Crass politics

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  • Why would NAB act with a mala fide intent is a million dollar question
Democracy as Pakistan’s system of governance was envisioned by the founding father who had an unswerving belief that it was the only system through which the country could achieve the objectives of independence and win a respectable place in the comity of nations. But unfortunately even after 70 years of independence democratic dispensation as envisioned by Jinnah remains an elusive dream. While the intellectuals and political analysts often tend to blame the military dictators for derailing democracy and not allowing it to take root in the country, they conveniently neglect the fact that our politicians who formed representative governments interspersing the military rules and those in the opposition never made sincere efforts for strengthening democracy and bringing systemic reforms that were needed to sustain it.  They have placed their own narrow political interests above the national interests and regrettably focused their energies on politics of vendetta which has consigned the country to an unending political stability. The crass politics of nineties bears testimony to this sad state of affairs. Another hallmark of the successive civilian set ups has been indulgence in reckless corruption.
First a few words about political parties and their role in a democratic system. In a democratic dispensation, political parties are the entities that articulate public opinion on national issues, educate people on matters related to governance raising political conscious of the masses, provide political stability in the country, recruit and groom future leaders and formulate public policies. By competing in the elections they provide the public with choices in governance. The presence of political parties, therefore, is indispensable for a representative system of governance called democracy. The party that wins the franchise of the people forms the government and those with a lesser mandate adopt the role of the opposition, whose basis function is to act as a watch-dog against the government and hold it accountable for any indiscretion or deviation from its given programme or any action perceived to be inimical to the national interests. Thus the government and the opposition in a democratic entity are two sides of the same coin wedded to the cause of promoting well being of the people and serving the national interests with honesty of purpose.
Judged on the foregoing touchstone in regards to the role of the political parties and political leaders in a democracy, the situation in our country has been absolutely dismal. The politicians refuse to learn from their past follies. The gate-crashing of Imran Khan into the corridors of power as a result of 2018 elections, which many saw as a whiff of fresh air and a symbol of change, has turned into a sour dream. Politics of vendetta is being pursued with increased intensity to target, denigrate and malign the leaders of the two big political parties in the name of sham accountability. The prime minister and his ministers are continuously rubbing in the notion of the entire political opposition being corrupt without any corruption having been established in the court of law and predicting the incarceration of certain leaders by name. And it has been happening the way they have been predicting. The question is how they know in advance which leader is going to be arrested unless they are in league with the prosecuting agency.
No one in his right mind can take issue with across the board accountability with sincerity of purpose
It is perhaps pertinent to point out that the Lahore Court while granting bail to the directors of the Punjab Saaf Pani Company who were arrested just before the 2018 elections including Engineer Qamrul Islam who was the PML-N candidate for one NA and two PA seats in the Rawalpindi district, has ruled that NAB acted with mala fide intent and it has found no evidence of corruption in the award of contract for installation of water plants in the Bahawalpur district. Why would NAB act with a mala fide intent is a million dollar question.  Without speculating on whose behalf NAB acted the way it did and continues to act, one thing stands established that it was very much part of the victimisation of leaders of the opposition parties. The arrest of Aleem Khan in the opinion of political analysts is a balancing act and it was also a ploy to get a clean chit for him from NAB.
No one in his right mind can take issue with across the board accountability with sincerity of purpose as it is an indispensable ingredient of good governance. However the sordid reality of our politics is that politicians on both sides have myriad of skeletons in their cupboards and they can aptly be dubbed as carpet-baggers who focus on building their own fortunes through corrupt practices misusing their position of authority. There is no possibility of ever putting in place a credible mechanism of accountability without changing the prevalent system of governance which has inbuilt avenues of corruption, graft and entitlement.
Even if for a moment one concedes that Imran Khan sincerely wants to change the system of governance and eliminate corruption from the country, he cannot do it single handedly in view of the political ground realities. The electables who jumped on his bandwagon and the traditional fortune hunters like Sheikh Rasheed and many others who have been the beneficiaries of the corrupt system of governance and joined his party in the hope of consolidating their gains would never allow him to go ahead with the reforms which he so fondly pledges to carry out from every convenient roof-top. That lobby is so strong that even a leader like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and the military dictators who had plenipotentiary powers to effect those changes failed to break their power. Imran also needs to remember that when a crunch time comes they invariably have been black-mailing the government in the game of numbers.
The confrontation with the opposition parties would create an ambience of political instability in the country and in that event it could also undermine the grandiose plans that Imran wants to implement to lift the economic profile of the country.
The reality is that there can be no worthwhile change in the system of governance, progress towards eradication of corruption and changing the fortunes of the masses through a sustained process of development. The better course for PTI government would be to recede from the confrontation mode with the opposition parties and seek their cooperation in bringing systemic changes required for ushering in an era of good governance and plugging the avenues of corruption. Remaining bogged down in the past and repeating the same mistakes would indeed be insanity in the words of Einstein. Imran should not allow the political freeloaders to mislead him.