- A classic case of thieves joining hands to save the spoils of their thievery
“The motive behind criticism often determines its validity. Those who care criticise where necessary. Those who envy criticise the moment they think they have found a weak spot.”
Spending a few minutes listening to the shrieking and howling on the television screens, crassly led by the anchors themselves, one gets away with a feeling that some earth-shaking event is taking place which is going to change the course of things in the country. In actual effect, this agenda-driven activity precedes every event planned by the opposition parties with an intention to rock the PTI government. In spite of a history of acrimony separating some leading parties apart, what are the factors which now bind them together?
PML-N and PPP are the two political forces which have taken turns at ruling this country and their mutual hatred has been no secret. In times past, they have accused each other of corruption, maladministration, even treachery. Their leaders have threatened to hang their opponents by the poles, tear their stomachs apart, and drag them through the streets.
The current political game is being played out by the beneficiary elite of the past principally to sabotage the accountability and reform programmes of the government. The divide has been further accentuated by a firm no by the Prime Minister to any compromise with the guilty. The ones facing political extinction are now engaged in a last-ditch battle to save their loot, and themselves.
So, what brings them together to stage a joint protest? It is nothing other than saving themselves from the consequences of the spree of loot and plunder that they had unleashed during their respective tenures in power, laundering billions of illicit funds into their foreign accounts. Owing to the process of accountability which the PTI government has initiated in the country, gory details of their daylight robberies have not only surfaced, but cases have been registered against the perpetrators to be appropriately punished. Each day, new instances of merciless pillage are unearthed and handed over to the concerned institutions.
Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Safdar have already been convicted for their crimes. Grave new cases against them await adjudication. Shahbaz Sharif and Hamza Shahbaz are currently in NAB custody undergoing interrogation. There are cases implicating virtually all members of the Sharif family who have absconded, consequently declared fugitives.
The Zardaris fare no better than this. Countless cases of laundering billions through fake accounts are registered against them and proceedings are ongoing. Following in the footsteps of Nawaz Sharif, they are also faking illness to escape the dragnet of justice.
With the successful conclusion of these cases, not only the leaders of the two parties will have to spend prolonged periods behind the bars, but their properties would be confiscated, and they would be declared ineligible to participate in elections for life, thus leading to dismantling of their political empires. This is a harrowing prospect that looms above.
Fazlur Rehman is part of the bandwagon because he has suffered from incurable hallucinations ever since having been left out of the parliament and the government both. He has failed to bear the consequent humiliation. A large number of his properties, amounting to billions, have also been discovered. This is presently being investigated by the NAB and there are chances that he may be summoned soon to answer a few questions. His presence in the coalition is also owed to his ability to marshalling the captive students of his seminaries for staging political rallies. All other parties are there only to gain some relevance in the political arena.
The mala fide intent of the agitation is not hidden. The results of the last elections were not accepted by these parties at the very outset without first pursuing the remedial process outlined in the constitution. Virtually no election petitions were moved by PML-N and other parties. The self-imposed silence over the last two years could be attributed to behind-the-scene efforts for securing an unconstitutional reprieve for the guilty leaders. Having lost any hope now, and with their political fate hanging by the most tenuous of threads, the only recourse available was to stir agitation – which is what these parties are now trying to rake up. This makes for a classic case of thieves joining hands to save the spoils of their thievery.
The timing of the protest movement is also an important constituent making for a malevolent cause. The process of reform that the PTI government initiated immediately after coming into power was a Herculean effort to put things right. When so much damage had been inflicted upon the country by the preceding governments resulting in grave economic conditions and dismantled institutions, difficult times were bound to be a necessary phase to pass through before things would begin to improve. Additionally, Sharifs and Zaradris unleashed their mafias, whom they had nurtured through their days in power, to further accentuate the problem by resorting to hoarding and artificial price hikes. That created serious issues for the common people, rendering purchase of basic commodities beyond their reach. It is this feeling that the opposition conglomerate is trying to exploit. But, will they succeed in this design?
The predominant chances are in the negative, and there are cogent reasons making this case. There may have been disappointments for the people in the last two years as a number of them expected immediate results, but a majority of them understand that the process of reform is time consuming and remedies would come once the ingredient causes of the division between the beneficiary elite and the common folks have been eliminated. This involves a change in the way people look upon things or, more correctly, the way they have been nurtured to look upon things – to work by contacts, not merit, and to operate by exploiting the system, not by making it transparent, accountable, robust and sustainable. The country was virtually caving in under the unbearable burden of free-loaders who had been imposed on it through decades of exploitation.
There is another aspect which should not be overlooked in the process of making projections. People are far more aware today of the wrong-doings of these past rulers than they ever were. They are fully cognisant of the remorseless plunder and, consequently, there are diminished chances for this band of thugs to secure their support. There may be a lot of noise, there may even be some numbers, but people also know that there is no prospect of any change by resorting to these self-serving tactics, particularly when the past leaders stand fully exposed in the courts of law.
The current political game is being played out by the beneficiary elite of the past principally to sabotage the accountability and reform programmes of the government. The divide has been further accentuated by a firm no by the Prime Minister to any compromise with the guilty. The ones facing political extinction are now engaged in a last-ditch battle to save their loot, and themselves. There is going to be much hue and cry as could be clearly gauged from the build-up to the first protest meeting which turned out to be a horrid anticlimax, thus exposing hollow the claims of their popularity. The agitation may totter along, but Prime Minister Khan remains resolute to rectify the errors of the past by cleaning up the system. He is also determined to punish the ones who have weakened the state by robbing it of its promise.
There comes a time in the history of nations when people, in spite of a measure of personal discomfort, must stand up for the cause of the state. That time is now – to stand alongside the Prime Minister and give him the strength that he needs to free this country of the tentacles of an inglorious past and put it on course to irreversible recovery and progress.