An ode to our 70th Anniversary

All is not lost; there is still hope

An ode to our 70th Anniversary


As the nation approaches its 70th Anniversary, to our utter shame, our sitting PM, has been disqualified by the SC from holding public office on grounds of dishonesty. Furthermore, he and the bulk of his family are likely to be subjected to criminal prosecution.

Obviously, the PM, his family and cohorts have observations on the judgment, and some of these observations are justified. Among the observations is the fact that all investigations of corruption against PPP politicians seem to be fizzling out; which is also true. The accusation that sums embezzled by PPP politicians may be many times the Sharif family and cohort’s may have misappropriated, may also be true.

The cry that judicial accountability should be across the board, including, not only politicians, bureaucrats and other civilian office holders, but also those in military uniform, is also fully justified. While the military does have its inbuilt system of accountability and, for at least, the last four years or so, it has worked but, it must be more transparent. Justice here must also be ‘seen to be done’.

That being said, neither complaint should lead to the conclusion that the Sharif family should escape judgment when it has been found guilty. “The only real thief is the one who gets caught”. If Zardari and party were clever enough not to become culpable, that does not make Sharifs less so.

But, there may be more to this judicial action than meets the eye. The fact is that the inquiry by the JIT resulted in compiling ten volumes of evidence. One to nine have been made public; the tenth has not. This has resulted in obvious suspicions.

Rumour has it that, the Sharif family struck a deal to the effect that the (possibly) flawed judgment would be accepted if Volume Ten of the JIT report was not made public. If that be so, there is virtually no scope for any of them to now cry ‘foul’.

It doesn’t end here. Just as Imran Khan’s sickening gloating was beginning to look funny, Ayesha Gulalai accused him of sexual harassment. PTI supporters were quick to rally to the defence of poor innocent Khan. Few may have forgotten his carefully built image of the naughty playboy, but his supporters have.

Rumuors are silent killers. In this benighted country accusing the Army and ‘agencies’ is the easiest thing. But even these may not sound sufficiently threatening. So there is always the ‘establishment’. Yet what captures the real ominous essence of should-be-national-defenders is ‘The Deep State’ 

The real truth of her allegations is unknown but, the ugly, spiteful, malicious, and entirely despicable response of Khan’s supporters only demonstrates how low our political aspirants can stoop.

The swift re-birth of Ayesha Ahad’s five-years-old complaint against another Sharif scion was too pat for anyone to miss the connection but that did not deter the Khan supporters. Even more interesting is the fact that the KP’s own accountability department has suddenly discovered long-standing accusations of corruption.

Most readers may have thought that, now that a PM has been held accountable, a CM may be next. I am sure that they will all be pleased to know that, according to the KP accountability department (not NAB), the CM KP, Mr Khattak, is as clean as riven snow.

The discovered corruption was by Ms Gulalai. Indeed that same courageous lady who, having accused Khan, that poor innocent, found herself and her family subjected not only to threats but also to, some of the filthiest gutter-sniping in our political history. That poor child will now be subjected to further malicious ignominy and embarrassment.

This obviously shames none of our politicians but it is to my utter shame and, I am sure that here I do not stand alone.

As I have said before, rumours are silent killers. Impossible to trace or kill. In this benighted country the easiest thing to get away with is to accuse the army and ‘agencies’. But ‘army’, even ‘agencies’ may not sound threatening and, therefore, ‘establishment’ but the really ominous and threatening term for these, should-be-national-defenders is ‘The Deep State’.

Personally, I was quite prepared for the [implied] accusations by Sharif cohorts of complicity between the judiciary and the deep state for the judgment that ousted their PM. However untrue the accusations, they will always find an audience.

But even the inane lone politician, Sheikh Rashid, who continues to make noise which he alone can make sense of, has implied military involvement somewhere. Obviously, he has decided to forsake the joint cry for a ‘third umpire’, which he and the innocent Khan raised incessantly. His implications of involvement from behind the curtain may still find takers.

As if, just to prove their callous indifference to lives of common citizens, the Sharif convoy ran over a former soldier and a young boy, killing both and without stopping. Shameless, dastardly cowards all. Save the Sharif from any ‘imagined threat’, irrespective of who dies en route.

Before I conclude; for those oldies who, like me, find their heads bowed in despair and profound shame at this overview of our political horizon on the eve of our 70th anniversary, be of good cheer. All is still not lost; there is still hope.

When I look at my grandchildren and their contemporaries, I see hope. These children, teenagers, young boys and girls, are all determined to celebrate this anniversary. These children do not seem to want an increase in their national holidays to celebrate; to the contrary, they seem to want to do something, to change, improve, unify, and write for themselves a brighter future than we gave them.

Yes, our political horizon is bleak and gloomy, ugly and shameful. But these children may re-write the script. Let’s all wish them good fortune.

 

The writer is a retired brigadier. He is also former vice president and founder of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI)

 

 

Published in Daily Times, August 13th 2017.