Denuded of pretensions, a country coming apart at the seams
I am at a loss for words. We seem to be living in an environment so utterly degenerate with humiliating revelations of just how one single individual, quite literally, purchased his way through to building a mammoth empire soaked and seeped in corruption and all its attendant debilitating manifestations. Worse still, instead of using the state machinery to put a stop to his devilish spree, the corrupt ruling mafia let him lose on the judiciary to bring infamy to the only credible and functional institution of the country.
The damaging whispering campaign had been going on for some time before the story finally unveiled for public consumption around June 3. It revolved around the alleged acceptance of hefty amounts and paid-trips by the Chief Justice’s son Arsalan ostensibly in exchange for trying to help Malik Riaz in his numerous cases pending before the Supreme Court. Contained in the accusation was also the confession that no such relief had so far been granted to him by the SC. The CJ was quick to take suo motu notice of the reports summoning the accuser and the accused to the court the next day which, by itself, was an epoch-making initiative in a country where, by standard tradition, such matters are buried deep without ever facing the prospect of even a rudimentary investigation. The matter has since been disposed off with the two-member bench of the SC instructing the attorney-general to “set the machinery of the state in motion so that all those who may have committed any illegal acts including Malik Riaz Hussain, Dr Arsalan and Salman Ali Khan are pursued and brought to book with the full force and rigour of the law”. Even more invigorating was the reiteration that the court had “trod only one path ahead of it – the path of the law and the constitution which is our only hope of preserving the gains of the unremitting struggle of the people against oppression and tyranny”.
But the case does not stop here as more damaging revelations continue to unleash on a hapless people traumatised both by the extent and the intensity of the corruption that has crept through all echelons of the society. While the names of the politicians, bureaucrats and generals who have been the recipients of the illicit largesse doled out by Malik Riaz remain a secret, infamous mention has been made of some leading media practitioners who have received huge benefits in cash and kind from the state tycoon. Even a sting-video has been leaked of how a couple of leading anchorpersons of a front-line television channel put together a pre-orchestrated interview of the tycoon to pour ridicule on the judiciary and to promote him as a benefactor of the country and the people. During the course of the interview, the prime minister’s elder son also called to speak first to one of the anchorpersons conducting the interview and later to Malik Riaz. This should leave little doubt as to who is patronising this nefarious campaign to dismantle the judiciary and bring disrepute to its honourable judges.
The moral fabric of the society lies in tatters with its most vociferous pontiffs reduced to moral paupers overnight. While the judiciary has handled the onslaught in a professional, just, brave and equitable manner, it has exposed other segments and institutions of the country to an unprecedented crisis beseeching them to play a role that befits their responsibilities and positions. Theoretically, it is only through a collective effort that the contours of a remedying struggle could take shape. If, on the other hand, we let this also pass like we have allowed so much to pass in the past, it would plunge the country into a state of paralysis from where it would be well nigh impossible to come out.
It is in challenging times like this one that an appeal to the collective conscience of the people becomes obligatory. When the executive bequeathed with the responsibility of guarding and strengthening state institutions becomes complicit in sinister designs to decimate them, such a reference becomes inescapable being the only remedy to bring some sanity back into the mainstream of governance. The question arises: who is left with enough moral integrity and courage to spearhead such a move? A harrowing thought as most of the institutions and functionaries of the state have been corrupted.
There are palpable indications that this decline would only accentuate with the passage of time. In fact, some of the doomsday pundits are not only predicting such an eventuality, they are urging its early landing to annul an historic aberration. With that being so, and with the political leaderships denuded of all their grandiose pretensions, it is only through a struggle at the grassroots level that the plunge could be arrested and a prospect cultivated for initiating the long and arduous battle to regain national moorings. Given the abominable quality of leadership, the lack of inherent ideals and dreams to nurture the state to some level of equilibrium and the paucity of courage, commitment and resolve through all tiers of the society, this appears to be an uphill task. Absent as they are, such qualities don’t evolve overnight. They are inherent in the way the people are. Economically enslaved and grossly underprivileged, their prime attention is focussed on personal survival with little time left to care about the morality or otherwise of their occupations and pursuits.
With political leaderships corrupted and complicit in moves to dismantle the state, with people consumed by their struggle for two morsels a day and with state institutions crumbling under the weight of their ingrained graft and inefficiency, there is little left by way of hope for a country showing increasing signs of coming apart at the seams.
The writer is a political analyst and a member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. He can be reached at [email protected]
Denuded of pretensions, a country coming apart at the seams