While the edifice of a new Pakistan is being erected by the same old hands, with the same old devices, in the same old fashion, there is a growing sense of restlessness and disillusionment, witnessed even among the inmates of our madhouse - let alone the normal lot. Here is a heated debate I overheard between two hillbillies just the other day:

“It is strange. It is strange,” mumbled one madman repeatedly.

“Just what is so strange, man?” inquired another, sitting beside him.

“The alleged appointment of Mustafa Ramday as the acting Advocate General of Punjab and his appearing before the Supreme Court on behalf of the provincial government in the same capacity,” replied the first.

“What about it?” asked the second curiously.

“Doesn’t the name Ramday ring any bell with you?” came forth the query-cum-reply.

“Of course, it does. I remember Mr Ramday for his opposition to the commando and his role in the reinstatement of the Chief Justice. And later, after his retirement, his appointment as an ad hoc judge, for which the Pakistan Bar Council gave the Supreme Court a tough time,” replied the second fool.

“Good. You got a good memory,” quipped the first one, letting out a guffaw.

“Now come on. What you are driving at?” asked the other, apparently irritated.

“Well, I find it moronically ironic for a government claiming to be democratic in letter and yet cultivating the seeds of nepotism, cronyism and favouritism in spirit, as if there is no rule of law in the country, as if we are really a nation of imbeciles,” answered the first, now settling himself for a serious exposition.

“Enunciate it for me. Expand on it. Throw some light on it please. You see, I am only a fool,” pleaded the second.

“Well, it is the talk of the town. No secret as such. Even a lunatic like me knows about that. Anyway, I will do what you ask for,” said the first, adding, “let me first ask you a simple question. Do you by any chance know who Mustafa Ramday is?”

“Well, no,” curtly replied the second.

“He is the son of Justice (retd) Khalilur Rehman Ramday, you just eulogised,” the first said.

“And?” asked the second still further.

“That he is the nephew of the PML-N MNA and former Federal Minister, Chaudhry Asadur Rehman, who got elected on the NA 94, Toba Tek Singh, seat.”

“And?”

“That Mustafa Ramday was actively involved in his election campaign.”

“And?”

“That he is the first cousin of the former Advocate General Punjab, Raza Farooq, who tragically enough, died at a young age, in May 2010, in Islamabad, while in the line of duty,” remarked the first.

“And?”

“That he is the member of a family firm, Ramday Law Associates. The baby of the PML-N, so to say. And beneficiary of high-profile Punjab government cases in the recent past.”

“And?”

“That he is the nephew of the LHC’s honourable judge, Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali.”

“Now wait a minute. Just how come all the credentials you just mentioned disqualify him for his post? You know I’d rather take them as his strong points, making him perfectly eligible for the job,” observed the second idiot disapprovingly.

“Oh, I was, as they say, just warming up. Here’s how, I tell you, his selection has more to do with cronyism than meritocracy and transparency - which the federal government so cockily stands for,” replied the first, continuing, “First of all, as per Article 140 of the constitution, only that person could be appointed the Advocate General, who is eligible for the post of a high court judge. Mustafa, it appears, is not. Why? Because, the minimum age limit of such a law officer has to be 45 years. He is only 41. Secondly, the Punjab government has adopted an indirect procedure to fill the vacant post and to accommodate an individual of choice, while the law demands otherwise. Ergo, the PBC Vice Chairman, Syed Qalb-i-Hassan’s remark that the appointment was made ‘in a very ridiculous manner, ignoring relevant constitutional provisions’.”

“Hmm, should we construe then the selection has been made on purely political basis, since the guy had appeared as a counsel for the Sharif brothers and that he had political affiliation and ties with the party?” asked the second, now somehow satisfied with the line of argument.

“Well, apparently, it seems like it. But you don’t have to jump to conclusions. Personally, I’d prefer the law to take its course, as the case is pending in the LHC. Besides, passing judgments isn’t the way of us lunatics, but of the normal lot,” replied the first in a light tone and with that both burst into big laughs.

“But I still don’t get it, you know. Despite the feverish efforts by the PML-N central and provincial government, it has, to some extent, failed in creating a soft corner for itself in the apex court. Just recall the grilling of Mustafa in the Supreme Court the other day on the issue of local body elections. And the strong censure by the Chief Justice with regard to the party leadership, equating it with kings and kingdoms,” said the second fool.

“That is true. Could be one reason why Ramday Sr. declined to head the Bhoja Air Crash Commission a couple of days ago, even against a hefty, Rs 5 million. As you can see, all other retired judges are busying themselves with one or another commission these days. I mean just look at the sky-high popularity of the super-hit blockbuster, Abbottabad Commission Report - which is the brainchild of Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal - and which made such inroads in the national discourse via foreign routes (read Aljazeera),” put the first fool as if in meditation.

To which the second replied: “Well, yeah. I agree with you on that. And coming back to the subject, it is just so sad to see the two sons of our top two judges face such criticism, for one or another reason. First it was Arsalan Iftikhar. And now, it is Mustafa Ramday. One can only hope there surface no more scandals in the future. We already have so many.

“Sometimes, I just feel as if we are merely a nation of sleazy scandals. In the US, there was only one gate, the Watergate, which shook the very foundations of the state, resulting in the demise of the Nixon administration. Look at us, the wretched lot. We have Mediagate, Bahriagate, gate this, gate that and yet no veritable gateway to open the doors for any meaningful peace, progress and prosperity.”

The writer is a researcher and a freelance columnist based in Islamabad.