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Leader-Shedding, Not Loadshedding

A friend of mine who chooses to remain un-named forwarded an SMS message presently roaming the ether, to quote “A question in the minds of every Pakistani to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, is your task only to give sermons to the public? Why has judgment not come in any high profile cases? Steel Mills, PIA, Railways, HBL, BoP cases, NRO, Memogate, Mehrangate, missing persons, LPG, NLC, Babar Contempt, Gilani contempt, Shahbaz Sharif cases, Haj scandal, Karachi killings etc? All cases are pending for unknown reasons! The nation is losing confidence in the judiciary. “Justice delayed is justice” denied, is that right?”

The aforementioned SMS is factually incorrect, the Supreme Court has given judgment in most of the cases, both comprehensive and unambiguous in terms of substance and content. And without any question one is proud of these judgments! What is agitating the public psyche is that the implementation of those judgments is less than satisfactory. The present government has successfully filibustered and prevaricated in frustrating the Supreme Court’s diktat. As a result, both their feared collossus, the superior judiciary and the Army, are rapidly losing their credibility where it counts most, in the perception of both the intelligentsia and the masses.

Will anything ever happen to “Raja Rental”, aka Pervez Ashraf? NAB seems to have put some luminaries on ECL more for public consumption and to muddy the waters, clubbing those clearly innocent with the absolutely guilty, dragging into the process outstanding citizens and entrepreneurs like Shaukat Tareen. Can anyone ever believe that this outstanding Pakistani, who gave us the nearly impossible NFC award, has anything to do with the RPP malfeasance? It is Shaukat Tareen who resisted the RPP idea tooth and nail.

The PM’s entire caboodle, “Sahib, Bibi, Betay aur Ghulam” have been “mentioned in dispatches” in different cases of malfeasance and outright corruption. Vocal (but politically adrift) Awami Muslim League leader Shaikh Rashid says, “The rulers have made a mockery of court verdicts, such examples were never seen in the past. The Prime Minister is a “habitual criminal” as he has spent jail terms in the past and once again ready to go for another”, unquote. Instead of being nervous or contrite at being possibly convicted for contempt of court, Gilani revels in being contemptuously defiant, indeed even “ecstatic” (pun intended) about his future.

The Supreme Court’s failure to enforce their judgments reminds one of Joseph Stalin’s scornful query when told about the Pope’s anger because of the ruthless Stalinist suppression of dissent within Russia, “how many divisions does the Pope have?” While the Supreme Court should be able call on all the institutions of the State, including the instrument of last resort the Armed Forces, to its aid in implementing their judgment, for whatever reason the khakis have been rendered “deaf, dumb and blind” to the ongoing wholesale loot and plunder. Was there a message conveyed to the Supreme Court not to expect any joy under Article 190? How many divisions did the Chief Justice possess when he defied Gen Pervez Musharraf, who incidentally had quite a few?

The Chief Justice’s ouster force-multiplied the frustrations of the common man alongwith the perceived corruption of the govt, Mian Nawaz Sharif seized the moment to break the shackles imposed on democracy in March 2009 but the “Long March” sputtered to an end at Gujranwala because of the famous telephone call from Kayani to Mian Sahib. What actually transpired remains a matter of conjecture (Attila the Hun and Pope Leo I ?)! The Army have only themselves to blame for their present predicament as far as image is concerned, if they thought they would get gratitude for not allowing the PPP-led govt to be toppled in March 2009 they were sadly mistaken, there is enough in the Memo scandal to indicate that our Constitutional rulers have made common cause with our detractors in the whole world. The rank and file in uniform are paying a horrible price to sustain the perversion that goes in the name of democracy, Kayani’s conscience must cope those men he sends to their deaths in fighting counter-insurgency while the rulers he salutes revel in their corrupt luxury, all in the sham and hypocrisy of upholding our Constitution.

MIT Economist Daron Acemoglu and Harvard political scientist James A Robinson state in “Why Nations Fail” that “nations thrive when they develop “inclusive” political and economic institutions, and they fail when those institutions become “extractive” and concentrate power and opportunity in the hands of only a few. Commenting on the book, Thomas L. Friedman in a recent article argues that “the key difference between countries is “institutions”, unfortunately the institutions the govt is supposed to preserve have instead been systematically attacked to purposely erode the ability and the credibility of these institutions. Acemoglu and Robinson say, “Inclusive economic institutions are more conducive to economic growth than extractive economic institutions that are structured to extract resources from the many by the few. Inclusive economic institutions, are in turn supported by, and support, inclusive political institutions, which distribute political power widely in a pluralistic manner and are able to achieve some amount of political centralization so as to establish law and order, the foundations of secure property rights, and an inclusive market economy. Conversely, extractive political institutions that concentrate power in the hands of a few reinforce extractive economic institutions to hold power”, unquote. In utter contrast to the rest of the world feudalism has actually flourished and expanded in Pakistan after the British left, whoever says democracy can survive in a feudal system is a hypocrite.

Hopefully emerging leaders like Imran Khan should have learnt lessons from our horrible state of political and economic affairs, “You can’t get your economics right if you don’t get your politics right”. The many layers of Local Government were not conducive for either good governance and/or the effective distribution of funds. Only the actual users can decide the priority of their basic needs of education, medical facilities, water, sewerage, etc. One believes Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf is working on a revolutionary modus operandi to ensure money meant for development is not siphoned off by intermediaries, the community directly receives funds to themselves build the necessary infra-structure. Development money will then be a force-multiplier to strengthen democracy at the grassroots level.

During this regime’s incumbency, Pakistan’s crisis have multiplied and deepened manifold and on many fronts. Can the rule of law prevail when the Chief Executive of the State defies it at will, and is contemptuous about his defiance? While the Army has been sacrificing their young men in Swat, FATA and countless other places, the civilian casualties in Balochistan, Gilgit, Karachi, etc are frequently in the news for all the wrong reasons. As fuel prices keep increasing and electricity gets scarcer (or non-existent), the summer will become longer and hotter, in all senses of the word. If the Supreme Court fails to act, the answer to salvation for the country’s problems will move to the streets of Pakistan. This will force the army to act, with the Supreme Court’s request under Article 190 or without it.

What this country really needs is leader-shedding, not loadshedding!

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