From Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s (ZAB) socialist approach of Roti, Kapra, Makan to Shaukat Aziz’s free market and deregulation Pakistan has come full circle. Short-cut Aziz talked about “Pakistan Incorporated”. He believed in privatisation, deregulation, globalisation and corporatisation as he was a product of this exploitative system. Before the corporatisation of politics, strict moral standards were in vogue. People voluntarily regulated their conduct.

As a child growing up in Lahore I clearly remember the words of the ‘Allo Channa Chatwala’. He always claimed that his ‘Khata’ was made from tammarin not half ripe mangoes (Ambi) as it was injurious for human health which resulted in sore throat of the kids. The ‘Golaywala’ (Ice Lolly) used natural flavours for customer protection. Whenever I go to Nila Gumbad I stop by the shop of Ghulam Rasool ‘Cholaywala’ who excels in his field. On my last visit I asked him about his succession, with a heavy heart he replied none. He then revealed his daily routine, he starts cooking at ‘Fajar’ to be ready for service by 11 AM. All ingredients are pure which then combined with slow cooking deliver taste. None of his children were willing to put in this hard work. After him it will be all over, the era will come to an end.

Deregulation has gone too far and has seriously lowered our moral standards. The approach of Shaukat Aziz and unscrupulous ways of Sharifs prevail. The famous saying, “Everything is fair in love and war”, is followed, though it is mostly for personal gains. There has been an obvious moral degradation. In the recently held Panama trial it was alleged that one of the Judges was allocated a plot in Islamabad as per rules. There is no justification for this kind of state benevolence during an important trial. In the regime of Ayub Khan a residential plot was allotted to Justice A.R. Cornelius who lived all his professional life in Falettis Hotel. He returned the allotment letter with thanks saying, “I don’t need a plot.” Then there was another Chief Justice from Lahore who requested the government for a plot in Karachi as he had no place to live there. Soon after the allotment the plot was sold and profit deposited in the bank. This loot and plunder of national assets at all levels should be curbed. All allotments should be made public. In this game of favours the common man is the biggest loser.

The process of moral deregulation started with the first dictator Ayub Khan. His was the first mansion on the hill in Islamabad very close to the Marriott Hotel. After his death the property was sold to Hashwani. So in addition to the PC chain of Hotels, Hashwani Sahib also owns the Ex-Presidential Mansion. By contrast Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan had no palatial house. He had an honest, decent living and served the nation with the best of his abilities. After his assassination in 1951 there was no state funeral for him. He left no empire or hefty bank account for his heirs who fell on hard times.

In his recent public address in Islamabad Kaptaan mentioned that Ayub Khan as President of Pakistan was received by his US counterpart on arrival considering the importance of the country. The first dictator was received by the US President as he was their man, chosen to do their dirty work at the cost of the nation. Such references are inappropriate and should be avoided. Dictators and their political offshoots are responsible for this moral bankruptcy that we face today.

An interesting episode was narrated to me by Ex-President of National Development Finance Corporation (NDFC). One of the leaders of PML-Q had borrowed money from the corporation and was in default, a recovery suit was pending against him. In order to contest elections in 2002 he required an NOC. Shaukat Aziz called the bank President to accommodate the candidate. He was asked to pay at least 5% of the loan amount to re-schedule his debt. The candidates answer was shocking, “We did not avail the loan to pay it back.” Finally on his refusal to re-schedule, the President of the bank was removed.

It is a great tragedy that our heroes are projected as zeros and zeros as heroes. Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Zia-ul-Haq, Pervaiz Musharraf, Shaukat Aziz, Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Choudhry Shujaat Hussain, Pervaiz Elahi, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary, Asif Zardari etc., etc., are all zeros. One can imagine the level of the protégés of these zero level individuals.

Societies flourish under voluntary moral regulation, in the absence of which they collapse. When a nation falls into the hands of morally bankrupt leadership it has no future. In the words of Saghir Siddiqui, the nation has to pay for the sins of the sultan. Why have these Aziz’s and Sharif’s been imposed on us? How can we get rid of them?

Oath on the ‘Holy Quran’ against corruption is not a bad idea. Charity should begin at home. In order to lead the crusade against corruption PTI leadership has to be clean. The entire core committee and office bearers should swear on the holy book that they have never been involved in corruption nor will they ever be. Despite PML-N counter attacks, Kaptaan is financially clean but people who surround him are not.

Moral regulation calls for purity of thought and action. These 21st century concepts of deregulation have not worked neither has the free market approach. It is back to the drawing board to revisit and review the stark failures of these manmade concepts formulated by small minds. The last century experienced conflict, bloodshed and revolutions, and we may be heading in that direction again. Unfortunately lessons have not been learnt. For human society to function effectively, regulatory frameworks have to be in place, otherwise it is free for all. The powerful take control at the cost of the weak and the downtrodden segments of the society. Habib Jalib’s poetry is based on these inequalities and moral degradation. Zamir (conscience) was very important for him. For the rulers he wrote:

“Mere Wazir Saray Bezamir

Mein un ka be Iman Hun”