by Waseem Shehzad (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 51, No. 9, Rabi' al-Thani, 1444)
There is no end in sight to Pakistan’s political crisis. The bunch of criminals, murderers and money-launderers that the army top brass has imposed on Pakistan are in no position to solve the country’s problems. Nor do they have the desire to do so. It would be difficult to find a comparable crisis in Pakistan’s 74-year history.
Prices have skyrocketed with inflation touching 40% and poverty increasing alarmingly. On the other hand, the two families—the Sharifs and Zardaris—that have ruled Pakistan for 30 years between them, continue to live their rapacious lifestyle and shamelessly claim that they are innocent of all wrongdoing.
The judiciary has been so corrupted that it delivers verdict based not on the rule of law but whichever way the political wind is blowing. Consider the dismissal of corruption charges against the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and her husband Safdar by the Islamabad High Court in September.
They were convicted by the Pakistan Supreme Court in July 2018. Can a lower court set aside the verdict of the highest court in the land? Only in Pakistan can one witness such absurdities that make a mockery of the judicial system. The judges still have the gall to take offense if someone points to their diabolical conduct. They call it ‘contempt of court’. If they have no dignity or self-respect, how can they accuse anyone of contempt of court?
Pakistan is ruled by several mafias. The biggest mafia that rules Pakistan is the military, or more specifically the army top brass. It sits at the top of the decision-making pyramid. Euphemistically called the ‘Establishment’, it is the most powerful institution in the country.
The military not only consumes the bulk of state resources but also interferes in all aspects of policy: security, politics, economy and foreign affairs. It has no constitutional authority to do so but because it has the guns and the tanks, it can brow-beat everyone else into submission.
The generals also silence any voices criticizing their unconstitutional role. Calls from unknown numbers threatening to “fix” offenders are common. Journalists and politicians have been arrested and roughed up in jail. Others have simply disappeared. On October 24, Arshad Sharif, a senior journalist who was forced to flee the country was gunned down in Kenya. His murder is meant to send a message to others, most specifically to Imran Khan, that if they do not take heed, they would suffer a similar fate.
This bunch of parasites is the product of British colonialism. In 1857, the Muslims of India staged an uprising against the British colonialists as a last-ditch attempt to save Muslim rule. There was, however, a tiny minority of Muslims that sided with the British and acted as agents their agents. When the uprising was ruthlessly crushed, Muslims who had betrayed their own people, were ‘rewarded’ with vast land estates.
Today, the grandchildren and great grandchildren of those traitors, plague Pakistani politics. Most lack formal education. They indulge in all the cruel practices of feudalism. Even education does not make much of a difference as was the case with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, his daughter Benazir and now her son, Bilawal Zardari. To the outside world, they present a polished image speaking with a contrived British accent but they remain feudal to the core in their conduct at home.
There are few more dishonorable people than the men (and very few women) in robes in Pakistan. They do not dispense justice. Their overriding concern is to please the masters that be. While there are more than two million cases pending before the courts, these dishonorable men continue to hold sessions—even in the middle of the night or on Sundays—to serve the wishes of their masters by setting aside charges against them. The exoneration of the Sharifs and their cronies is a case in point.
The judiciary’s decline started in October 1958 when the judges sucked up to General Ayub Khan following his imposition of martial law. The Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice Muhammad Munir justified Ayub’s illegal act under the ‘doctrine of necessity’. For this service rendered to Caesar, Justice Munir was appointed Law Minister in Ayub Khan’s cabinet.
It was a marriage of the military with the judiciary in 1958 that sealed Pakistan’s fate. The judges have not looked back since. Even Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s defiance of General Pervez Musharraf in 2007 turned out to be a disaster. Once restored in his position through the lawyers’ movement, Justice Chaudhry scaled new heights of corruption!
Closely related to the judiciary is the police force. It is the most corrupt and hated institution in the country. People see the police as their enemy. Ordinary people do not register their cases with the police because they have no faith in them. People know that instead of registering their cases accurately, they will side with those that are powerful.
Not surprisingly, Transparency International has declared Pakistan’s judiciary and the police as the most corrupt institutions in the country.
In the last 15 years, another mafia has emerged on the scene: the media, or more precisely television anchors. Far from acting as the conscience of the people, they have turned into blackmailers and purveyors of falsehood. Barring minor exceptions, the vast majority sing to the tune of their paymasters. “Lifafah journalism” (envelop stuffed with money journalism) is a peculiarly Pakistani invention.
In most countries the bureaucracy acts as the glue that keeps the state machinery functioning, especially during times of transition. In Pakistan, the bureaucracy serves the interests of whichever party—in uniform or civilian clothes—is in power. Bureaucrats prefer to follow orders, legal or illegal, in order not to run afoul of the powers that be.
Like all other institutions in Pakistan, the bureaucracy is also thoroughly corrupt. People cannot get anything done without greasing the palms of these greasy creatures. The bureaucracy continues to operate on the same lines that the British colonialists had created. Its function was not to serve the people, but to entangle them in endless bureaucratic red tape.
Nothing has changed since Pakistan’s creation. The bureaucracy continues to act as an impediment to people’s legitimate needs. It is also the bureaucracy that facilitates the land mafia’s theft of other people’s lands. Add to this the vile police force and a corrupt judiciary, and one can begin to see how dismal the picture is for ordinary people.
Given the grip of these mafias and the scale of corruption, what is the solution to Pakistan’s problems? Imran Khan thinks elections will usher in change. Even if he wins a two-third majority in parliament, given the dishonesty of politicians and constant manipulation by the army, he will achieve little. Besides, there are ISI moles in his inner circle (Faisal Vawda, for instance, whose party membership has since been suspended because he made statements contrary to party policy).
Pakistan is beyond the stage of reform. It needs a revolution. The entire system is rotten to the core. It must be uprooted completely. There is no other way to save Pakistan.
Despite his sincerity and honesty, Imran Khan must answer this simple question: is there any example in history when people with vested interests have voluntarily given up power?