Tuesday, February 12, 2013

If PPP is voted out of Power!

By Saeed Qureshi

Let us first of all give due credit to the chairman of Pakistan People’s Party( PPP), also the president of Pakistan Jinab Asif Ali Zardari for achieving an historic milestone despite heavy odds and visibly insurmountable obstacles.

The bandwagon of the democracy that took a fresh start with the 2008 general election was somehow saved from being derailed or ambushed. There were several occasions for the army to step in and reestablish military rule. One such elephantine occasion came upon the assassination of Osama Ben Laden on May2, 2011.

The army could have exploited the collusion of the government with the United States for providing vital information to the latter and sidetracking the army and indirectly creating a subterfuge to malign the army for its inability to intercept the helicopters carrying the killer navy seals.

The internal deteriorating law and order situation, the lingering Karachi mayhem, the sectarian strife, the depleting civic amenities, the soaring cost of living, the mounting stories about the unbridled corruption of the PPP  ministers and standoff with the judiciary were some of the grave right or wrong pretexts that could have enticed or impelled the army to take over power.

There was also a strong possibility for the PPP government to be divested of power, after the PMNL left the government at the center. Mr. Zardari very shrewdly erected another coalition with the smaller parties MQM, ANP and later with the PMLQ to sustain the democratic set up. Although in such an endeavor, PPP’s own interest was involved. 

Yet to save democracy from being short-circuited either on the call of the adversaries or clamor of the proponents of the army rule or under pressure from rampant violence was indeed accomplishment of a proverbial Herculean task that is simply admirable.

But beyond that marvelous achievement, the PPP government and its ministers have earned more flak and infamy for willful misuse of power and all kinds of massive malpractices such as gulping nation’s funds, manipulating kickbacks and extracting commissions.  President Zardari has earned the singular notoriety of being the most corrupt head of state, having scores of offshore accounts to launder or conceal the wealth earned through dubious and questionable means.

The PPP coalition government, in the overwhelming public view, is not an efficient and honest dispensation. It is a common perception that its stalwarts were obsessed only with fattening their kitties and bank accounts. The ill-gotten money pours in buckets from top notches greedy traders, the stock holders, the land grabbers, the importers and exporters, the industrialists and similar midnight dacoits.

Many a national organization, running in order and were profitable, were closed down or were deliberately made to suffer egregious losses to the tune of billions. Out of many, let us name Karachi Steel Mills, the national power grid, the railways, the national airline PIA.

All these glorious establishments fell prey to the unbridled greed, willful incompetence and studied negligence of the ministers and bureaucracy.Rather bureaucracy and special interests groups have been hand in glove with the cabinet ministers, the members of the national assembly as well as Senate for a gruesome historic rip off of the national exchequer.

Due to rampant and unrelenting lawlessness, the inexorable anarchy and religious militancy, Pakistan has immensely suffered both economically and socially during the last five years of the democratic rule than earlier periods both political and military rules. The PPP government has failed to restore peace and order. Even now mayhem of bloodletting spawned by the sectarian or criminal gangs is vigorously rife taking away lives of the helpless citizens.

There is a lurking suspicion in the minds of so many Pakistanis that some stalwarts of the PPP along with army conspirators were behind the broad day light murder of the PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto on 27 December 1977.  This apprehension also involves the ferocious Taliban but they have defiantly debunked the charge of being responsible for BB’s assassination. One thing is good about Taliban that they do not mince words and state stark truth.

Then rental power units’ mega scam might be another stumbling block for the people to vote for the PPP candidates in droves and with traditional fervor. The incumbent prime minister is seen as the main culprit in that billion dollars rental power scandal crafted with great dexterity.

Mercifully, due to the robust intervention by the superior judiciary, that all time high fraud had came into the public limelight. Pitiably, the man who was responsible for such a mammoth financial fiasco was elevated to the highest office of the premiership.

Bu the most overriding complaint that the people of Pakistan nurse against the PPP under the incumbent leadership is that it failed to address the most urgent and pressing problems of the downtrodden people of Pakistan. As we all know these relate to power outrages and black-outs, the escalating poverty, the mounting cost of living, the adulteration in every everything for human consumption, be it sugar, flour, the food products, the medicines, spices, gas and oil.

Rape, homicide, mugging, snatching cars and mobiles, torching opponent’s shops and factories and extorting money are now common crimes that the PPP government has been taking lightly. One vital step of confiscating illegal weapons has not caught the attention of the government. Obviously, if there is no check on guns, the killers would use them to kill the peaceful citizens.

With this backdrop of dismal performance and poor track record of serving the people of Pakistan, how would the PPP return to the power with the popular mandate? For these five years Pakistan has been in a state of inertia because of the morbid status protected and maintained by the rulers. Or else it was seized by a virulent commotion because of the burgeoning violence and a civil war.

Sindh province considered to be unassailable forte of PPP seems to be cracking and there are strong indications that the votes would be divided between PPP and other political outfits. In other provinces the turnout would not be very promising for the PPP because of the entrenched disenchantment with the miserable performance of the present government and the widespread impression of its being corrupt and devious.

With supposedly PMNL taking the lead and forming the government, the political chess would be juxtaposed. All those cases adjudicated by the courts and verdicts handed over but stalled by the PPP regime could be reopened and enforced. Many of the linchpins of the PPP would have to face the consequences which could be grave.

All the hushed up money scams and sleazy scandals would resurface and the PPP cohorts and others involved would face the jarring music. Zardari’s offshore accounts cases, the Memogate case and rental power bombshell, Benazir’s mysterious murder, several similar outstanding cases could also be revived.

The perpetrators of all those crimes and gross dereliction of duty would try to flee away to safe havens abroad where they were, before the proclamation of the NRO. They might be declared absconders and could be brought back in Pakistan to face the ominous consequences.

But there would be one disheartening development. The legendary chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry would have retired by time and perhaps no one could replace him for the courage and conviction that he possesses to safeguard the dignity of the judiciary.