It’s a cliché now to use the word politicians in tandem with corruption. Take for instance a street child of primary level or a fruit vender who lives below the poverty line, a lecturer in higher studies institution or a clerk in government office; all scapegoat their miseries by abusing or defaming only one segment of the political elite ie politicians. There can be different opinions on the issue whether they are right to blame these segregated segments of the elite, or they fell prey to a planned agenda or designed maliciously to shift the focus from the rest of the group-mates.

Switch on your laptop, browse google and type ‘what is corruption?’ We may find a dozen or more definitions given by several international agencies. For instance, ‘Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It can be classified as grand, petty and political, depending on the amounts of money lost and the sector where it occurs’ is a very popular definition by Transparency International. A simple look at the definition reveals it is more suitable for western or developed countries where national coherence is at its apex and statesmen are rightly assumed to either do their job or to be charged as corrupt. However, in the developing world, corruption isn’t necessarily the practice by statesman at macro level. Rather, there are many more centres of power that may practice corruption. What if this definition to be revised to add other figures of the developing world, where central decision making is not the sole responsibility or prerogative of political leadership?

Interestingly, this entire saga of corruption revolves around individuals and would not focus on institutional corruption, which are strongholds of power, under cover of state institutions which are least likely to be defamed or pointed out by such designed propaganda campaigns. One will be right, if one may start thinking negatively by these lines as a support to political parties and political personalities. Yet, the issue isn’t that simple. We have evidence that is based on perceptions as we are trained to think like that. Nevertheless, these perceptions are imbalanced enough to notice intrusion by the judiciary, military, media and several small bodies forming a virtual alliance against Parliament and Parliamentary bodies.

Coup d’états, which were assumed to be the sole characteristic of ambitious military personals who exploited situational evidence in favour of them, are now being led by judicial bodies. Recall, when was the last time judicial intervention was made? No, PM Gillani was not the only victim, Ms Bhutto and Mr Sharif were also in the queue. Don’t miss the collective issue; dictatorship plus judicial intervention culminated in successful efforts to hang Mr Bhutto, the-then prime minister. Surprisingly, multiplier effect favours the one who generated this campaign from the very beginning. In a panorama where one overdeveloped organisation or institute of state paves the way to barracks or home for the elected government, other may seek pleasure to follow suit and appease their appetite for power and projection of authority. This is what happening in Pakistan.

Consequently, Pakistan has produced several sacred cows at the cost of one evil; that is parliament and politicians. News hours and talk shows, editorials and op-eds, classrooms in universities or tuck-shop gossips are on the same page; abuse, defame and curse politics and politicians. This well-articulated, coordinated and settled narrative underpins the thinking patterns of the youth and collective masses towards a single narrative and binds their rational thinking under this narrowly defined perception or misperception about corruption. Corruption and transparency are broader concepts to be understood in the macro. True, politicians have been found lacking in personal traits and professional attitudes and there must be a check on them owing to their notorious past and scandalous present. However, other crook segments of the elite must not seek refuge under this defamation campaign. If politicians are corrupt, charge them, try them and persecute if found guilty, but other sacred cows may not be escaped; like the one being seen in dancing parties abroad.

General sentiment and euphoria on this particular case is insane. Agree, trickledown effect will have positive implications for society, yet this is not the only issue to be championed. We need to work simultaneously in both in top-down and bottom-up dimensions to nip several vicious evils in the society. We need thorough activism; not the one the Supreme judiciary opted in retaliation that worked like steroids, but a normal, dynamic and continued process is essential requirement of the time. Sudden wake up calls and then a deep slumber till next national catastrophe would never transform Pakistan into a normal state.

One may observe, most of the so-called benchmark steps taken in contemporary Pakistani politics are responses not the initiatives, whereas responses are never balanced nor justified. Why do we need the APS carnage, Panama papers, the Memogate scandal, the Abbottabad attack, the Operation Geronimo or the Neptune Spear, to rise? Instead, having normal, active and working institutions may avert such issues in the very budding form. Only then we may hope some omens of peaceful, prosperous and progressive Pakistan.