Rental or Dental, the system is Mental!
I felt humiliated as a cricket fan the day the Pakistan cricket team – under Wasim Akram – ‘handed’ the World Cup to Australia in 1999, at Lord’s. I felt ashamed when Maulana Fazlur Rehman was nominated as a candidate for the Prime Minister of Pakistan four years later. Then there was Asif Ali Zardari’s decision to run for the President of Pakistan which disgraced me without doubt. But no humiliation can top the latest reason for my embarrassment which is the election of Raja Pervez Ashraf as the Prime Minister of the ‘Islamic’ Republic of Pakistan.
If a secret poll is taken about the most hated Pakistani in the last 5 years, Raja Pervez Ashraf will win it by a mile. He is more hated than the President who nominated him, is more despised than both the cricket and hockey teams of the country combined, everyone knows that he is corrupt to the core! Yet he gets to be nominated as the ‘Puppet’ Prime Minister of a country that is war-torn, friend-less and unable to progress due to incompetent leaders and a weak infrastructure. He is known as Raja Rental because he was the mastermind behind the failed Rental Power Project that cost millions of taxpayers’ money. I believe Raja Pervez Ashraf’s nomination has more to do with mocking the Supreme Court than serving the people. It is the President’s way to tell the honorable court that he is Supreme in the country no matter what the court thinks.
But that’s not why I feel ashamed, embarrassed, humiliated and disgraced. I feel these degrading emotions because we, the Pakistani people, feel helpless in the face of such obvious villainy. Yes we can go to the concerts and listen to Imran Khan’s speech and feel proud as Pakistanis, we can buy petrol even if it crosses the 100-rupee barrier, we can accept anything that is thrown at us by the government, yet we can’t do anything that matters. Could any of us have stopped the election of Mr Zardari as the President, Raja Pervez Ashraf as the Prime Minister and former Attorney General Latif Khosa as the Governor of the biggest province in the country? No and that’s because we are powerless and easily to dominated.
The current affairs in Pakistan resemble the pre-Revolution in France more than 200 years ago. At that time the poor were oppressed and the rich had little to worry about. . And yet, why should the rich in Pakistan worry? The Cafeteria in the Parliament house provides them tea at less than Rs. 5, snacks at less than Rs. 20 and the complete package at less than Rs. 50! What I fail to understand is why we have a lavish Presidency, Parliament house and Prime Minister House – or for that matter an entire artificially made city as the Capital when most of the people live below the poverty line!
I don’t blame the leaders of the country … I blame the system that allowed Mr Zardari to become the President in the first place. It is the very system that allows corrupt individuals to govern, to pocket the profits they garner and to rob the very people they are supposed to serve. Had the system been perfect, these people would have been accountable for their deeds every day of the year rather than being subject to scrutiny just before the elections.
If there was a time for change, this is it. We need people to come out of their houses, out of the comforts of their drawing rooms, to change the system, not just the faces. Followers of Imran Khan (No one follows Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, get real!) feel that he can bring the change but I doubt it because he has lotays from both the Pakistan Muslim League and Pakistan People’s Party. Everyone knows how corrupt Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri is, yet they close their eyes and cover their ears when someone tells them about it. Had Shah Mehmood Qureshi been a great and patriotic leader, he would never have been a part of Pakistan People’s Party in the first place, yet he was for a long time. Therefore, I feel that until and unless we change the whole system, we will always remain oppressed and depressed together.
General Ayub Khan modified the bilateral system of government and was quite successful with his unilateral form of government, yet his downfall came when he began to use his powers for his personal benefits. The unilateral form of government with accountability checks by the Supreme Court, Armed forces and the media is more likely to facilitate the people, rather than the tried and tested Parliament-Senate form of government. What good has the Senate done to the country besides being used as a tool to get Rehman Malik to become the Interior Minister or by making those politicians who had lost the election in their constituency reach the Parliament?
We can point out corrupt leaders by name but what about all the people behind the scenes? Politicians are faces for a system and it’s the people behind the red curtain who are running the show. Even talking about changing the system is a nebulous conversation. For any system to change or progress to be made we must pay attention to the particulars. What is the system? How does it operate? How do we start changing the parts to effect change to the whole? Whining and crying about the state of things does not equate change unless we, the people of Pakistan, actually do something about it. Small steps lead to big change.