While the world recently observed Democracy Day to promote democratic ideals and principles, Pakistan’s political elite must have reiterated their commitment to loot and plunder. If civilized democracies follow the vision of a government “of the people, by the people, for the people,” Pakistani democracy is synonymous with rule of, by and for the elite and privileged.

Thanks to the vibrant media that covered Inqilabi and Azadi marches which resulted in much needed mass awareness and gave Pakistanis the courage to stand up and make their voice heard. The Azadi square speakers must be credited for exposing the coalition of corruption that dominates parliament under the garb of Constitution, law and democracy.

Pakistan has changed. Pakistanis can no longer be taken for granted for they will now question and challenge the sources of income and extravagant lifestyles of the ruling elite. Every rupee of the taxpayer will have to be accounted for.

The recent PIA flight incident wherein two political leaders were off loaded by angry passengers for delaying the flight’s departure reflects the changed mindset of common Pakistanis against VIP culture , though this was not the first time that so called VIPs considered themselves a superior class.

The nation has not forgotten the scenes of four dozen security and protocol vehicles in former President Zardari’s motorcade that would have put kings to shame. That the feudal mindset will resist change, was evident from scenes of Sindh Chief Minister leading a cavalcade of twenty eight luxury vehicles to inspect flood protection arrangements in interior Sindh.

The words ‘Very Important Person’ should be banned under law to be used anywhere in Pakistan and all state organs must enforce the same. Pakistanis must no longer tolerate the closure of roads and public places for hours simply because of a ‘ VIP movement.’ VIP counters at airports must be abolished and parliamentarians must stand in the same queue as other ordinary passengers to board commercial flights.

Thanks to public pressure forcing the government to halt the practice of allowing a plane load of officials, family members and political joyriders to accompany the President or Prime minister on foreign visits at state expense. No government can dare to continue with the ‘sacred’ malpractice of sending friends, relatives and journalists at state expense to the holy land for Umrah/ Haj.

But public pressure must be increased till the Presidency/ Prime minister/ governor/ chief minister houses implement a culture of austerity and adopt working/ living standards that are in line with the aspirations of the impoverished masses. These state symbols deserved to be declared ‘one dish’ zones until their occupants bring out the almost fifty percent of our population that currently lives below the poverty line.

But in this changed Pakistan, let us not lose sight of the critical issue related to the deadlock between Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) and the government over the Terms of Reference (TORs) of the Supreme Court Commission to investigate massive and coordinated rigging charges in the May 2013 elections.

The PTI’s insistence on strong and meaningful TORs to get to the bottom of election fraud is in conflict with the government’s interest to keep TORs vague to avoid the result oriented report of Commission. Since the government has already approached the Supreme Court for establishing the Commission, the Court must take over the formulation of TORs to ensure that these are fair and will reveal the whole truth about the scale of rigging in the May 2013 elections.

If this Supreme Court Commission is armed with adequate powers and a wide scope, its findings/ recommendations are likely to make a significant impact on the conduct/ transparency of future elections and the quality of leadership that will be elected to the parliament.

The nation is also mindful of the dismal history of judicial commissions appointed by the government to probe issues of national importance in the past. One cannot recall if any of the culprits were ever held accountable for their misdeeds in light of the Commission’s recommendations.

While Justice Hamoodur Rehman Commission report on the 1971 debacle mysteriously surfaced on the internet during Gen Musharraf’s rule, some unsubstantiated excerpts from the 2011 Abbottabad Commission report were revealed by Al Jazeera. These reports will probably remain buried under piles of official dust.

Imagine the waste of valuable judicial time and efforts of the three Honorable sitting Chief Justices of High Courts in the 2011 Memorandum Commission, the findings of which were partially released by the Supreme Court. Surprisingly, the prime accused (former Ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani), was allowed by the Supreme Court to leave for the US.

The nation also wants to know how many billions were recovered out of the 87 billion rupees of written off bank loans from the rich and mighty, as per the findings of Justice retd Jamshed Ali’s Judicial Commission (2012/13) pertaining to the recovery of defaulted bank loans.

Pakistanis are therefore justified in demanding the official release of Justice Najfi’s report on the Model Town tragedy after the same was revealed by a media group. The report holds the Punjab government responsible for the Model Town ‘blood bath.’

Will this report meet a fate similar to the Judicial Commission report on 2010’s devastating floods that was reportedly shelved? Perhaps the Supreme Court needs to set up a special cell to monitor the progress on implementation of past judicial commission reports.

But back to ongoing dharnas. With the ‘Go Nawaz Go’ campaign gaining momentum, the Azadi Square sit ins seem to have transformed into a nationwide movement against the status quo. As weather conditions become favorable, the tent city seems to be gaining in strength and becoming better organized with a sound local economy.

While the government’s strategy to wear out the two dharnas has not worked, the dharna within the parliament in the form of a joint session seems to be losing its steam as is evident from declining attendance and the lack of interest of worthy lawmakers.

This a defining moment for Pakistan’s future. The public pressure on the status quo must be maintained within the ambit of the law till the larger objectives of change for the sake of the country’s future are achieved in a democratic manner.

With the loss of moral standing due to two murder related FIRs to his account, with little state writ in the federal capital and increasing demands for his resignation , the Prime Minister would be well advised to reconsider his decision to represent Pakistan in the UN General Assembly session next week in New York.

 The writer is a retired brigadier and a political/defence analyst and columnist.

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@FarooqHKhan