Three employees of PIA protesting its privatization were sacrificed at the satanic altar of neo-liberal fascism that parades around in our country as democracy. If the track record of the Nawaz government is anything to go by, we will not find out who pulled the trigger and on whose direction, and those responsible for this barbarity will not be held accountable. We will be expected to take it in our stride because the murderous money-making show must go on, all for our sapling of democracy to mature one fine day.

Waiting for that promised day, however, is a luxury that only a privileged minority can afford. You can’t blame the majority of Pakistanis who are being pushed over the edge, for losing their patience. They must pay for this loot and plunder with their livelihood and lives. When they ask for a better deal from their oh-so-democratic government, teachers, clerks, doctors, paramedics, sanitary workers, even the blind, are brutalized. It is only the TTP terrorists and Islam-selling sectarian maulanas who are considered worthy of negotiations by this government.

This is a government that allows religious rabble-rousers to congregate and make a hero out of a convicted murderer, a man who murdered the Governor he was duty-bound to protect for criticizing the Blasphemy law. This is a government whose Interior Minister has made a habit of spinning yarns on the floor of the house and in press conferences to cover up the crimes of devious maulanas and their shady madrassahs, including abetment of terrorists by Abdul Aziz of the notorious Red Mosque, but orders the Rangers to stop the PIA employees from protesting. Selling off national assets as ordered by the IMF is surely far more important to the government than countering terrorism and its support base.

Interestingly, before becoming the Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif thought privatizing the PIA was a bad idea. In an interview just before the controversial elections that brought him to power, he even held forth on how he would reform and revive the national flag-carrier without selling it off. Now he believes in its privatization as an article of faith; riding roughshod over the ‘supreme’ parliament to make PIA a corporate entity, enforcing the Essential Services Act to ban union activities and threatening those protesting his decision with dire consequences.

The eagerness with which our democratic government begs for IMF loans and follows the poisonous neo-liberal recipes that come with it is not an anomaly. After all, it’s not only a lack of vision that motivates corrupt governments reigning over struggling economies all over the world to outsource their economic policy to dark wizards in the IMF and welcome their debt trap. The IMF agenda offers immense pilfering and profiteering possibilities for those in government and their tycoon cronies. As for the hard-working professionals and the even more hard-working poor losing their bread, they can always eat cake.

So while tax exemptions and amnesty schemes are announced for the fat-cats, the poor must pay more and more in indirect taxes on everything they buy just as everyone else. While the wealthy have the option of concealing their assets, tax is deducted from the income of working people before they are paid. If the amount deducted from their income is more than they are liable to pay, they can always run after tax officials for a refund. And so on and so forth. All over the world, IMF recipes have enriched the rich and impoverished the poor, and that’s why rich rulers of poor countries love it.

You don’t have to strain your eyes to see how the IMF is a powerful tool of corporate imperialism, opening economies of indebted countries to the plunder of multinational giants and collaborators among the local elites. National resources and assets that could be used for public welfare are appropriated by the super-rich at a fraction of their actual value to maximize private profits. Somehow, the boons that are supposed to follow never do.

Spin-doctors of economic jargon dish out a lot of theory about how it is meant to benefit the people eventually. In practice, it brings ruin to everyone except the super-rich profiteers with grave repercussions for the society. The dark economic wizards then turn around to blame the victims for the failure of their theoretical models that were never designed to work as promised, that are just fancy jargon-laden excuses for the loot and plunder by the corporate machine.

Can governments following the IMF diktat be called democratic? Isn’t it the job of a representative government to make policies rather than outsourcing them to a foreign organization with a criminal record, an organization that has brought ruin to so many countries around the world? Shouldn’t it be the job of any half-decent democratic government to break the anti-people stranglehold of the IMF before it does anything else? Can a democratic government do anything meaningful for the people without breaking it?

Unfortunately, not only the ruling party but the entire spectrum of our parliamentary leadership has failed to come up with a vision of economy independent of the IMF. The recent murder of PIA employees protesting its privatization has given them another opportunity to score points against each other. They raise questions about the transparency of the privatization and the ham-handed approach of the government towards the protesters. Some have ventured far enough to question the privatization of PIA but no one has dared question the neo-liberal paradigm of which PIA is the latest victim.

In the comfortable bubble of their parliamentary privilege, they can wait for the sapling of democracy to mature into a tree that would give some shade to the majority of people outside their august air-conditioned houses of parliament and the networks of patronage operating from its stinking corridors. As for those bearing the scorching sun, the patient and hard-working people of Pakistan being asked to water the stunted plant with not only their sweat but also their blood, you can’t blame them if they see it as a parasite that would ask for more blood as it matures.