Every man...or woman has a price, they say. No one is above board. Every armour has a chink.

But as the nation watched the events preceding the Senate elections, as the rumours about the bidding and horse trading emerged, many wished that there was a semblance of decency attached to the sordid affair.

It is indeed a sad state of affairs if those aspiring to a seat in the august house of the Senate, or getting elected for the top slots of the Senate, appear fallible. Whether the rumours are true or not, the fact that it is the talk of the town, and the fact that most people assume there is no smoke without a fire, is damaging enough.

Horse trading, a demeaning terminology, has many facets.

Those with the means to buy loyalties, and those willing to take the bait; the buyers and the sellers:

The genuine winners and the actual losers:

These are all the actors involved.

The men and women who succumb to temptation certainly deserve to be looked down upon since they not only disgrace themselves, but also bring discredit to the office that they assume. It destroys the trust of the people to think that for a mere seat in the Senate, the aspirants are willing to steep so low. It destroys the respect in the minds of the young people for government officials. What could be more discouraging for the people of a nation than to see that the future of their country will depend on candidates who place higher value on money instead of principles? How will they fare when they are in the Senate? What will their values be when they are in a position to influence the matters of the state?

One is not sure how much truth is in the astronomical amounts being quoted of having exchanged hands, but figures in many zeroes have apparently been doled out. This process puts a big question mark on those who have so much money to spare to be able to buy loyalties. Obviously, this could not be hard earned, clean money. This proves that the king –makers must be sitting on a mound of ill-gotten wealth which they so proudly dangle as bait in front of those who have feet of clay. It seems that the only thing they want is to have their own puppets in the right place, by hook or, more likely, by crook.

Everyone who is in the race for the Senate election might not necessarily be up for sale. There will certainly be many who win on merit and do not bow down to temptation or threat. But the terrible thing about horse trading is that it stains the genuine winners too. It must be extremely annoying for them to be placed in the same category of people who take bribes to win a place in the Senate.

The sword is double –edged.

Genuine winners can be seen with suspicion and genuine losers can cry wolf and claim to be victims of horse-trading. They can take advantage of the situation by pretending their defeat is not real but manipulated.

This phenomenon of buying loyalties is neither new nor unusual. It has been happening since decades now. The only difference is that now the public awareness has increased. People are not ready to take it lying down any longer. Even the man in the street has become politically savvy and cannot be taken for a ride anymore.

Media can and must play a bigger and more positive role towards unmasking the real culprits and their abetters. It is time that the media stopped wasting its own time and that of its viewers on mundane and useless topics. It is time for it to take its nation building role more seriously. Without mud –slinging and mere accusations, the true faces of those buying and selling loyalties should be exposed. The punishment of the exposed characters would be that they will be disgraced and socially boycotted to set a precedent and their own children will not be proud of them.

What could be a worse penalty than that?

Let us not confuse democracy with “note-ocracy”.

Why always look towards the courts or establishment to remedy matters? We should all play a role in shunning those dabbling in immoral behaviour, especially if it concerns the whole nation.

Elections are around the corner and the fate of the next several years will be determined by the events that lead up to it.

Anything that is not based on principles and up for sale to the highest bidder can never command respect or deference.

Greasing palms can never augur well for the future of our country.


The author is the Project Coordinator for a Pak German humanitarian organisation and a freelance writer.