By Dr Haider Mehdi

Ali Baba with his sharp knife

“Our lies reveal as much about us as our truths,” wrote J. M. Coetzee, winner of the Noble Prize for Literature.  This is a pretty accurate observation about understanding human psychology, intrinsic psyche and implicit behavior.

But, first let me change the title of this article a little bit in the interest of fairness: Ali Baba and the 342 thieves…more or less!!

As a nation, we are compelled to accept the stark fact staring us in our faces that the entire contemporary political leadership at the helm of national affairs is virtually comprised of sinister personalities, skilled deceivers and seasoned intriguers. They lack integrity, wholesomeness, completeness, intellect, vision, judgment, reason, rationality, perception, observation and above all, personal and political “credibility.” “Credibility” in itself, as a political phenomenon, is a fundamental requirement in a democratic structure; it is not an abstract notion for the management of politics.

In essence, the tale of the present ruling “junta” in Pakistan is disappointing and tragic.  The incumbent leadership and parliament are hell-bent on exploiting the entire nation and will most certainly exploit it further. Post Islamic (socio-moral bankruptcy), post historical (no appreciation of historical forces and processes), post literate (many with fake educational credentials and degrees), they might as well have been hatched from eggs yesterday.  They do not act on principles but on their deep-rooted selfish impulses –  a madness not of minds but of collective hearts – a crime of “passion” and “intent” against this nation.

Note that with the publication of a government report on its two-year performance entitled “Promise Policy Performance,” we are being asked not to condemn these reckless leaders and impetuous legislators with whom there seems to be something constitutionally wrong. On the contrary, the nation is being asked to understand, sympathize, appreciate and support this leadership in their unwise and counter-productive political management of this country. But naturally, there is a limit to understanding – a breaking point of sympathy and only so much can be tolerated of this continuing political charade and monstrosity. Eventually, this slyly-invented and institutionalized political “mafia” will have to be nationally condemned to oblivion. They (the entire leadership) themselves are creating conditions for ultimate anarchy in the country.

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It was George Bush’s former Assistant Secretary of State who purportedly said that the US will bomb Pakistan back “to the Stone Age.” They did not and could not do it even if they wanted to. However, the present political leadership in Pakistan has accomplished what was only an American verbal threat: We have in actuality been driven back to “the Stone Age.” Haven’t we?

A depressed, aging Pakistani, in a casual conversation recently, compared the present state of affairs in the country to the conditions that prevail in a graveyard – or rather in a grave: in a state of lifelessness. He said that in a grave there is absolute darkness, no food, no air, no energy, no motion, just suffocation, total deprivation and a complete annihilation of human life. “Isn’t the present day Pakistan the graveyard of 170 million people?” he asked.

Notwithstanding the tall claims made by the government in its report “Promise Policy Performance,” the ground realities are that this country has never had such dismal and utterly chaotic political-economic conditions as they have now – obviously, because of the political mismanagement of the present leadership. There is a total lack of efficacious political-economic planning.  There is an unprecedented level of corruption at the top hierarchy of the government. There is lawlessness. There is no security of human life and prosperity. Prices of daily consumables are skyrocketing. There is no petrol, gas, power. Unemployment is rampant. Education is expensive. Medical aid is beyond the reach of common people. And now the trade and commerce of shops, markets, and even cinemas will stop at 8 p.m.. Streetlights will be partially turned off (as a government strategy to deal with power shortages), turning urban life into a graveyard-like existence, most likely resulting in a massive increase in nighttime street crime, robberies, rapes and God knows what else. So much for this government’s self-congratulated brilliant performance. (And we already know that the present leadership has virtually squandered Pakistan’s sovereignty to US dictates.)  The question is: Where will we go from here?

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This leadership’s problematics are not only of governance and political management. It also suffers from democratic ailments. It has a socio-political-philosophical disorientation. It is suffering from phobic disorders. It is guilty of constitutional lapses aimed at selective distortion and dissonance. This entire leadership has distinguished itself as a total mess!

Take for example, the following: A noted and distinguished stalwart of the PML-N (the main opposition party in the parliament) is reported to have said passionately “jo koi parliament-se takarai ga ussay pash pash kar daingay”  (any one or any state institution that clashes with the parliament will be smashed beyond recognition). The PML-N “Jayala” was commenting in favor of parliament as the ultimate sovereign body above all other state institutions. Dismal and inaccurate as this point of view is, consider what the Prime Minister had to say on the floor of the national assembly on the subject: The national assembly and the senate together are the supreme authority in the land. The supremacy of the parliament cannot be questioned and is ultimate above all other state institutions.

Let me ask the PM and the PML-N “Jayala” a simple hypothetical question: Suppose the sitting parliament is so impressed by the brilliant political performance of the President and the Prime Minister that it votes the President and the Prime Minister for life terms in their respective offices. Am I to understand that since the parliament votes as such, this act of the national legislative body (that you hold supreme and ultimate) cannot be challenged in any forum by anyone – a citizen, a political party, a lawyer, the civil society, etc.?

For your kind information, PM and the PML-N “Jayala,” the facts are quite the contrary.  It is not a difficult or complicated riddle: the parliament can legislate whatever it wishes, but it is the Supreme Court that has the final and ultimate authority to what is legally and constitutionally termed as “Judicial Review.” It simply means that all parliamentary legislation must be in accordance with the constitutional provisions.  And the only state institution that decides on these matters of constitutionality and legality is the Supreme Court. Period. Do you get it, Mr. Prime Minister? That is how civilized democracies work.

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The moral-political treachery of the entire present political leadership in Pakistan is horrifying. It is led by impulses rather than principles.  For comparitive purposes, consider the following: In India, Shashi Tharoor (a person with international celebrity status and reputation) was asked by the Indian Prime Minister to resign on the grounds of alleged misuse of office for monetary gains. Tharoor resigned instantly. In Britain, both the Labour and Torries are facing a possible voters revolt because of the parliamentary expense scandals that hit both parties hard. The voters are demanding absolute accountability of their elected representatives – morally, financially, legally, personally and collectively.   Ironically, in today’s Pakistan, the parliament has passed legislation through the 18th amendment to let anyone guilty or alleged to have misappropriated national resources and wealth walk free in due course of time. As for accountability, none exists. In fact, many in the ruling incumbent regime have been rewarded, in spite of allegations of corruption, misappropriation of national wealth and even straightforward criminal indictments.

Pakistan’s future existence is tied up with the end of politics as we know it today!

The faster “our elected dictatorship” goes into total oblivion, the better!

This nation can not afford Ali Baba and 342 thieves (more or less) any more!

React! Revolt! Put an end to this national adversity!

The writer is an academic, political analyst and conflict resolution expert. Dr Mehdi is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.

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