As Pakistani society evolves and experiments with some form of neoliberalism, democracy and materialism, the toll on values, family system and our youth is discern-able. While the rich Oligarchy resorts to imperiousness and cocooned chutzpah, the other social classes are experiencing their own economic apartheid. Down the ladder, Bahriatownisation of middle class and their standoffishness with lower classes is giving birth to a serious class gap. The hapless poor toiling in the daily wilderness and trying to make both end meet finds him-self in the meat grinder of survival. Rural poor and farmer community is running from pillar to post to sell their agricultural produce to the middle man, a vulture gnawing at the very roots of our rural social fibre.
Has democracy delivered the basics to the downtrodden and disenfranchised as enshrined in the constitution; can a family survive in a poor household with earnings of less than 10000 Rs a month, how does a common man meet the basic requirements of family health, education of children and matters of marriage and death? Can the mantra of CPEC, economic upturn on the horizon, and, parroting of infrastructure development through borrowed loans, satisfy the average Joe in the cities and villages of Pakistan?
What is the issue being discussed in parliament; constitutional amendments to preserve the turf of Oligarchy resulting in cacophony of their gasconade and power grab, with displayed apathy to socio economic health of the lower classes.
Even at the cost of repetition from one of my previous articles, I would remind the people at helm of affairs in Pakistan through a quote of Frederic’ Bastiat , “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorises it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
The echo of constitutional amendments in the parliament by the Prime Minister and its tacit support from Khursheed Shah tends to confirm that Pakistani Oligarchy is now moving Pakistan into the realm of exploitation as predicted by Frederic’ Bastiat; the loot and plunder is being justified through threats of constitutional amendments and taking help from a new legal system that authorises corruption and a moral code that glorifies it.
We must understand that Pakistan faces a hybrid war that thrives in an environment of cronyism, poverty, rampant corruption by elite, bad governance, outflows of money overseas, disenfranchisement of youth, unbridled media and increasing gap between the haves and have-nots.
While the elite continue to reap the bounties by an exploitative system of cronyism, the masses are being bewildered through political trash thrown on TV screens on daily basis. All political parties have patronised social media teams, well fed with money and fodder to swarm political debate, hiding behind the wall of irresponsibility. Social media rage generated by these teams gradually permeates into print and electronic media through sponsored surrogates. Hidden behind this smoke screen of bewilderment created by chaos generators, the elite seem to be busy in pursuing the agenda of loot and plunder. Although the claims of economic progress may have some truth, it is half-truth, as piling up of humongous loans and a spiral of Ponzi rotation of money is making it difficult to pay back every year.
Two standing institutions are the favourite target of the corrupted system and its beneficiaries; point scoring against Army and Judiciary has become favourite mantra of the so called pseudo intellectuals and liberals, duly supported by Mafioso and corrupt elite. Unfortunately we saw Achakzai Sahib resorting to mudslinging against the Army for open sale of Senate tickets done by a political party.
It is important to view the effects of the Panama and other Mega Corruption cases being tackled by SCP and NAB on common Pakistanis and how it has tarnished Pakistan’s stature in the comity of nations. The questions raised during the corruption cases have highlighted loop holes in our democratic dispensation, which need an objective debate in the media:-
How does it affect decision making and sovereignty of Pakistan, if public office holders have business interests in foreign countries? Can the Pakistani state have normal leverage with other states in foreign policy when business interests of leadership at highest level clash with national interests? Can our public office holders at high position have resident status in foreign countries; how does it affect the business of the state?
If the next generation of our leaders prefer in not only staying abroad but also adopting foreign lands as their home, what message we are giving to people of Pakistan?
Are off shore accounts, a recipe for concealment of wealth? If institutions, responsible for accountability are headed by cronies, loyalists and bosom buddies, are we falling into the trap of what was predicted by Frederic’ Bastiat.
The psychological effect of Panama case on the collective psyche has been damaging; how does it affect Pakistani state and individuals? If leadership is reflection of our collective psyche and polity, are we a nation of crooks and criminals who would use all energies to deceive and decoy facts?
When it comes to the question of Democracy and Rule of Law, the public should not be misled through fake charade of victimhood; few of the arguments need to be discussed as a national debate;
SCP and its honourable judges have started a process of cleanup of Pakistan from corrupt Mafiaso, it has been across the board and transparent, with enough time given to defendants to fight their cases.
Elections and accountability are part of democratic process, election victory does not give one a license to loot and plunder. Recent remarks by the Chief Justice of India that,Crooks and Corrupt should not head political parties, highlights the moral code of conduct to be adopted by Public Office holders, echos the same sentiment.
Frederic’ Bastiat highlighted the role of public by stating, “When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.” Are we collectively pushing the individual Pakistani to lose respect for Pakistani Law?
I will end the paper with a quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
The author is a freelance journalist.