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- The ‘Feudal democracy brigade’ is causing the greatest damage to this country
- Middle and poor classes of Pakistanis are hardest hit
By SHAMS Z. ABBAS
Saturday, 18 September, 2010.
Ordinary Pakistanis welcomed democracy because they were promised safety, security and economic wellbeing. The reality is that whatever little they have is being taken away by rising inflation and tyrannical governance.
The state of the country is now a subject of profound worry and deep apprehension. The middle and poor classes are particularly hard hit and it is in these classes that the number of suicides has increased manifold. People feel extremely insecure.
The ‘Feudal democracy brigade’ is causing the greatest damage to this country by continuously masking failures and faulty performance. By blaming the media and past military rule, they succeed in diverting attention. Complaints against the persons in power and their machinations are multiplying. These persons are willfully flouting all accepted norms of conduct. People are losing faith in the system. This does not augur well for national integration. Demands are widespread, that these persons should be held accountable. Deep anger against the system is mounting.
Should we not question them and their acts? Why should institutional meltdown be tolerated?
Is a system which is not functioning more important or the type of the system itself?
In a normal democratic system, it is the institutions that are supposed to play their part to correct deviant actions.
Other than the judiciary, are the civil institutions effective enough and are they playing their part? The courts authority is also being challenged. Are the courts being respected? Is NAB being allowed to function? Are the Assemblies holding those who are plundering accountable? Is there a viable opposition? Why are the protests of the people aired in the media not given attention for corrective action? Why are steps not taken to correct it? This is an enigma. Very questionable actions of the leaders are being reported but no action taken to correct or reverse them. The complaints of corruption are not even being refuted for any misreporting or wrong understanding.
The matters associated with the Head of the State need no elaboration and are highly embarrassing. A lawyer who was in the vanguard of the so called ‘democracy’ movement is now the strongest defender of corruption cases through the Law of Immunity. The immunity being demanded, in this specific case, is as bad as the NRO itself. To add to this the people who form part of the President’s team are highly controversial.
The Law Minister, Babar Awan (and other well known lawyers) allegedly extorted massive fees from the accused of Punjab Bank. None of them have been questioned by the legal fraternity. Why are the fees charged by these lawyers, part of which was alleged to be for ‘court fixing’, not being questioned by NAB?
The Fake Degrees scandal and its management by Prime Minister is unthinkable. It is unparalleled in our history. No ruler has ever defended falsehood as has been done in this case.
Can a Prime Minister anywhere in the world write off his own loan? By reportedly writing off his wife’s (The PM’s) loan of PKR 30,000,000 [thirty million rupees] he has created the most unprecedented example of misuse of power. We all seem to be unperturbed. He paid a paltry Rs. 85,000 to the State as income tax. The greater worry is that his supporters and the opposition parties have winked at it and allowed it to happen.
This has happened because NAB has been completely defanged. It is now an institution not for prosecution but for the defense of the corrupt in the Government.
The worst kind of media tyranny and persecution of journalists is taking place now as never before. Umar Cheema’s persecution is a blow to freedom of the Press.
This surpasses the torture of Najam Sethi by the police and the Intelligence Bureau during Nawaz Sharif’s tenure. It may be recalled that he was rescued and saved by Gen. Musharraf.
On the subject of foreign aid, never ever has the country been mistrusted as now. To be fair, every Military Government is trusted and given funds.
To promote Higher Education, a beautiful organization in the shape of the HEC was created. Its budget of Rs. 22 Billion has been reduced to 11 billion. What is happening to it now is a matter of shame.
The Courts must hear all the relevant corruption cases. Otherwise, the bribes taken by politicians in the Mehran Gate scandal and the Swiss cases will very soon become history. Massive corruption will thus be legalized.
The Steel mill deal was scrapped on technical grounds by the Supreme Court. Thereafter the Country has suffered a 30 Billion loss due to pilferage and leakage till date. Are we going to wait and let the sharks wipe off everything?
Fortunately, the appointment by the Prime Minister of a convict and semi literate Adnan Khawaja as MD of OGDC has been taken notice of, by the Supreme Court.
Complacence seems to have crept in comprehensively. The objectives of the ‘Rule of Law’ movement are not anywhere near implementation. This movement brought in place the present set up which is so highly corrupt that many of its actions are akin to broad daylight robberies. Instead of rule of law the people are at the receiving end of the most intense misery because of a steep rise in prices in a period of two and a half years.
There was a lot of hype about the corruption in the award of contracts of the Rental Power plants. The Asian Development Bank objected to the deal. The then Finance Minister raised objections, the civil society protested but the project is going ahead. The consequent rise in electricity bills has destroyed the middle class. The numbers stealing electricity has gone up manifold. Those caught are let off.
The economy is in a state of virtual collapse. Yet we have approved a Monument for Benazir, the cost of which is Rs 1 Billion. There are so many others for whom monuments need to be built. Why for the spouse of the President. This is notwithstanding the fact that Pakistan does not have the money for flood relief and massive loans are being approved from the IMF, which will break the back of all of us, eventually. The endless list necessitates that the state of the collapse must be averted.
The Army as an Institution of national integration and protection of the homeland’s sovereignty has always rescued the country in crises. The people’s voice is being reflected in the media day in and day out.
All institutions must play their legitimate role in aid of the country without imposition of Martial Law.
Solutions being articulated by the civil society through the media to overcome the state of anarchy need to be given their due consideration.
Shams Z Abbas,
18 September 2010.
Mr. Abbas is a Pakistani commentator based in Lahore. Reach him at
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