Legal arguments will not cease until heaven and earth pass away, but the three facts are: the 16th Prime Minister of Pakistan was found guilty of a crime; he was sentenced by the Supreme Court; he served the sentence and was released. The dictionary defines a convict as a “person found guilty of a crime and sentenced by a court.” An ex-convict, or ex-con, is a “common way of referring to a person who has been released” after serving his sentence.
The ‘ex-con’ label, in the world outside the Land of the Pure, attracts lifelong implications including social stigma, vilification, societal and employment discrimination. Social stigma is when society thinks that a particular person has done something “really bad”. Social stigma is the “severe disapproval of, or discontent with, a person on the grounds of” criminality. As a consequence there are severe consequences including being branded for life, employment plus loan discrimination. All in all, these are all societal measures to discourage such behaviour.
Now peep into the Land of the Pure - ANP is supporting an ex-con; MQM is supporting an ex-con, and PML(Q) is supporting an ex-con. Plus, the day the Supreme Court found the PM guilty of a crime saw a PPP candidate winning in Multan PP-194 by-elections. Where do you think the PM went right after his conviction - he went on to chair a cabinet meeting. Obviously, there is no societal or voter pressure on ANP, MQM or PML(Q). Obviously, there is no correlation between Pakistani voter’s behaviour and criminality of the political party or the candidate.
According to Max Weber, a German political economist, there are two types of politicians: the power broker who “has no firm political principles ... is completely without conviction and is interested only in how to attract votes.” The other type is the conviction politician who makes “use of purely emotive language of the kind also employed by the Salvation Army in order to set the masses in motion.”
To be certain, the 16th Prime Minister of Pakistan is a perfectly a rational political player. He must have closely analyzed the risk-reward matrix of his behaviour and actions. Obviously, he had concluded that being declared an ‘ex-con’ has more rewards than risks. And why did the 16th Prime Minister of Pakistan reach that conclusion - because the Pakistani voter attaches no stigma to being an ‘ex-con’.
Law does not belong to the courts alone, the Pakistani society-and the voter-must also vilify and discriminate against the behaviour and actions that have been declared as being criminal or illegal by the courts. And if we don’t do that we will continue getting leaders we deserve.