Agent Provocateur It was like watching angry, caged lions let loose all of a sudden. Across all party divides, the members of the Punjab Assembly came together, as one, to give vent to their frustrations and annoyances. It was a frontal attack on the media and had them frothing at the mouth, member after member after member. Perhaps, democracies allow for freedom of so much expression, but it was also interesting to see how the politicians clubbed together when their collective interest is at stake. The issue at hand is the ongoing discovery of fake degrees. As fake as silicon breasts, the degrees were generated in response to the requirement by the Musharraf government for all members of Parliament to possess one for eligibility for the elections he held in his time. Used, as we are, to the influential overcoming hurdles wherever they stand in their way, it probably did not appear such a big deal to them at that time to get that required piece of paper which stood between them and their place in the assemblies Those entrusted with the jobs of verifying candidate documents probably did not even try to do so. But life has a way of coming full circle. And the same piece of paper has come to bite them in the backsides, even though it is no longer a requirement to contest elections. The issue is striking at the very heart of our core values and our conduct unbecoming. We have a track record of the same people and same families sitting in our assemblies, under every regime and under the guise of serving the people of this blighted country, but in actuality, serving only themselves and the power centre of the day. This is the first time that cheating, on such a collective level, has been discovered and the politicians are embarrassed. It is the norm for those contesting in established democracies to have every aspect of their personal lives subjected to scrutiny. It is part of the occupational hazards for the life they have chosen for themselves. But in Pakistan, the politicians want to eat their cake and have it too. The irony is that the degree, fake or otherwise, is just a degree and I am quoting the Chief Minister of Balochistan Raisani ad verbatim. One could do a whole article on that statement to see what he actually meant but, may be, on another day The fact remains that real or fake degrees have not done much for the spellings of our representatives. While we have our share of brilliance with the likes of Ali Moeen Nawazish at Cambridge, we also have people like Sanaullah Masti-Khel. With a cherubic face, the starc-hed white kurta shalwar, which is standard dress code of all self-respecting Punjabi men, well-fed, well-healed and so on, he joined the angry brigade and took the venting to another level by exclaiming: It is the letter J Mr. Speaker that has caused so much anguish to us, it is the generals, the judges and the journalists He has spent the better part of his time since he made that statement answering different hosts on TV what he meant and trying to downplay his speech and his spelling error. Incidentally, he was formerly with PML-Q (the party that was Musharrafs handm-aiden), and now, you guessed it, with the party in power in the Punjab. There has to be a connection to bad spellings and fake degrees. If the degrees were all real, think of the improvement in quality of debates, in the handling of crises, in general behaviour and thought patterns of our representatives. Thus, it is established that as more and more elections are held those contesting and those voting will both be forced to think before they lie/vote. This is not to say that everyone who calls himself a journalist is beyond reproach either. As time moves forward, the black sheep within the media, too, will be pushed aside and exposed. It is my studied opinion that nobody, in the current scenario as feared by the politicians, is trying to bring down or uproot the system - no general, no judge, no journalist. It is, surprisingly, quite to the contrary. The great majority of the Gs and the Js are going about doing exactly what they ought to be doing. No more, no less. So look inwards class and understand that easy times are over. The room for liars, cheats, lotas and the corrupt is getting smaller. As Arshad Bhatti, a friend and a civil rights activist, says in his lovely poem which Arieb Azhar has sung to perfection: Meray des mai hain imkaan bauha,t Hain aas, umeed, armaan bauhat, Nai daur ko ab tum shuru karo, Hain dekho, sub taiyar bauhat. Postscript: Apparently the Punjab government has been asked to add eight new clauses to the Nikahnama. This has happened overnight and without warning. The clauses require, among other things, signature of parents as witnesses. I just do not understand how a contract between two adults has to be signed off by the parents too. Religion does not require it. What if the parents are not approving like in the love story of Heer Ranjha and so many like them? The only clause which is making sense is that the couple needs to have medical tests done before the nikah, to ensure that any children they may have are prevented from possible disabilities. Otherwise, it is a crude attempt to keep women from getting their due status in society and may lead to more forced marriages. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: