The Panama Papers case against incumbent Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, in the backdrop of Panama Leaks, has been making headlines these days in Pakistan. After large hue and cry by the opposition parties, predominantly by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), over the allegations that the prime minister had offshore property assets which, PTI thought, had been made through illegal means. PML-N chief’s first trial for alleged involvement in money laundering started in people’s court on the roads, with PTI having the baton among the parties in opposition and asking the prime minister to resign. Both political parties initially tried to politicize the issue and flexed their muscles over the issue trying to prove each other wrong until the issue knocked the door of the Supreme Court for resolution.The Supreme Court has, after a long consideration, come up with a judgment vis-à-vis the case in which majority of the judges are of the opinion that Joint Investigation Team (JIT) be formed to probe the corruption charges made against the incumbent prime minister and then in the light of the investigations made by the JIT a final decision be made with respect to the fate of the prime minister.
The issue at hand is that of corruption. The alleged perpetrator is the incumbent prime minister. This is the golden opportunity for citizens of Pakistan to put their house in order, and take to task all those who in the name of their representatives rob them for their vested interests. But can people of Pakistan keep the issue alive so that it may reach its end successfully?
Normally, what happens in Pakistan is that people do not stay with a problem for a long time for its resolution. There is a pattern, if you have observed, about how an issue emerges in Pakistan and how it fades away. Here is what happens normally. Suddenly, we are nudged out of our slumber by a problem. It grabs spotlight for a while making people realize the existence of the problem, and then politics surrounding the issue starts. Stuck in the vortex of politics, people lose sight of the actual problem, and thus the issue fades away in such a way after some time as if it never existed in the first place. So many a time, we have come across face to face with haunting issues of ours and with an opportunity to resolve those issues once and for all. But our failure to keep the issue alive for a long time has helped those issues fade away without any serious approach on our part towards their resolution. The above statement can be substantiated through our non-serious approach to deal with the issue of extremism, take to task those in uniform for breaching the law of the land with impunity, as it was reflective in Musharraf’s treason case and, inter alia, take into account corruption on the part of political representatives.
At present, we are in no different situation. An issue has questioned us in the face not unlike the issues which have questioned us in the past. The issue before us is that our prime minister has a hand in money laundering allegedly and for that he needs to be trialed. For this, JIT as per the judgment of Panama case is in the making; but the way this case, with respect to the issue at hand, that is corruption, has been proceeding, is very conventional. Once again politics has started to define the course for the issue to take, as both parties to the case have started to celebrate the verdict as somehow their victory. There is a fair chance that people might get lost in this political whirlwind. It will be hoping against hope to get something concrete out of it if the issue is left to interest of mere parties to the case and people remain mere spectators. For its successful culmination, there is a dire need for relentless attention on the part of citizens to keep the issue alive. And the only way to keep it alive is not to give into politics over the issue rather to raise voice for resolution of the issue that has asked us in the face as a nation.
Corruption is one of the major problems of Pakistan. Though the issue has asked us at various points in our 70 years history for its resolution, but our knee-jerk reactions to the issue and most of the time shying away from facing it squarely has cost us a lot. To this cost, not only those who are party to corruption have contributed, but also we, the citizens, have left no stone unturned in letting this plague spread its tentacles to every nook and corner by either condoning corrupt practices or not taking a stand against it morally. Our stand, especially that of the citizens, against the issue, in the past, has been defined by vested interests of those in politics; and this has not let us play our due role against the issues that we face day in day out for which we have to bear the brunt at the end of the day.
Let us resolve one thing at this point in time. This time, we are going to stay with the problem and will not give in to politics over the issue until the issue is resolved. Let us adopt this approach to all our nagging problems which time and again haunt us, and each time, instead of getting a serious approach on our part towards their resolution, they find our approach dictated by concerns of those having vested interests. Let us resolve that our stand against corruption will not be impeded by our political affiliations. Let’s play the role of apolitical citizen in a political system that is completely immersed in corruption.