Agent Provocateur One would consider the situation comical, fictional and hysterical, whateverif only it was not so deadly serious Reminds me of mafia gangs of yore, who operated under their own laws of behaviour. The chairman of HEC, responsible for verifying the degrees submitted by the parliamentarians and which seem to be falling by the wayside by the dozens, is very much being given a clear message/threat. His younger brother, a Grade 19 officer, has been charged with corrupt wrongdoings during his tenure as DCO of Tando Allah Yar and Tando Muhammad Khan. That the cases against him have been set in motion two whole years after he held the alleged misused positions does not seem to appear strange to those who are responsible for taking him to task. It also does not seem strange to those behind the act that as soon as he gets bail in one case, another one is made ready to keep him behind bars. It may also be a mere co-incidence that his older brother Dr Javed Leghari happens to be Chairman HEC and resisting all pressures on the verification issue. But then, Pakistan can also be pronounced as being the most electricity producing and the most economically viable country in the world All these brazen methods of governance and shortcuts to making people fall in line have been used in previous years too. One would have liked to assume that they were a thing of the past But alas And to our horror, they are not. The degree issue has taken on such a momentum that the politicians are foreseeing a total unravelling of their credentials. I am sure all possible avenues to get at Dr Leghari are being studied. If all this research had been applied to academics, the planners could have easily aimed for a PhD from Monticello For far too long there has been, as they say, a haula hat on our rulers and too much acceptability of human erring. A friend and columnist, who is also a politician, says that all of us cheat on something or the other in our daily lives and thus should not be raising the kind of ruckus on the fake degree issue that we are. One can sympathise with him as he struggles to keep both his hats on effectively but, those caught cheating, just as those caught with their pants down, should pay a price a la Bill Clinton, if they have chosen a profession in public life. There are so many other issues which we have chosen to take sitting down heretofore and which also need to be exposed. How much tax do our parliamentarians pay? How much property do they own? Why dont they have elections within their parties? Also, according to civil rights activist Naeem Sadiq, there are several in the assemblies who have dual passports. Naeem says that the constitution does not allow anyone with dual nationality to be eligible for elections here. So how did that go unnoticed by the Election Commission? The whole system is geared to protecting/shielding those who have, up to now, wielded power. While democracy is definitely not the target this time, corrupt practices are and it is shape-up time. Because not shaping will only lead to shipping-out. That is the final verdict. Those understanding and making amends will only do themselves a favour. The days of scratching each others back, even if not over, are definitely finding more exposure. Just as the scheme and ongoing drama of we will stop twisting your brothers arm only when you go soft on verifying our college degrees Mr Chairman, finds more and more space on both the print and electronic media. The unwashed millions of this nation have a ring-side seat as they watch those whom they voted for squirm in discomfort facing charges which they cannot deny or do much about. It is a first for this sort of a mass exposure in Pakistan and the media and the moving finger cannot go back to how it once was. In sympathy with the politicians, I recommend drowning their sorrows with lassi or whatever else they want to and listening to the lovely melody of those were the days my friend, we thought theyd never end Postscript: The meeting between the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan did not amount to much barring a promise of more talks. The joint press briefing by the ministers also showed how different we are as people and in our approaches. The Indian minister came across as older, experienced, better-prepared, more in control while ours came across as younger, better looking, better dressed, headstrong but under-prepared. While ours was a treat to watch for the Pakistanis, the Indian was a treat to listen to for the Indians because all his words were so carefully chosen. Analysts explained that the meeting was a result of American pressure to ease relations between the two neighbours the-refore did not mean anything much. More than American pressure it is the inhabitants of both countries who wish for a genuine thaw and breakthrough. We have tried fighting it out and we know it only prevented both our countries their rightful places amongst the poverty-free countries of this world. We want to try peace now. One that eventually leads to a good neighbourly co-existence as envisaged by Moha-mmad Ali Jinnah. And, more than anything else, we would like it to happen in this new decade, so gentlemen, keep talking. With or without American pressure. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: tallatazim@yahoo.com