into a veritable democratic dispensation. If he further dithers he is definitely marooned and perhaps would lose even the grace period that is available to him. The die is cast against the beneficiaries of NRO and he is one them.

This government by all indications will go. Fresh elections are called for .There should be no military take over again. All corrupt people must be brought to justice and prosecuted. Since, except judiciary the government and the parliament are keeping mum over country’s countless problems, it is also essential that those whose loans were written off also must be held accountable and forced to pay the loans back to the people of Pakistan. Judiciary is the beacon of hope for the suppressed nation, as well as to save the federation.

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