A litany of deceit and deception

Slandering the state that feeds and nurtures

Candid Corner

“Deceit and falsehood, whatever conveniences they may for a time promise or produce, are, in the sum of life, obstacles to happiness. Those who profit by the cheat distrust the deceiver, and the act by which kindness was sought puts an end to confidence.” –Samuel Johnson

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The chicanery practiced by multiple layers of the PML(N) leadership ever since their drubbing in the last elections has begun to fall apart owing to fault lines which run through their devious strategy and machinations. The recent setbacks pertaining to the busting of the so-called foreign-funding case against the PTI, orchestrated rumours about the possibility of a deal with the establishment having been denied by the military and the tell-all audio leak regarding the tactics practised by the party leadership to keep the media hostage together with the abusive language used in reference to some of the journalists, amply demonstrate the fascist approach that the party leadership has employed through its years in and out of power. It remains an integral component of its governance game plan.

In the tradition of Goebbels, they believe that one must not only lie, but do so repeatedly and aggressively till it actually begins looking like the truth. Their narrative so far over the last three years, and well over some decades since the inception of the faction called PM(N), has been a shameful litany of lies, deceit, deception, forgery and crookedness in whatever they have set out to do.

Learning the tricks early with stabbing his benefactors for political gains, Nawaz Sharif went on to exploit every tool that he could muster, most notably the use of money, to rise upward. It would not be untrue if one were to claim that he literally bought his way to the top: from being the finance minister of Punjab to becoming its chief minister to being the prime minister of the country three times, and dreaming to keep going to install a family oligarchy.

Strictly in the mould of the instruments and tactics that he guilefully employed to ensure his advance in the political arena, he also bred a bunch of people, both from his immediate family and among party members, who could further improve upon this to stamp permanence to their tenure in the annals of power. But, somewhere along the way, things went horribly wrong and the veneer of performance which had been so fallaciously crafted started falling apart and exposing vast reservoirs of pelf, incompetence, deceit and fraud.

But, they also possessed a rare commodity in ample stocks, unmatched by any competitor in the political domain. This is the ingredient of shamelessness which oozes out of every word they speak, every step they take and every trick they employ. An appraisal of their defence regarding the cases emerging from the Panama Leaks would provide a classic repertoire of the sinister strategy they have consistently espoused to advance their political stakes.

In the beginning, Nawaz Sharif did not pay much attention to the accusations contained in the Panama Leaks because he was convinced that this would soon pass. But when it did not and the crescendo rose to deafening decibels, he first resorted to addressing the people using the state apparatus and resources, laying out a retinue of assets that he and his family had for purchasing the alleged properties. When that did not work, he used the floor of Parliament to make false claims and strangle the noise that had kept rising. When even that did not achieve the needful and the matter went to the court of law, he came up with the crudest blend of lies, fake letters, forged documents and just about everything he and his legal team could lay their hands on to convince the judges that he actually had the legitimate resources to invest in acquiring a string of the most expensive properties throughout the world. Simultaneously, his heir apparent, Maryam Safdar, went public with the ludicrous claim that she did not own any property at all, either in Pakistan or abroad.

The problem is that evil minds would always resort to evil tactics to secure their objectives. This is what the Sharifs have been doing through their tenures in power, and since their oyster. In assaulting the state and its institutions with indescribable venom and hatred, they have as good as burnt their boats. The journey back to the top, if such a path can still be conceived, is strewn with insurmountable impediments which are mostly of their own making. They have virtually ousted themselves from contention.

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The stockpile of ‘evidence’ they ended up submitting before the court did not have any value and was duly rubbished. Nawaz Sharif and Maryam were convicted and declared ineligible for holding any public office for life. They were also awarded time in jail.

That is when that other segment of their devious strategy started unfolding: Nawaz Sharif pretended that he was suffering from a life-threatening disease which had impacted his platelets count. It became an endless drama which played on from morning to afternoon through the night to the next morning– without any hint of a respite! It was a phenomenal enactment in the art of make-believe: to convince people about a disease which did not exist in the first place. He was shifted to the hospital and his daughter was awarded a suspended sentence to look after her father. So, as a first step, both of them were out of the jail and ensconced in the comfort of the hospital through the courtesy of their cronies who had been planted in every state institution by indulging the culture of gross nepotism.

Then, they started work on routing their escape through the medical board. After getting the requisite prescription from there, they managed to assure the court that Nawaz was only going abroad for his treatment and would return within the stipulated time span. A guarantee to the effect was furnished that he would come back within the time span of eight weeks. So, off he went to London.

It is now almost 20 months since then, yet he has not returned. In the meanwhile, he has been declared a proclaimed offender and orders passed that he should be brought back by the state through employing all possible means. Maryam Safdar, who was released on suspended sentence to look after her father in the hospital, remains free shooting B-grade videos, churning out nasty tweets, packing piles of lies in her press conferences, and even leading protest marches. And the guarantor of his brother’s return, Shahbaz Sharif, is busy delivering lectures on morality and the need for ascendancy of the rule of law.

Money has been the core constituent of the brand of politics the Sharifs have introduced and practised in the country. There was corruption in politics even before they entered the arena, but it was with their induction that money was introduced as a dominant factor and politics was reduced to a trade of buying and selling. Human beings became the commodities that the Sharifs traded in. In their quest for the top, they were able to dismantle every resistance they encountered with the power of their illicit billions.

But tragedy stalks in its own ways. Whenever he got the coveted office, and that was more often than any of his political adversaries, he remained uncomfortable because the fear of the fraudulent tactics he had used to get there in the first place kept reminding him that someone else could do it even better. After all, in this morbid venture, he had left behind a trail of sickness which did not entail any shred of competence and integrity. It was all about a commodity that anyone could get hold of by using the same lurid tactics that the Sharif clan had employed.

So, he remained afraid of his political opponents whom he bribed profusely both with money and positions in the government; he remained afraid of the military chiefs with whom his petty and demeaning tricks did not work; he remained afraid of the judges whom he subjugated through the din of coins and the use of brute physical assault, and he remained afraid of the institutions which he packed with paid cronies completely denuded of character and integrity. So, in spite of the fact that apparently, everything had been taken care of and there was no challenge to deny the Sharifs the opportunity of hoisting a family fiefdom in the garb of democracy, this fear syndrome kept lurking within their minds. They were hostage to this fear and, thus, prone to becoming more dictatorial, more fascistic.

Adversity has its own dynamics and its own manifestations. It does not always follow the pattern scribbled by the conspirator. It draws its own lines and traces its own paths which may be at variance with those desired by the authors. That is what was to befall the Sharifs in the end, driving them into a stupor they have still not been able to recover from. Crime always catches up with the perpetrator. They became the victims of their own deception which they had practised in gleeful abundance upon others. It all came back to haunt them.

The Sharifs’ dilemma is that they are unwilling to believe that their days in power are well nigh over because of untangling of the web of deceit they had woven and the rabid tactics they had employed to assault the state, its institutions and strategic stakes. That reflected an absolute bankruptcy of intellect. In the present times, they remain sickeningly infatuated with getting the levers of power back in their control. Having slipped miles away from that prospect, the Sharifs can’t rest with this bitter truth and are still fighting it with all the wrong tools they can conceivably get hold of.

The problem is that evil minds would always resort to evil tactics to secure their objectives. This is what the Sharifs have been doing through their tenures in power, and since their oyster. In assaulting the state and its institutions with indescribable venom and hatred, they have as good as burnt their boats. The journey back to the top, if such a path can still be conceived, is strewn with insurmountable impediments which are mostly of their own making. They have virtually ousted themselves from contention.

The fear that I have is that this litany of deceit and deception which they have so artfully and so remorselessly practised should not become a norm in politics. As a society, we need to grow away from this scourge. This would be a monumental undertaking.

Raoof Hasan
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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