I hung my head in abject shame as a member of the media quartet addressed the press outside the Supreme Court targeting the PTI Chairman in language that crossed all limits of decency. This display of being ‘more loyal to the king than the king himself’ reflected in no uncertain terms the character and culture that has stereotyped PML-N. If the venomous outburst had been directed only at Imran Khan’s politics, I would have rated it fair, but the young PML-N mouthpiece directed his remarks at Khan Sahib’s personal indiscretions and unable to ‘check his tongue’, went on to attack his parents. The gentleman justified this on grounds that the PTI leadership had pointed fingers at the PM’s late father Mian Muhammad Sharif (who was without doubt, a God fearing individual with unimpeachable integrity). The speaker conveniently ignored the fact that ‘Barray’ Mian Sahib’s name had come up in connection with the ‘money trail’ and not one finger had been raised or anything said about him in a derogatory manner. This war of words on the premises of the highest court in the country has now begun to irk decent citizens. Perhaps it is time that a suo-moto cognisance of the ongoing activity is taken by our Chief Justice and all antagonists (including PTI) are barred from their daily ‘show’ or face contempt.

I have just seen the breaking news that a C-130 departed for Qatar, bearing a pedigree horse for the Emir, along with a delegation of thirteen individuals. Presentation of this gift has come at a time when a controversial letter written by a member of this ruling family has been produced in the Supreme Court by the PM’s legal team, in a bid to legitimise the ‘London apartments’. Not only is the wisdom of sending a ‘noble steed’ at this point in time and the perception it is likely to create debatable, but this special flight raises the question of cost incurred in sending an Air Force aircraft bearing a personal gift using taxpayers’ money. What prompted the act and why were state assets used to convey personal goodwill has raised media furore, aggravating PML-N worries.

Let us however return to the ongoing practice of an army of ministers appearing on television and passionately defending their leader. The sight raises the question as to how and when we, as a nation, will extricate ourselves from the viscous loop of sycophancy and warped sense of loyalty. It appears that sycophancy is a trait that evolved during monarchical times where, in order to survive, it was necessary to please the king or queen. The industrial revolution was an event that impacted life in more ways than one, but these effects were confined to Europe, where it all began. Industrialisation and processes meant education and urbanisation. This in turn, generated the need for a whole new socio-political order, where monarchies assumed a diminishing role. As monarchies were overtaken by democracies and modern social thought replaced court mannerisms, sycophancy became irrelevant.

As far as the subcontinent was concerned, the effects of the industrial age were too distant to be felt. As the Mughal Empire went into its death throes, its rule had already been replaced by the monarchy of the East India Company (referred by ‘natives’ as Company Bahadur) and after the great upheaval of 1857, by the British Crown. Even when industrialisation appeared in our region, it was selective in accordance with the wishes of the ruling colonial power.

We had great aspirations to become a modern democratic state under the leadership of our founding father, but our journey was cut short by his early demise in 1948, just one year after we gained our independence. Our political and social history thereafter is a sad tale of feudal manipulation and monarchies with democratic facades broken by intervals of military rule. In real terms we did not get out of the viscous loop, because we lacked the impetus to break through it.

All is however not lost. If we are to survive as a sovereign nation, we must change ourselves from fawning courtiers to bold, politically savvy citizens. We must divest ourselves of absurd notions of loyalty and imbibe ourselves with the idea of good and honest government. We must cast our ballot away from ethnic, tribal or family loyalties, but on the basis of who can resolve national issues in the best possible manner. Only then will we be seen as a dignified and worthy member of the global community.