No shifting the goalposts | Pakistan Today

No shifting the goalposts

  • The parasites having denuded the state of its potential and promise must be eliminated

“Goals – there is no telling what you can do when you get inspired by them. There is no telling what you can do when you believe in them. And there is no telling what will happen when you act upon them.”

Jim Rohn

Weird things keep happening. One tries not to take notice for such things usually reflect either a state of depleting intelligence or a deepening indulgence in a world of crime so much so that it takes a firm hold to navigate along ways and paths which are better left alone. But, some people are so consumed with hatred and venom and they are hardly left with a choice but to take the poisonous route to shape a destiny that may never be.

A similar scene is being enacted in the annals of politics. There are parties which are not content with anything other than being incessantly in control of the instruments of power and using them to strangulate the fate of an entire nation at the altar of their crass motivations and motives. But such things don’t usually happen like that. Even if they were to happen, they have a short life span followed by a deluge of imponderables that may flush out the dreams altogether.

There is no going back to a past where the word of the ruler was unquestioned and the institutions of the state were controlled through telephone calls, or showering sacks of pelf, or physical assaults to beat them into submission. In spite of layers of corruption still remaining to be tackled, the government has created substantive awareness among people to stand guard against such perpetuation. Eliminating it from the system would take time. For that to happen, it is imperative that the ways to a corrupt past are blocked effectively through a combination of punishment for the guilty and appropriate acknowledgement of the honest and hard-working ones.

By virtue of a pre-orchestrated plan, the parties of the opposition rejected the 2018 elections. They did not even bother to pursue the remedies contained in the system including moving appropriate petitions before the returning officers so that those could be probed. They did it because they knew that their myriad acts of criminally skinning the state to fill their personal coffers lay exposed. The shameful part was that they did not bother to negate the dominant reality and, instead, took the plea that some of the loot had also been invested in public projects. In other words, there was an attempt to legitimise the act of corruption in the domain of politics. A leader who is notorious for using religion for advancing his political objectives went to the extent of saying that corruption was not an issue for him at all. They were either being extraordinarily daring, or they were not in touch with the ground realities which came back to haunt them once the elections were held.

After the decisive drubbing on the election-day, they were in a quandary. If they accepted the results, they would have been forced to concede that corruption, in fact, was a crime and they had been punished for indulging in it. That not being an option, they rejected the results to engage in agitation that the elections had been stolen by the ‘khalai makhlooq’ (meaning the military) and must be held again along rules which would be crafted by them. When their desire was not conceded, and when they realised that Prime Minister Imran Khan was determined in pursuing cases of their corruption in earnest and punishing the culprits, they resorted to sabotaging the working of the government in every way that was within their grasp. In the process, they demeaned themselves by using abusive language about people who were not in politics and had nothing to do, one way or another, with the results of the elections.

This entire hullabaloo carried one message alone: forget about our corruption and we’ll stay quiet. When things did not work that way and some of their leaders were administered punishment by the courts while others were duly indicted to initiate proceedings against them, and when their clandestine contacts with the military did not yield the desired results, they joined hands to initiate a movement to topple the government. It was during the course of holding rallies in major cities of the country that some of their leaders, including the convict-absconder who has run away to London, used highly objectionable language against institutions including the military. They tried desperately to create disaffection for the state by pleading for an independent Baluchistan, annulling Urdu as the national language, dismantling the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan and threatening the military and intelligence chiefs by name that they would be held to account for their actions. This generated immense reaction within their respective parties and the country and calls were made for the government to take action according to the law of the land.

It is in this excessively caustic and polarised environment that elections were held in Gilgit-Baltistan– a highly sensitive area in the context of the machinations of some inimical powers to create disunity among the people there with the principal motive to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). During the election campaign, people were incited by political leaders to rise against the federal government. No restraint was exercised in their poisonous harangues and the government in Islamabad was dubbed an enemy of Pakistan. In the wake of their venomous campaign spread over many months which was further accentuated by their vile propaganda during the run-up to the elections, the results were a foregone conclusion: another drubbing for the parties of the opposition which, among them, could muster a paltry five seats from a total of 23 with the PTI emerging as the single largest party, effectively poised to form the next government.

Yet again the parties of the opposition proclaimed that the elections had been rigged and they would not accept the outcome– a sickening replay of their rejection of the 2018 election results. This has now become an excessively divisive and inflexible opposition narrative: that only those results will be accepted which would declare them winners. All other results will be summarily rejected. This is not how democracies work. The remedies to allegations of fraud are available within the system which should be pursued. Simply rejecting all negative results can only create disharmony which will not contribute to strengthening the roots of democracy.

The tragedy with the opposition leaders is that, first, they gravely misread Prime Minister Khan’s resolve to uproot corruption from the country and, second, they underestimated his determination to make the system and institutions transparently functional so that they would begin serving the people of the country, not its ruling elite alone who had already indulged in stripping the state both of its potential and promise. In spite of innumerable challenges along the way including the no-holds barred agitation by the coalition of the opposition parties, he remains steadfast in moving forth with his dream of helping Pakistan take off on a irreversible trajectory of progress and development.

By denying their indulgence in corruption, or pleading that it was not an issue, the parties of the opposition are digging their graves deeper. There is no going back to a past where the word of the ruler was unquestioned and the institutions of the state were controlled through telephone calls, or showering sacks of pelf, or physical assaults to beat them into submission. In spite of layers of corruption still remaining to be tackled, the government has created substantive awareness among people to stand guard against such perpetuation. Eliminating it from the system would take time. For that to happen, it is imperative that the ways to a corrupt past are blocked effectively through a combination of punishment for the guilty and appropriate acknowledgement of the honest and hard-working ones. They deserve to be boosted, not the parasites which have denuded the state of its flesh, rendering it unprotected and weak.

The goalposts are dug in firmly. There is no shifting them any longer.

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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