Moral slump is a pervasive pre-election perception, as battle for the ballot boxes loom ahead.

The makeup of democracy comes with a big price. One manifestation of it is in the corridors of power, which are flooded with bogus credentials. What takes a young man or woman years of hard work to attain legitimately now can be obtained through a counterfeit mill, calling it fake degrees.

But even more serious is the absence of rule of law, the spectre of constant insecurity, lack of fair dealing, unavailability of equal opportunity, and arbitrary actions. Family-operated oligopolies masquerade as political parties.

All of the above are tantamount to the phenomenon of fake governance. It is difficult to build a structure when the rudiments of foundations and infrastructure are not there.

The energy crisis afflicting the nation should by all standards be considered unacceptable in the 21st century. Yet, the on and off syndrome of loadshedding, which is devastating to the national economy as well as to the minimum well being of the people, is being digested as the new normal.

Not surprising then is the emerging issue of counterfeit pledges. Tall promises are proliferating, along with the allure of instant solutions to deeply embedded complex problems. The race for power is running parallel with rampant inflation.

What is needed is the writ of state ensuring equal protection under law. What is not needed is more talk and more talk shows. The task of rulers is to inspire confidence in the public that tomorrow is going to be better. It is not to leave behind a legacy of energy-draining despondency.

Pakistan has always had plenty of leaders, but where it does lack is in its leadership. Hidden amidst the commotion is the growing monopoly of big media houses, carrying within it conflicts of interest and the appearance of impropriety.

Now these dominant media houses are beginning to encroach into executive territory, the implications of which will slowly unfold. It would be difficult now to quarantine big media’s overriding influence, which is seeping into spheres outside its domain.

Sometimes, the system corrupts the man. Sometimes, the man corrupts the system. Either way, the average citizenry suffers and governance erodes. The rule of the unqualified and inept has brought sorry results.

When there is no vetting for the top slot, one can imagine the consequences and its impact on the middle and the bottom, who are likely to take cues from the top. Recommendation then becomes the sole qualification. No wonder many organisations are dysfunctional, bloated as they are with non-performers. What were once ships of excellence have now been torpedoed by mediocrity.

In the field of sports, the decline of cricket, squash and hockey stand out. Similar, too, has been the case of academia. The same applies to diplomacy abroad where those sent often have neither the personality nor the mentality to deliver the goods. Without a sweeping overhaul and revamp of policy and personnel, it shall be more of the same.

Can the nation afford more of the same? Or has the addiction to nonsense on the airwaves numbed the senses?

    The writer is an attorney-at-law and policy analyst based in Washington DC. He is the first Pakistani American member admitted to the US Supreme Court Bar.