Politics in Pakistan has been ruled by a particular class of people since 1947 with most new entries converted to the same mindset and value system. The system we call democracy is in practice an autocracy where the institutions of government are politicised and made into personal forces of the ruling elite. The definition of democracy is a government for the people, by the people and of the people. Practically in Pakistan, the definition of democracy is a government of VIPs, by the VIPs, for the VIPs. The role of the common man and woman is to toil for their beloved homeland, pay bills and taxes to facilitate a life of luxury and hypocrisy for these VIP’s, where they use government vehicles and property for personal gain, where they win tenders for government contracts without any public declaration of bid processes, where they reserve the right to get various agencies and contracts from the state, where they reserve the right to break traffic rules, violate criminal and civil laws and then be granted immunity from the consequences due to their kinship with the holy ruling class! To top it all, they reserve the right to go to Mecca on national airplanes stuffed with their relatives and loyal officials for performance of Hajj and Umrah with state protocol, all paid for by voiceless citizens. They truly believe that even God is fooled by their clan of emperors with no clothes. These privileged people are exempt from paying electricity bills, telephone bills and taxes on assets but live in mansions, drive expensive brands of cars, wear gold and diamond jewels with no declared income but can default on bank loans approved while they are in government.

This system can only run because of the total lack of accountability. The last elected government was instrumental in putting a freeze on the execution of 8,000 convicted criminals who had been given the death penalty. Institutions such as the public accounts committee, anti-corruption departments, National Accountability Bureaus are used for more opportunities to practice fraud with the people. Individuals known to be corrupt are made chairpersons or are representatives of political parties or groups who have allegedly been involved in big scams. And then these organisations give huge salaries and hire favoured consultants on big fees. Even when corruption is identified such as the famous NLC or OGDC scandals, no action is taken. The credentials for the appointment of prime ministers are huge allegations of corruption, arrest warrants on drug scandals and rental power plants. This democracy is committed to bring in successive governments with increasingly bigger scams of the misappropriation of funds and white collar fraud, all in the name of democracy.

This ruling class is composed of a medley of people who come from different ethnic and professional backgrounds; they are politicians, bureaucrats, bankers, judges, landlords, industrialists, journalists, army personnel, religious scholars; literally from every walk of life but held together by the unwritten rule of personal benefit and gain held dominant over national interest. They are also related to each other by various marriages of convenience and the phenomenon of different members of one family being in various political parties is fact. These connections help them avert any accountability as it’s all in the family!

The allegations of corruption hurled by a PPP senator and the Interior minister in the joing session of Parliament led to an ultimate apology offered by the Prime Minister. Any reasonable parliament in any civilised society would have followed this exchange with an investigation into the allegations and the subsequent process of impeachment of the aforementioned members.

But now things are changing….

A few months ago, if the sitting Prime Minister’s daughter wanted her maid to be upgraded to first class from economy class, it would have been done without any resistance from any quarters. But the people of Pakistan have now found the confidence to say what was earlier unspeakable. In another incident, on a flight from Karachi to Islamabad, a sitting ruling party MNA was offloaded by passengers because he was two hours late and had kept 150 common citizens waiting. Accompanying him was an ex interior minister who was also asked to leave. This was previously unheard of in Pakistan where the rule of law has been superseded by the law of jungle.

In Sukkur, the Chief Minister Sindh was on a tour of the flood affected areas and the police was clearing the way for the VIP motorcade to pass. A donkey and his owner were slow to move and the police in their hurry to clear the roads, beat the man and donkey to move them out of the way. The response of the rural people of Sukkur was resistance; all of them aimed to stop the police brutality and finally they had no choice but to step back.

The awakening has come!

 The writer is a citizen living in Lahore.

zarqataimur@gmail.com