System Vs Pakistan | Pakistan Today

System Vs Pakistan

Why would beneficiaries of a system change it and endanger their benefits?

When the system and their country cannot coexist a choice is forced to save what is dearer

Don Sharif, Godfather of the Raiwind Mafia, is striking back by repeatedly committing contempt of court and defaming the Pakistan army, speaking the narrative of Pakistan’s enemies. They threaten to take Pakistan back to 1970. They wish to encourage Balochistan to declare independence: India is waiting in the wings to pounce. They are changing the law to save one man. They are showing what being undemocratic means. They are showing what being un-Islamic means. They are showing what being treacherous means. They are demonstrating what stupidity means. They are going to come to a messy end. This is a thing ordained. They know not that this is not 1970.

Last Thursday, many of the Don’s party ministers and members in the National Assembly led by Riaz Peerzada walked out in protest against the government spying on them through the Intelligence Bureau, even suggesting that some may be linked to terrorists. Former respected prime minister Zafrullah Jamali prayed in a scathing speech that death would visit this parliament before death visits him. This is no ordinary event. It is the beginning of the unraveling process. By the end of the year there may be hardly anyone in Nawaz Sharif’s party, possibly not even his brother. More than 50 are said to be already talking to Chaudhry Shujat. Nature is taking its course. The system is self-destructing while the country is self-correcting. The Nawaz Sharif type of politician cannot coexist. It’s going to be interesting and educative to watch.

Meantime, we are suffering from confusion and pessimism of the worst kind. Some say that Pakistan is going down every day; others are convinced that good days will soon be upon us. Both are right: to achieve upward mobility Pakistan may well have to go through a really bad time caused by the system self-destructing and the country self-correcting. Self-destruction will be defined by official bankruptcy, chaos and anarchy; self-correction by ruthless accountability and then to a political system that throws up the best amongst us as rulers who provide good governance. So when the system self-destructs it could give way to a better system and good days will certainly be upon us.

All these comings and goings amidst Nawaz Sharif’s hysteria and harangues have created the suspicion that he may have been disqualified by the Supreme Court but ever since he has been trying to make a mockery of the judgment and defaming the army — basically defaming the two most important institutions in the country, running down the highest court in the land by making repeated contemptuous statements against it and taunting the army. He used his brute (and questionable) majority in the National Assembly to bludgeon a bill through that allows a disqualified person to head a political party. His party supine bondsmen and women in the party have duly ‘elected’ him party leader again. What are we to make of this? That a disqualified, internationally disgraced person can get away with murder? That instead of at least facing contempt charges and being placed on the Exit Control List till the criminal cases against him in the accountability courts are decided, he is allowed to escape to London once again with the connivance of the government and right under the nose of the Supreme Court and the army? It is confusing — utterly.

Nawaz Sharif’s wife Kulsum has won election on the seat vacated by her disqualified husband. Does that mean that she could become de jure prime minister and with Nawaz Sharif living in the Prime Minister’s House as veritable de facto prime minister. Echoes of Asif Zardari during Benazir Bhutto’s two stints as prime minister.

Asif Zardari for his part has been cleaned up by a Category 5 carwash. He was also allowed to proceed to London supposedly (and as usual) for ‘medical’ reasons. Confusingly, some have been allowed to return. NAB has challenged Zardari’s acquittal in a case regarding his assets allegedly illegally acquired. In a fit of optimism this newspaper was moved to headline: “ZARDARI’S JOY RIDE CUT SHORT BY NAB CHALLENGE. Accountability watchdog moves LHC against acquittal of former president in illegal assets reference.” Watchdog my foot, NAB is an accountability carwash. Nawaz eyewash, Zardari carwash: is that our fate? This is the unfortunate feeling abroad.

If we wish to understand the seemingly utter confusion, we have to tear down the veil that blinds us. Behind the veil you see different images as if in a room of mirrors that can drive a person nuts. Looks can be very deceptive. But one thing I am certain of: whether there will be an election next year is a question supremely irrelevant so let’s not waste time on exercises in futility.

People thought that after the Supreme Court verdict disqualifying Nawaz Sharif from holding public office for life, the process of across-the-board accountability would start and all remaining corrupt would soon be brought to book. The more optimistic thought that our man-eating political system would change for the better, one that produces good governments in which the public good is central to all policies. Not yet.

Tear down the veil and you will find the obvious question lurking: “Why would beneficiaries of a system change the system and endanger their benefits?”

Consider. The powerful beneficiaries of our inhuman system have got rid of only one person, Nawaz Sharif. They may have no intention of changing the system for the obvious reason that it benefits them hugely. Why would they get rid of it and damage, perhaps destroy, themselves? Doesn’t make sense.

They got rid of Nawaz Sharif ONLY because he had crossed all limits of how much corruption; nepotism and misgovernance would be tolerated by an unlettered people, how much he could get away with without the volcano erupting and the masses being roused to revolt against the system. I wonder, therefore, whether Nawaz’s trial was really a national rescue mission in the guise of a sham accountability exercise to save the system from itself or whether it was a mission to save Pakistan from its enemies within? By trashing Nawaz Sharif they have actually let enough steam out of the volcano to stop it from erupting and bringing the whole cathouse of inequity down. They have actually saved the system from itself for themselves.

The return of Nawaz Sharif and his corrupt finance minister, Ishaq Dar, fortified the notion that this accountability is Sharif specific. Sharif and Dar have already been charged/indicted by the accountability court. Then they let him go to London to look after his ailing wife. Is it that they don’t want to make a hero out of him? Perhaps they wish to take the wind out of his sails by not allowing him even the modicum of an excuse that all the demands of due process and of justice were not met. In the event they might be overdoing the forbearance charade and may well find that Sharif or some baby Sharif may return to bite them on their generous derrieres again.

However, the “special” meeting of the corps commanders and the ISPR chief’s press talk thereafter is interesting to say the least. Of course he denied that martial law would be imposed either directly or indirectly, but he also said when asked why a press release had not been issued after the meeting that “silence is also an expression”. It
brought to mind the poet who said that, “said words are sweet; those unsaid are sweeter still.”

This could be ominous. Silence may simply be a way of ducking a difficult question. It could also mean something is cooking. Let’s see. But one thing is certain: the days of direct army/military takeover are over unless the very existence of a country is in danger. If there is any kind of intervention it will have to be a joint venture between the institutions most under attack by Nawaz Sharif: namely the judiciary, the army and the people. But this is precisely what Sharif wants so that he can paint himself a ‘political martyr’ in hope of getting cheap international and national sympathy. Methinks times have changed, but I could be wrong: you can never underestimate people’s stupidity and international perfidy. The general’s words are pregnant with ominous possibilities. As for me, I have developed this sense of foreboding now. Things may be spiraling out of human control, which means that nature will take its ruthless course.

This has become a pretty convoluted article which reflects the utter confusion pervading. Here’s hoping that next time there is a little more clarity. But my foreboding remains and grows.

Humayun Gauhar

Humayun Gauhar is a veteran columnist in Pakistan and editor of Blue Chip magazine.