Coming apart

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The venom spewed by the firebrand Zulfiqar Mirza about the MQM and its supreme leader may be dot on: “If Afaq Ahmad (MQM-Haqiqi leader) is a criminal, an extortionist and a bad person, and if he has robbed mothers of their children, then Altaf Hussain is a 100-times bigger criminal who has also robbed mothers of their children”. He dubbed Afaq Ahmad as the real leader of the Muhajir nation and called upon the people of Karachi and Hyderabad to rise and rid themselves of these “damned ones”. (Under immense pressure, he has since tendered an apology.)

But, he stopped short of stating the truth about his own leader which would only have been fair. The task was promptly undertaken by the Altaf lieutenants who called President Zardari “Mr 10 %” against whom there were outstanding cases in the national and the international courts. They also accused the PPP for being responsible for the dismemberment of the country.

Well, the honeymoon has finally turned sour and the invectives freely flowing around tell the sordid story of a liaison that was engineered to serve the nefarious cause of perpetuating the system and its attendant. At a different level, the venomous spectacle also tells the true character of this gang of operatives going around as political leaders who speak without pause of the virtues of ‘democracy’ and its endless ‘blessings’ for an impoverished people and their depleting prospects of survival.

Altaf Hussain owes an explanation to his constituency of ‘voters’, whom he addresses in endless soliloquies, about his credentials for continuing to be the leader of his faction of the party while living abroad with a non-Pakistani passport. Is it moral, legal and within the letter and spirit of the constitution that he unfailingly pledges to uphold? What keeps him abroad and why does he continue to perpetuate politics of fear resulting in scores of dead bodies that fall on a daily basis in the bye-lanes of Karachi? What about the criminal cases that he fled away from? Having remained an integral part of every corrupt dispensation, he is quick to chastise them the moment he steps aside only to rejoin after the list of his demands has been acceded to. Maybe, this time around, the trick has lost its usual bite and is not likely to deliver the desired results.

Now to the other partner in the equation – the one who rode the waves of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) to the top. He, too, has cases pending against him in national and international courts. He continues to occupy the seat of power vide the immunity clause in the constitution. So, technically, the moment he disembarks from his elevated seat, he should be arrested on a number of counts. Could any prospect be more demeaning than this where the sitting president may be consigned to the discomfort of a prison hole after his tenure is up? It is this commonality of backgrounds of the two leaders that endeared them to each other, and which may also become the reason for their falling apart.

Morality and rule of law are alien virtues to the protagonists of both these concoctions. While MQM has let lose its gangs on Karachi, the PPP stalwarts have learned the art of living in perpetual affront of the judiciary. Be it the NRO and the need for initiating consequent steps or a spate of mega corruption cases encompassing every conceivable state institution, the PPP leadership has failed to comply with the SC directives. So open and blatant is the defiance that, every day, there is the prospect of the apex court resorting to the extreme measures. Only the other day, while hearing the case regarding the NICL scam, the Chief Justice acknowledged the presence of clause 190 in the constitution, but said that he would prefer the system to continue rolling. I beg you Mr Chief Justice, you have been doing it too often and for a bit too long without achieving anything except helping a corrupt system become more corrupt. That is what has happened in the past and that is exactly what will continue to happen unless forcefully intervened.

I would like to remind the apex court that there is a plethora of critical cases awaiting final judgement. Instead of tackling the pendency, there are more cases being added to the list on a daily basis. The prerogative belongs to the court and one understands that the understated desire is honourable. But, there is an old saying that justice delayed is justice denied. We have gone far in that direction, and may already have reached the dead end. Have we left enough markings to trace our way back to a civilised way of life? After all, it is a bunch of hardened crooks that you are dealing with!

Far too much has gone wrong. This country is coming apart at the seams. The perpetual smell of death hanging over Karachi is only a sinister starter. Worse may be on its way to be spewed mercilessly on a hapless people through hundreds of thousands of sophisticated weapons that have been stored illegally in every corner of an unfortunate city by the gangs of thugs and criminals that have their patrons in the ruling elite of the province – indeed, of the country.

 

The writer is a political analyst. He can be reached at [email protected]