Sometime back, a friend of mine had written an article, “A Stable full of Asses, in which he had quoted an old Arab saying, 'Although an Arab horse may be weak, but it is still worth more than a stable full of asses'.

In the article, he had asked, ‘Ever wondered why this country's affairs are in a perpetual state of mess? Nothing in any department offers a hint of orderliness or discipline. Chaos reigns supreme as much in the management of public affairs, as in the minds of our leadership’.

He continued: ‘It all boils down to monumental incompetence, nepotism and cronyism. What would happen if you asked the driver of a pushcart to fly an aircraft or an ordinary staff nurse to perform a complicated brain surgery? Disaster!’

No prime minister has been allowed to finish his term in office, and we have been living on the verge of disaster for more than seven decades. Each government, civil or military, has been worse than the previous one. We have lurched from one crisis to another and have become a nation with a perpetual begging bowl, always asking for handouts to feed the poor of this country.

Yet, according to the Assets and Liabilities report released by the Election Commission of Pakistan, our National and Provincial Assemblies and the Senate are brimming with ‘extremely wealthy politicians’.  Most of them live a luxurious lifestyle and own expensive properties and ‘assets’ at home and abroad, all adding up to billions of rupees. Yet these honourable parliamentarians, who are supposed to set an example, do not declare these assets nor pay any taxes on this undeclared wealth. 

According to reports, the total revenue loss suffered by the country due to massive tax evasion is over a trillion rupees per year, while according to another estimate, surprisingly only two percent of Pakistanis pay income tax. In other words, tax evasion is a national disease in Pakistan, especially among the rich and the famous and many members of our Assemblies and Senate.

Furthermore, according to NADRA records, about 45 percent votes cast in the last elections were bogus. Therefore one should not be surprised at the behaviour of our ‘bogus’ leaders and politicians and their indifference and lack of commitment to good governance and the rule of law. They sit in the assemblies simply to draw fat salaries’ and enjoy all the Perks that go with the job and are least interested in enforcing the rule of law or improving the quality of life of the citizens.  No doubt, we witness similar behavior and some times, even worse, by legislators in India and other third world countries. They too indulge in fistfights and throwing of chairs, but at the end of the day, most have managed to establish a system of governance and a rule of law, which works for the benefit of the common man. For our legislators, being a parliamentarian means an opportunity that they have been given through our foolish votes to loot and plunder as much as they can. That is why they insist that they must be allowed to finish their full-term. It has nothing to do with democracy, but just more time to increase their bank balances and their wealth.

According to experts, the solution to stop this rot is simple. ‘Begin with cleaning out the stables. Put the right people in the right positions, purely on merits, and things will soon start looking up or to change the system of governance completely’. Unfortunately, nobody in government is willing to listen or act, as they are all too busy, accumulating wealth and stashing them away in difficult to trace offshore accounts.

For the moment, things are looking like returning to normal in this once burning and bleeding City of Lights, thanks to the two Movers and Shakers of Sindh, who have announced a truce in their turf of war, courtesy, The Don. Seemingly they have renewed their marriage vows of ‘Till death do us part’, but is difficult to predict how long this marriage of convenience will last.

And will the silent judiciary be able to douse the fires when they start burning again and rein in the well-fed horses and mules in our assemblies. Will they be able to force them to sit and collectively do the right thing and save the nation from a political meltdown. This is also uncertain.

 Sadly, we the citizens are also to blame for this sorry state of affairs. We vote for the same corrupt leaders and parliamentarians, their primary objective being to rob and loot the nation with their ‘Self above all’ behaviour.  

Do the citizens of this Land of the Pak and the Pure care enough to collectively demand their rights of good governance and access to basic health, education and clean water? Up till now, the track record of the citizens has also been as bad as the past and present governments and unless the citizens get their act together also, the nation will continue to be governed by a stable that is full of horses and mules. One can only hope and pray that better sense will prevail and the human tsunami that was building up in the country at one time will be prevented from sweeping across the nation and destroying everything in its path.

 (email: trust@helplinetrust.org.pk)