Much has been written and said about the sagacity of accepting changes that keep occurring within our lives as well as around us. If, however, one tries to confront these changes by the measure of brute force alone, or by refusing to accept because these are out of sync with a narrative no matter how sick and nauseating that may be, then, unfortunately, the currents of change will wash away the obstacles as part of the debris. The traditional mafias of the country appear to be suffering from a similar mental block. They are not only refusing to see that a change is underway and that things may never be the same again, they are determined to resist it by all means at their disposal, be they fair or foul. It is like they are frozen in time with little inkling or willingness to let it thaw for them to see the reality on ground, even become part of it. Pakistan is undergoing a distinctive transformation — from a past sullied with a myriad crimes and gross misdemeanours of the ruling mafias to an age that comes with the promise of better times. Whatever one has seen since the assumption of office by the incumbents speaks of their heart being in the right place. But, there is so much more to be done by way of accomplishing even a miniscule of the targets which have been broadly outlined. That requires hard work based on clarity of thought supplemented by drafting transparent and efficient mechanisms. Even more important is the reality that accomplishing the task would require the support of a vast repertoire of people across divisions and differences. Because, it is only then that Pakistan will be able to break the logjam that it has been stuck in for decades. And, when that happens, the country shall progress and its stature rise in the international appraisal. Remaining frozen in time is no longer an option. If the occasion has finally arrived for some to be permanently exiled into the kingdom of the unknown, let there be no weakness shown, no compromise made. Let it be done clinically and correctly. It is the state’s call and it is the state that should stand tall and proud! In a country where corruption and lopsided priorities have been essential ingredients of governance since its inception, change could never be easily visualised and implemented. All those people who have been responsible for institutionalising this deep-set malaise and have contributed in multiple ways to its spread are the biggest hurdles in the way of the success of any remedial measures. That is exactly what one is witnessing — and in such crass manner! There are two different scenarios which are being deviously orchestrated: one being that the accountability process which is now being actively pursued is actually political victimisation and that there is collusion between the NAB and the government to have the opposition eliminated, thus paving the way to perpetuate the rule of the PTI, fully aided and abetted by the military. As part of the other scenario, every avenue is being pursued to win a reprieve for the political elite of the PMLN and PPP so that they could recommence their careers and their corruption spree, albeit after a break. On its front, PTI faces two challenges. First, it has to remain true to eliminating corruption and holding accountable all those who have been guilty of ransacking the state exchequer. It also has to deliver on its pre-election promises of turning Pakistan into a welfare state geared to the needs of its poor and marginalised people. Additionally, it has to set the direction for a future that would free Pakistan from the traditional stranglehold of dependence on friendly counties and international donor organisations alike for economic morsels which directly impact its sovereignty and independence. These are huge challenges beginning with changing the culture of corruption that is so deeply ingrained and which provides the ‘wheels’ to work being done. I wrote some time back that Pakistan suffers from two kinds of corruption: one of greed and one of need. The former variety afflicts the ruling elite whose lust has no limits while the latter is an ailment that has gripped the impoverished communities who live on the fringes and are constantly fighting for their survival. Indulging in a bit of trickery is, therefore, projected as part of their effort to ensure that they live another day. The crime committed by the two communities may be similar, but their motivations are different. The rich have partaken of it to satiate their limitless lust while the poor have indulged in it to survive. But, in the eyes of the law, both are guilty. Both varieties of corruption have to be eliminated. Fear of punishment is one way which has to be employed for deterring the marauding mafias, while making the state responsible in fulfilling its basic obligations onto its citizens in the context of implementing the social contract is the other aspect which, by comparison, and besides being obligatory, is far more important and relevant. It is finding and perfecting the means and mechanisms to accomplish these goals that hold the future captive. The heart being in the right place is important, but serious endeavours need to be initiated to accomplish these tasks without any undue loss of time. The opposition’s hollering can be best met by institutionalising various aspects of governance including the components of elimination of corruption and poverty. It must also be ensured that everyone, including those sitting in the government, is rendered equally accountable before law. The government may be new and it may still be learning, but remaining weak is not an ingredient that will take it far. The job of governance must continue with professional firmness, without interruption and with the focus remaining on the ultimate objectives that need to be secured. Those who have indulged in remorseless corruption but continue beating the drums of their innocence should be subjected to the law with no reprieve offered. This is a make or break time for Pakistan. If such a reprieve is offered, there would be no way corruption could ever be controlled. And, without that happening, there is no way the state would survive to move forward. The choice is old and daunting: is it the state that should hold unquestioned supremacy to the benefit of those in need, or the traditional ruling mafias be allowed to manipulate it to further advance their myopic and self-focused agendas? The former is paramount and cannot be compromised and the latter encompasses but a handful of people who keep entering the arena and exiting. Remaining frozen in time is no longer an option. If the occasion has finally arrived for some to be permanently exiled into the kingdom of the unknown, let there be no weakness shown, no compromise made. Let it be done clinically and correctly. It is the state’s call and it is the state that should stand tall and proud! The writer is a political and security strategist, and heads the Regional Peace Institute — an Islamabad-based think-tank. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @Raoof Hasan Published in Daily Times, December 16th2018.