In the cauldron of reform - Pakistan Today

In the cauldron of reform

  • Echoes of despair mired in grime

Candid Corner

“A silver-tongued charlatan and a half-wit society are made for each other. When these two come together in an election, a great disaster happens: charlatan comes to power.”

                                                                                                            Mehmet Murat ildan

I have been a vociferous critic of the kind of people who get elected to our assemblies and the reasons which make that possible. I have also consistently contended that if ever an effort is to be initiated to change things, it will have to begin by improving the stock of people who sit in Parliament.

While that effort is nowhere to be seen yet, the members of Parliament have continued to degenerate with the passage of time. What happened on the floor of the National Assembly during this last week, and the kind of language that was used by a member of a mainstream party, cannot be adequately expressed in decent parlance. Instead of castigating the person and moving a multi-party resolution to de-seat him forthwith, he was cheered animatedly by a partisan crowd including the ladies. My head is bowed in shame to know that so appallingly low is the substance of people who represent the nation in the federal legislature.

Let’s also concede that they don’t drop in there from the skies. They are sent there by members of a half-wit society who have languished on the sidelines of life, getting sold repeatedly on the crumbs of those who wield power. This is all part of a system that is tailored to perpetuate the corrupt status-quo to the deprivation of an increasing number of the marginalised communities who continue to sink deeper in the pit of ignorance and depravity. All they have heard through the demeaning years of their existence is the promise of a tomorrow that will relieve them of the burden of their woes and they shall bask in the sunshine of success and happiness. The tragedy is that they still believe it because they have virtually nothing else to latch their hopes on except the facile promises of those whom they continue sending to Parliament to legislate for their relief and deliverance from the perpetuity of pain and hopelessness.

The solution does not lie in turning back the clock and giving way to reliving the indulgences of a morbid past. Instead, there is a need to further expedite the reform process which should be principally focused on rehabilitating the institutions and empowering them to become credible instruments for promoting a clean, transparent, accountable and progressive agenda of the state. The legislature should be right in front of this effort. But that cannot happen with the present degenerate lot of people sitting there. Reforming the election process, ensuring democracy within the political parties and defining the minimum measure of people eligible to sit in Parliament would be the principal features of a major effort to have a group of decent and competent people debate and define the national charter and destiny.

But, instead of attending to the existential challenges that a bulk of the people of the country are faced with and debate a way out, these legislators indulge in vile, vulgar and abusive commentary which is even below the most essential benchmarks of human dignity. But they do so with pride, in utter obsequiousness to their lords and masters who want them to heap scorn and insults on their political opponents without caring one bit whether it would be worthy of their status as elected representatives of the people. That is not a worry because they know that they shall again woo their electorate either by showering them with charm, or demonising them by the dint of power and privilege they exercise. It is such a woeful and endless cycle of deceit heaped upon a blighted people without pity and respite. As George Orwell once said, “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices”.

But, then, this is not confined to just the junior members of the parties. Even the language their leaders use is crass and obscene. One Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is a stalwart of this tribe. Every time he opens his mouth, it is to degrade the Prime Minister. The crappy digs that he takes at him are unworthy of his position as the Chairman of a political party. It appears to spring more from brewing frustration and anger and reveals the person that he really is against the persona that is built around him.

What is all this for? Why is there a continual accentuation of this malady like it has no end and why do they think that the rationale of their survival in the legislature depends solely on outshouting others in abuse? They are not sent to Parliament to become symbols of obscenity and vulgarity. If these be the assets they want to live by, I am sure they can find more appropriate places to practice their slimy art.

One understands that they all want Prime Minister Khan to go so that they could revert back to the days of their unabated loot and plunder. One also understands that, with the dice of a future heavily loaded against their resurgence, there is a state of desperation creeping in regarding their survival as corrupt political contingents of the country. They have imbibed so much filth that they can’t hide it, and confessing to it would mean the end of their political careers. No two places could be harder than the ones they are stuck between and each day that passes further diminishes their power base and their relevance in the fast-changing paradigm.

As the level of desperation increases, so do their abuse and venom. It is like Parliament is being turned into a large vestibule of their puke. Are these the images they would like to leave behind for the younger generations to follow? It is a sad commentary on what the collective forfeiture of morality and ethics has reduced the Parliament to.

The worst part is that no one seems to be concerned about this shameful fall. And there is a reason for that. Traditionally, the ruling elites of the country took the institutions of the state for their personal handmaidens to do as instructed. Examples of this mindset litter the national expanse in abundance. Just pick up any institution and you’ll find indelible signs of corruption, cronyism, nepotism and maladministration inscribed across its masthead. The legislature has been no exception and was an integral part of formulating myopic and self-promoting policies of the family oligarchies who took the country for their inherited fiefdom in the past. Now that some feeble effort is actually going into reforming these institutions so that they could become viable units to do the job they were set up for, there is increasing resistance coming from the very same quarters which manipulated them for their personal advancement. This is breeding anger and exasperation which are so abominably displayed on the floor of Parliament.

The solution does not lie in turning back the clock and giving way to reliving the indulgences of a morbid past. Instead, there is a need to further expedite the reform process which should be principally focused on rehabilitating the institutions and empowering them to become credible instruments for promoting a clean, transparent, accountable and progressive agenda of the state. The legislature should be right in front of this effort.

But that cannot happen with the present degenerate lot of people sitting there. Reforming the election process, ensuring democracy within the political parties and defining the minimum measure of people eligible to sit in Parliament would be the principal features of a major effort to have a group of decent and competent people debate and define the national charter and destiny.

It also cannot happen by just expunging the filth from the record sheets. The likes of Qadir Patel should not be allowed within the august walls of Parliament. His place, and of others of his ilk, in out somewhere in the stink holes which are their exclusive domain.

The writer is a political analyst and the Executive Director of the Regional Peace Institute. He can be reached at: [email protected]; Twitter: @RaoofHasan.



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