According to the headcount done in 2013, Pakistan’s population stood at 182.1 million. Ruling this sea of humanity, wherein illiteracy, lawlessness and poverty run rampant, is a coterie of politicians, who are not only corrupt themselves, but think nothing of corrupting institutions by exerting coercive influence upon them. I cannot, but suppress a smile when I see streamers decorating Islamabad’s roads with the message, ‘Say no to corruption’. This campaign has been launched by an institution responsible to eradicate corruption, but has ironically lost credibility to carry out its mandate.

Accountability is a factor that defines good governance from bad. The word however, appears to be missing from the dictionaries available to those who have alternately ruled us during the last decade. When someone holds public office, he is expected to display the highest standards of morality and ethics in statement and form. The office itself demands that each spoken word is the truth – especially, when it is uttered on the floor of the Parliament, a forum elected by the people. Arguments that unfolded in the Supreme Court during the Panama case hearings proved the contrary. The entire nation had pinned its hopes on the Apex Court to do what was right, but the people will now have to wait for a new bench to be constituted after the new Chief Justice takes over. Nonetheless, redundancy has been created to hold the PM accountable by the filing of a PPP privilege motion against the Leader of the House for not speaking the truth on the floor (a statement that the latter’s lawyer termed as political). A similar PTI motion should have been filed by the time this piece is published, increasing PML-N worries.

I was asked by a friend, who lives abroad as to the reason for a bevy of ministers to appear on television and defend the PM and his family. My quizzical looks prompted him on, “They are holding government office and getting paid for it from public funds. Why are they acting as if their salaries were being paid by the Sharifs?” I mumbled something about party loyalty and quickly changed the subject.

It is beyond comprehension as to why the media is making such a big hoo-haa on the shuffling and appointments of general officers by the new Chief of Army Staff. These moves are routine, as traditionally speaking, the outgoing chief leaves overdue changes to his successor. It would also be unwise to pass judgement on the new chief, who is in the process of settling down and coming to grips with the awesome task in hand. The Army is an institution with great inner strength and I am confident that political linkages related to families of some new appointments will be effectively neutralised by tradition and professional discipline.

The unbelievable appears to have happened as the CIA has pointed its finger at the Russians for helping Donald Trump upset the recently held elections to the White House. I can only muse on the consequences of this disclosure, especially when President Obama has asked that the report be sent to him for record and ‘sharing with the President-elect’. It would be interesting to see what ‘sharing’ implies and how this would impact the changeover with some Republicans raising their voices in favour of the report. I have heard some political pundits say that perhaps the Russians are on the verge of having ‘sweet revenge’ on their traditional adversary for the disintegration of the ‘USSR’. I was amused, when one of my witty political ‘experts’ commented that perhaps we shall now find resonance in our relationship with the new US administration.

Whatever be the case, we are definitely passing through interesting times both at home and abroad. In my reckoning, the year 2017 will witness momentous events and changes on a global scale. For Pakistan perhaps, the silver lining will be the evolution of the CPEC project and Gwadar Port, as a lasting source of economic prosperity.

 

             The writer is a freelance columnist.