- A life-threatening scourge that needs multi-faceted remedy
“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time, they create for themselves a legal system that authorises it and a moral code that glorifies it”.
– Frederic Bastiat
Looking around, one gathers an intensifying feeling of getting drowned in the rising crescendo in defence of corruption and the vile machinations employed for indulgence, even glorifying the acts and the perpetrators of the crime. Mind-boggling it may be but, more importantly, it is patently belittling to see that a bunch of people are so intoxicated by their association with those who have mercilessly plundered the state that they would repudiate solid evidence now available of their crimes and continue stonewalling and advocating a defence narrative that is contrary to the dictates of law and benchmarks of honourable human conduct.
Does this reflect insensitivity to what has been happening, or complicity in crime, or an attempt at securing their own future in the company of these looters who also have a reputation of being generous with doling out their silver coins? It could be one of these, or a combination of some or all that promises lucrative returns for investment made through the spoken and written word. That’s how and why a battalion of corruption-apologists has emerged in the society, spreading a false and misleading narrative by broadcasting prime-time programmes and writing op-ed pieces in some publications. This, of course, is in aid and abetment of the political cronies who are lined up, day and night, defending the pillage of their leaders who are now either incarcerated or undergoing investigation for their alleged misdeeds.
The question that rattles is that how a society which, not long ago, was extremely sensitive to moral and social values and which had a strong tradition of ostracising those who were suspected of indulging in criminal activities, has been transformed into becoming one which shows an abhorrent level of vulnerability to crime and its perpetrators and which even allows such people to be glorified for their indulgences?
While there may be multiple other reasons for the malaise having set in including belittling impoverishment of an increasing number of families and individuals, the ever-rising index of radicalisation and religiosity, the decreasing number of educational seats and the declining standards of what is taught there and the woeful inefficiency that has set in encompassing various facets of how the society and the government work, there is one factor that stands paramount. It is the systematic criminalisation of politics enacted through induction of two families into the political domain: the Sharifs and the Bhutto/Zardaris. I am not saying that others may not be responsible for the mess also, but the influence of these two families in this morbid process of criminalisation is unsurpassable when it comes to assessing the damage done to the society and the abominable manner in which the state was dragged in to cover up for their crimes during the past decade.
It was George Orwell who said that “a people who elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices”. That sits at the very top of this malaise which has caught currency in the last few decades through the induction of corrupt oligarchies in the echelons of power
But, then, it is not their fault alone. The institutions which facilitated the path of these families into politics and the people who voted them into power through a predominantly manipulated process are equally to blame. They were helped to ascend the helm of power so often that they came to virtually ‘own’ and ‘control’ every facet of the state and the government down to the selection of the office boys. The chief ministers were directly involved in the process to secure these appointments not on the basis of the ability and competence of the candidates, but on account of their personal loyalty alone.
With succeeding governments having invested nothing in improving the stock of the people who remained predominantly marginalised and forever dependent on the booty dished out by the ruling mafias, it is thus that every aspect of governance was rendered personalised, exclusively working to satiate the increasing greed of the two family oligarchies who were taking turns at denuding the state in an evil, pre-determined manner.
In doing so, they created a large beneficiary group which prospered on account of the dole-outs of the patron barons. As the bank accounts of the glib ones ballooned, their spoken and written words became ever more servile, ever more subservient to advancing the cause of their masters. The spread of this web of corruption was aided and abetted by that other part of the beneficiary group whom we generally refer to as the bureaucracy. Instead of serving the cause of the state, they became partners with the ruling families in the business of instilling and expanding the narrative of corruption through all layers of the government. Exploiting the intellectual susceptibilities of the basest varieties, this spectre was accorded currency by the ones with a glib tongue. This is the hemlock that has been fed to the people through decades beginning the day members of these criminal families entered the domain of politics, so much so that it is now embedded deep into the fabric of the society.
In the process, corruption is sanctified and crime glorified. Members of the beneficiary groups sit every evening in the sanctified studios delivering high-pitched lectures in morality, laced with venomous intent that these corrupt families, somehow, may chisel their way back into the annals of power so that the flow of their pieces of silver would continue unabated. With the prospect becoming more improbable, the tone and tenor of their spoken and written word become more guttural, more venomous.
But, a change is also visible. The people of the country are showing phenomenal awareness about the way the state has been ravaged in these past decades. This has been patently visible through the lack of protest at the conviction of the elder Sharif and, more recently, the arrest of the PPP don, his sister and the son of the younger Sharif. In addition to the steps that the relevant institutions of the state are obliged to taking to curb the menace of corruption, it is the people who can eliminate it from its roots by ensuring that members of these political groups, and others like them, are never again returned to power.
The setting up of a commission to look into the incidence of corruption in the past decade is a praiseworthy step not from the perspective of punishing the perpetrators alone, but further enhancing the sensitisation among the people so that they could be more careful in the choice of their leaders.
It was George Orwell who said that “a people who elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices”. That sits at the very top of this malaise which has caught currency in the last few decades through the induction of corrupt oligarchies in the echelons of power. Being the ultimate arbiters of the fate of the country, it is the people who can ensure that they stay out and are never again given the chance of playing with the fate of the state. By the power vested in them, they should move in to have a say in the emerging paradigm.