I have lately begun asking myself the question, if the ‘Land of the Pure’ is going anywhere except down. I am scared to look for an answer for our present (thanks to the politicians and their democracy) is, if anything else, nowhere near the one that was envisioned by our Founding Father.

I consider myself fortunate that I get ample opportunity to interact with a very broad spectrum of citizens, who hail from the middle to the lower middle classes – tiers that form the filling in any successfully prepared ‘national sandwich’. An increasing number from this group remember the two autocratic regimes of Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan and General Pervez Musharraf as times, when there was greater relief for people than any democratic dispensation had ever provided. Reluctantly enough, I am inclined to go with this popular notion as I have witnessed this ‘relief’ during my lifetime.

To me and others like me, who keep an eye on how governments function and falter, the two so called ‘dictators’ closely fit the globally accepted comparative definition of the two main political systems – democracy and autocracy, according to which, an autocratic rule wins hands down, when played against a democratic one - provided one can find a benign autocrat.

In Ayub Khan we found a ruler, whose ‘Decade of Progress’ was mimicked by a country that is now one of the leading economies of the world. Years later, circumstances brought Musharraf into power and we saw the unshackling of media in an unprecedented manner. The downfall of both these individuals came about, when they surrounded themselves with political opportunists, who isolated them from reality. In the final analysis, it is the politician who emerged as the villain in the drama that we (the people) have been watching for over six decades.

This drama however, appears to be reaching a point of no return for the nation. The dynamics for what is happening were not generated in our domestic political cauldron nor because of any ‘dharna’, but were set in motion by the release of information from across the Atlantic. It is now more than ever before that our politicians are being exposed, for what they really are, in the eyes of the public.

I had, in one of my earlier columns mentioned that in all likelihood the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had been suckered by the combined opposition. Opportunities missed (deliberately or foolishly) by the Leader from Pakistan People’s Party that could have maintained pressure on the PM on the floor of the Parliament, strengthen the belief that a ‘below the table’ understanding may have been reached between the opposition leadership and the ruling party. If this is so, then all those political entities, which are genuinely interested in putting an end to corruption and flight of capital must reconsider their position immediately or go down in history as collaborators in ‘crime’.

I have no issues in coming to terms with any one holding public office and setting up businesses abroad provided these off shore concerns are not part of a tax evasion initiative, a money laundering operation or flight of capital. I cannot however come to terms with someone elected to the top slot in the country, willfully undermining the very essence of democracy. I would tolerate an honest dictator than a democratic leader, who loses credibility by concealing the truth.

The political guru, who introduced me to the idea of a ‘benign autocrat’ and whose writings mentored me during my academic pursuits, stated that ethics and politics did not (except in a few rare cases) survive together. Wherever and whenever they did, it was through dint of autocratic enforcement and immutable black and white perspective on issues of governance. Where will we find such a person is a question, the answer to which is held only by the future.