An All Too Familiar Face of Accountability

Source: BBC Urdu

Pakistan is a unique country in terms of governance and politics. Not everything is as it seems and you can often have a hard time discerning who is really at the helm of policy. The case with accountability is not any different. It is often used as a moralizing political tool than a dispenser of justice.

Ever since the office of the Prime Minister was created in Pakistan, the civil and military bureaucrats have been busy inventing excuses to dismiss it. And whether they have not been creative enough in coming up with those excuses, they most certainly have been effective in the ultimate objective.

Ever since General Pervez Musharraf resigned as President, it seems that the coup-ready military of Pakistan has changed its decades-old strategy. It apparently has realized that explicitly taking over the government in Pakistan is either not good for its image internationally or does not garner enough support at home. So now they prefer to move the strings from behind the curtain.

The Pakistani people have been fed a singular dimension of accountability. That the elected office holders or the politicians are the embodiment of all the corruption in the government, while the civil and military bureaucracy is the most efficient machinery in existence. Not only that, they are also the most suitable entities to hold the politicians accountable.

Ever since the revelation of the Panama Papers with the mention of the offshore companies of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, we are seeing the familiar face of accountability surface. As it came as a welcome relief after the drama around electoral rigging died out. And as before, when the military lies dormant, the judiciary plays its part to be the entity ready to stage a soft coup as in the case of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani. The very tone used by judges, in this case, speaks volumes of their intent. It may or may not materialize, but the way the wind has been blowing is unmistakable.

At least for moral reasons, there have been calls for the Prime Minister to step down. Apart from not qualifying on the mystical constitutional standards of “Sadiq” and “Amin”, there is hardly any reason to until a definite proof of money laundering is produced on his person, as opposed to the conjectures listed by the JIT. But if the Prime Minister does not step down, it would be interesting to see how far his opponents go to bring about his demise. In that case, it is probably better for his purpose to play the victimization card.

However, where his governing achievement surpasses most other parties, his poor political leadership is costing him dearly. The problem with the PML-N has always been that it mistakes its heavy mandate as a carte blanche to alienate political stakeholders around the country. Of course, the incurably cynical PTI is on a saboteur mission to take democracy down with themselves but the rest of the parties can at least listen to the majority party and come to its rescue in case of bureaucratic threats.

What the PML-N does not realize is that its overwhelming majority that it takes for its strength is its greatest weakness. Because it has always been targeted by the bureaucratic establishment for such powerful popular support that no other party has enjoyed over three decades. The way it has been targeted is evident from all three terms of Prime Minister Sharif.

Unfortunately, there are elements in our civil and military bureaucracy, as well as the intelligence community, who do not want democracy to flourish in Pakistan. Not only do they not believe in democracy as a system of government, they strongly resent any hint of power in the hands of the public. The bureaucratic rule has been presented as a solution for the Pakistani people since independence and sadly, a good number of people buy into this narrative surviving since colonial times. And who better to hold the politicians accountable than bureaucrats, as evident from the JIT, which has now rendered military intelligence as an extension of the judicial branch.

Nobody has bothered questioning why the JIT has officially become an extension of the Supreme Court. Nobody has bothered questioning why the range of investigation has been extended beyond the revelations of the papers. Nobody has bothered asking why military intelligence officials are investigating the first family. And above all, nobody has bothered questioning why in Pakistan a panel of judges can undo the mandate of the people instead of impeachment by elected officials.

Of course, accountability should be a part of a strong democratic system. And a fragile democracy is hardly any excuse to forego the crimes of the political class. However, it would have been far easier to trust the high office of judiciary and bureaucracy in Pakistan had they enjoyed a cleaner political track record.

So, who is going to hold who accountable?

Well, let’s start from the politicians again. Now and forever.


The post was originally published in the Dunya Blogs.

Why Oh Why? – PPP, Please Get Rid of Abdul Qayyum Jatoi

Politicians in Pakistan have been known for their corruption and loose morals, but no one comes even close to Abdul Qayyum Jatoi of Pakistan People’s Party, who just resigned, correction, was rather sacked, from the position of Federal Minister of Defense Production and is MP from Muzaffargarh, Punjab. He has completely different ideas altogether when it comes to politics, morality and the responsibility of public office. Surely he has revolutionized the concept of equality and equal opportunity with his brilliant ideas. He is probably the only politician, and also the only person in the world, who openly approves of corruption, calls it the right of politicians and believes that everyone should have an equal opportunity for corruption.

Oh well, at least he is honest. Take a look for yourself.

On a TV Talk Show

Recent Press Conference in Quetta

His recent Press Conference in Quetta eventually got him into trouble. Again he shamelessly trumpeted his just ideals of equality that everyone should have an equal right to corruption, which clearly shows that he cares for everyone. Not only that, but he also criticized the Army and the Judiciary to an extent which got the Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani a bit agitated. He should have taken action when he made that irresponsible and insane remark for a figure holding a public office on that TV show, but at last, he made the right move.

He maintained that he made the remark in “personal capacity”. How absurd! Mr. Jatoi, I think you are a leader (unfortunately) and when you make a remark in a public press conference, I don’t think it is considered to be a “personal remark” for which you should not be held accountable, especially when you are serving in public office. First you need some basic lessons in leadership and politics, and only then should you be  allowed to run in elections.

But then again, he is not the only Pakistani politician who needs such a lesson. This clearly speaks volumes about the politics in Pakistan. It does not really need a lot of elaboration.

Jatoi was summoned by the Prime Minister and was asked to explain his remarks. On his failure to satisfy the Prime Minister, he was asked to step down from the position of Federal Minister for Defense Production. Mr. Gilani is one of the most generous souls in the country. Had I been the Prime Minister, not only would I have asked for his resignation from the National Assembly, which is the House of Representatives in Pakistan, but would have also recommended to the Party Leader to kick out this ridiculous criminal from the party.

I think Mr. President needs to take some action as well as the Party Leader, because as far as I know, he has been silent over the matter. I don’t want to be discussing party politics here, but speaking impartially, Pakistan People’s Party, founded by a visionary like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, needs to decide whether it is appropriate to associate themselves with people like Jatoi. Because if they don’t mind, the party will soon be recognized as a symbol of political corruption in Pakistan, if it isn’t already.

At least the people of Pakistan should make up their minds clearly about it. Vote for any party you consider appropriate, but don’t vote for criminals and morally corrupt people like Abdul Qayyum Jatoi, or the country will never progress and improve from its current state of shambles. I am sorry to say this but if anyone votes for Abdul Qayyum Jatoi after all this, I will have to deduce that either that person is not sane, or is a traitor who deliberately wants to destroy Pakistan.