By Dr. Haider Mehdi 

I ask myself a very simple, uncomplicated and morally relevant question: Who is a more patriotic Pakistani? A Pakistani-born national who holds dual-nationality, resides overseas and has, in the last two decades, remitted an enormous amount of hard-earned money back to his/her native land, makes expensive air trips every year to visit his/her birthplace and emotionally remains loyal to his/her cultural affiliations and values by promoting the Pakistani community in his/her adopted country?  Or a Pakistani who lives in Pakistan, embezzles remitted money, violates national culture, indulges in corruption, money-laundering, tax-evasion and is involved in multiple acts of moral and illegal conduct?

The ultimate irony, the most warped paradox of the contemporary sham of “muk-muka” democracy in Pakistan is that the political discourse of the entire incumbent political leadership is focused on the destruction of the democratic norms, values and conventions that they claim to be saving.  Such public deceit, massive exploitation and violation of the public mandate is unprecedented in the history of this nation.  Non-issues, such as the dual-nationality debate, are at the forefront while the matters that are certainly malignant to the core principles and practices of parliamentary democracy are held in the background and completely ignored.

Consider for example the following: the sitting president of the country accepts a billions-of- rupees gift in the shape of an expensive residential estate from a businessman in a metropolis and operates his party’s political campaign from the said sight: A clear legal and moral-ethical violation of the “conflict of interest” code of conduct in parliamentary democracy – and yet, the main opposition party’s leadership does not even raise an objection.  It does not table a vote of no confidence against the president in the National Assembly. The legislators, supposedly public representatives, do not demand the president’s resignation on account of such a blatant breach of an important and fundamental norm of democratic governance.  The justification offered by the opposition leadership and the national legislators for this kind of unconstitutional and morally bankrupt political discourse is that they do not wish to derail the nascent democracy. What baloney! What a shame!

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Baluchistan, the entire province, is burning in hellfire – dissident political activists are disappearing in scores on a daily basis.  The Hazara community is massacred mercilessly and brutally – their dead mourned but unburied, and yet the incumbent provincial and federal government leadership does not seem to accept the responsibility of such grave mismanagement of national affairs. There are no resignations, no reprimands, no demands by the opposition in the central legislature for the removal of the said political administration.   Our democracy-loving leadership claims that their political behavior is in the interest of saving the nascent democracy in the country.

The fact of the matter is that in a true democracy, even the death of a single citizen caused by the political regime’s inefficiency and lack of security and safety for people’s lives and property is enough reason for an elected government to resign collectively – or at least for the responsible cabinet minister to exit voluntarily.

Here in this country of the pious and honorable, common citizens experience “holocausts” and “Karbalas” on a daily basis. American drones reign lethal fire from the sky at dawn and in the middle of the dark night, killing innocent men and women – their children living in fear and terror; suicide bombers blowing themselves up amidst crowded market places spilling human body parts and blood everywhere.  Ask the Hazara community what this democracy has given to their community.  Ask the victims of drone attacks what it means to lose an entire family. And yet, our entire leadership of a “muk-muka” democracy is singularly focused on saving the nascent democracy.

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Is it not ironic that all of the traditional political leadership has just woken up to realize, after a long 5 years, to initiate peace talks with the insurgent forces?  How much more apathy of this “muk-muka” democracy, hell-bent on saving this sham, manipulative , willfully and knowingly organized violence against the entire Pakistani society can be tolerated? What kind of democracy is this and what democracy do they claim to be saving?

Even more sad and ironic is the predicament that seemingly all of the electronic media, save a couple of TV anchors, and all of the traditional leadership have decided to turn a non-issue into a major national debate and paradox – the questions regarding a Pakistani’s dual nationality, his/her loyalty to the nation, his/her legal and constitutional rights and obligations, and his/her inherent, non-revocable claims as a native citizen of this country.  Recent Supreme Court comments during a hearing on Dr. Qadri’s petition on the composition and reorganization of Pakistan’s Election Commission has added fuel to the fire. The fact of the matter is simple: a dual-nationality holder Pakistani is entitled to all rights reserved for all native-born citizens, except where the constitution specifically constrains or demands a certain legal course of action.

Then the question is:  Why such an enraged political-media debate on this issue? The answer is simple: Dr. Qadri’s political doctrine, his abrupt entry into political activism and his emerging standing as a political phenomenon (similar to Imran Khan’s tsunami) has challenged the entire present corrupt system, its traditional leadership, its “farsooda” political culture and has threatened the forces of political status quo and the incumbent ruling elite’s mantra of saving the nascent democracy in Pakistan.

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Hence, the debate on the dual-nationality issue is a pretext to launch an assault on the credibility of those who have finally decided to challenge and bring unqualified, ill-intentioned, incompetent, inefficient, and selfish, arrogant and ignorant politicians with vested interests to task.  That is the crux of the debate on dual-nationality, and unfortunately a large segment of electronic media has chosen to expand this meaningless and absurd discussion to the center stage of national politics.

Added to this predicament is a recently emerging dilemma in Pakistan: a national trend to organize the entire society on a purely legalistic framework.  Indeed, it is good that everyone is treated equally before the law.  However, in civilized societies, not every problem is resolved by or referred to a court of law.  People take moral-ethical responsibility for their conduct.  They make sound and fair judgments based on moral-ethical developments.  They minimize the gaps in a conflict situation and they make mature, rational and common-sense decisions in the affairs of their lives and community living.

The issue of dual-nationality is simple. It does not need a judicial review or an extensive media trial.

It is a matter of applying simple rationality – an acceptance of its moral-ethical obligations by the state – and a matter of pure simple judgment by the common citizens and people at large!!

There is nothing more to it!!