In his weekly Sunday article in Dawn in January 2001, late Ardeshir Cowasjee had written on ‘Shame’, in which he had asked, ‘How do we shame the shameless?’ Asked to comment on the state of corruption in our system of governance, fearless Cowasjee had shocked the host and the nation with his blunt and curt reply: ‘Salaa, ye sab chor hain’.

In the good old days, when ethics, integrity, honesty and a code of conduct were the guidelines for our leaders and parliamentarians, a line in AC’s weekly column or a whisper in an honest minister’s  ear, relating to corruption and misdeeds of a government official, would roar through the corridors of power and send shivers up the spine of the concerned person.   But today, it is a different story and not a day goes by when a TV anchor does not openly refer to our leaders and parliamentarians as thieves, who have lied to this nation and robbed it blind.

A blog, An Epic Tale Of Loot and Plunder: PPP’s Last 24 Hours in Power  has listed how the government went on a looting rampage as;

70 CNG licences were issued, even though ECC, under which the CNG sector had been placed, had ordered a ban on new CNG licenses.  Fehmida Mirza, Speaker, NA approved 100% increase in benefits and allowances of all members . Luxury cars were also bought on her orders. She also approved lifetime benefits and perks for herself.  Sindh Assembly, dominated by the PPP, approved increments in legislators’ salaries. The income of the speaker, deputy speakers, ministers and special assistants were also increased by 40 per cent. What is more shameful is that the changes are effective July 2011. The generous legislators did not stop here.

The federal government also joined the loot and plunder rampage and  billions of Rupees were released within the last few days and the government declared Saturday March 16  a working day and ordered banks to remain open, just to ensure that the funds were passed on to the relevant parties.

National and State Bank of Pakistan were ordered to remain open, to accommodate the greed of the outgoing government. Even private banks had to stay open, so that cheques of government or other persons were cleared.

Despite the SC order, the PM appointed his Son-in-Law as Deputy Managing Director of the Pakistan China Investment Company, while former Minister of Local Bodies, thrashed a Secretary for refusing to sign a list of appointments.  All ministerial staff from Information Minister’s office were given lucrative foreign postings. 

CDA Chairman Tahir Shahbaz was sacked over resistence to allotting plots in choice sectors of Islamabad to key bureaucrats.  PPP’s action in the last day in power, are a sad reflection of how it mismanaged the affairs of the country for 5 years and how it shamelessly pillaged the country’s wealth, made wrong appointments and punished anyone who stood in its way, while we, the citizens, who have the most to lose, watched helplessly in stony silence.

Edmund Burke, a statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher, who served in the House of Commons of Great Britain in the 17th century, had written: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.", while a Chinese saying goes: “When pigmies cast long shadows, then it is time for the sun to set”.  Sadly, the days of shaming the shameless are gone, as these days, ‘Is hummam mein hum sub nagei hain’ and all are shameless.

Both quotations are applicable in Pakistan, as due to the silence of the lambs, good men remained silent and did nothing to stop the rot that set into the government and society many years back. We allowed the octopus of corruption to spread its deadly tentacles into every nook and corner, including our armed forces and judiciary and allowed a bunch of pigmies to highjack our system of governance.   Young Bilawal had said that ‘Democracy is the best revenge’, but unfortunately, in the last five years, the PPP government turned democracy into hypocrisy and a farce and the best revenge against the citizens of Pakistan.

However, all is not lost, as the SC took suo moto action and issued notices to the government for the blatant misuse of democracy and power. The nomination papers of two former PMs of PPP have been rejected, as they were ‘not sagacious, righteous, honest, upright, trustworthy and Ameen’. And yet the PPP members, including their respected, educated and well-informed supporters, remain shameless and defend the party with ‘zeal and vigor’.

The nomination papers of ex-President  Musharraf, were rejected and now, even bail has been cancelled and the LEAs have been ordered to arrest him. So now, we have three former leaders who misgoverned us for over thirteen years and have been declared dishonest and not fit to govern and yet they ruled over this land of the Pure over a decade. And now, for the first time in Pakistan’s checkered and twisted political history, a former military dictator and COAS, is  being tried for his sins of omission and commission, including treason and has been arrested. Yet, given the chance, they would still be front-runners in the coming elections and the same old corrupt parliamentarians, led by ‘Ali Baba and his Forty Thieves’ would sweep into power. And this is something that I have never been able to understand.

One can appreciate loyalty to the late ZAB and BB, but surely not to those who have lost their credibility and respect among the citizens, have bankrupted the nation and are referred to as being corrupt.

The old saying, that you can fool some people for some time, has been proved wrong, as in Pakistan, you can fool all the people all the time. 

May God save us from shameless leaders and foolish people of this country. – trust@helplinetrust.org.