Never before in modern political history, has a leader abused and insulted his mandate and along with it, the nation, as was demonstrated by the outgoing Chief Minister of Punjab on his last day in office, before an interim successor took over. In a public statement the younger of the two Sharifs, ended his speech by the shocking utterance that as far as he was concerned his Party had successfully dealt with power short fall and that if there was any load shedding the next day, then the people should find a way to deal with it (or words to that effect). By shamelessly making this statement, the ‘Khadim e Aala’ absolved himself of all responsibility and false promises that he had made publicly. What he actually accomplished was to lend strength to the prevailing belief that the House of Sharif was built on lies, corruption and arrogance. Above all it sent a clear message to the people that they should ‘go to hell’. Tragically for the Land of the Pure, the deaf and the blind will on the day of the ballot put their stamp of approval on the PML N candidate and raise their voices in praise for the disqualified and disgraced Prime Minister and his brother. I went through an agonising length of time engaging Nawaz Sharif’s supporters, out of whom nine out of ten readily acknowledged that he was a ‘thief’, but since he was not a ‘dakoo’, they would vote for him. I am still trying to agonisingly come to terms with this twisted logic.
The notion that a majority of our legislators are corrupt with cupboards full of skeletons needs no debate and the old nomination form with its comprehensive declarations was a tool through which the election commission could filter the bad from the good. No voice was raised from any political quarter against this document, until accountability was set in motion by the Apex Judiciary and a sitting PM was disqualified for life. With the sword of retribution looming large over their heads, politicians made haste to pass the Electoral Reforms Bill removing all incriminating declarations from the form, enabling Parliament benches to be occupied by criminals and the corrupt – a giant step indeed to give ‘izzat’ to the vote. It was ironic that Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf, whose entire struggle had focused on eradicating corruption, appeared to have been a party in the crime, willingly or because of lack of wisdom. I must give full credit to Justice Aisha Malik of the Lahore High Court for her decision against use of the new forms, which pave the way for corrupt politicians of every ilk to sit in Parliament without any fear of retribution. I will however not be hasty in commenting on the interim setting aside of Ms. Malik’s verdict and admittance of petitions for hearing, filed by Mr. Ayaz Sadiq and the Election Commission against the ruling. In my opinion the case remains wide open until the hearing by the larger bench headed by the Chief Justice is completed and verdict delivered. All I can say at this time is that Justice Aisha Malik is a woman of courage and strong sense of morality.
I have deliberately avoided mentioning the issue of the ‘book’ by Imran Khan’s ex-wife, as the contents appear to be sordid, disgusting and (according to many) part of a larger political strategy by the leadership of the party, which has recently vacated the corridors of power. What I shall definitely say is that politics in Pakistan has taken a turn for the worst, setting aside ethics and decency. It is now up to the Election Commission and the Supreme Court to take cognizance of the situation and nip the evil, while it is ‘nippable’, failing which, history shall never forgive those that had the power to do something about it.
For the people, there is nothing left after a decade of democratic misrule by two political parties, but hope. This ray of sunshine stems from the past few months of judicial activism and an Army that has stolidly endured vile and malicious propaganda from PML N, wisely failing to be provoked. If the above activism and restraint continues unabated, we are likely to see (at the very least) the beginnings of a change and with it, a chance for future generations to survive in a better Pakistan.
The writer is a freelance columnist.