This PPP government has “not done” many things it should have, and “done” many it should not have, earning disgrace points on both counts.
If a survey was conducted on which among the “not done,” or “done,” things have earned the PPP government most disgrace points, undoubtedly topping the list in the “not done” category would be its failure to find the killers of Benazir Bhutto, in the nearly three years that it has wielded power. In the “done” category, ruination of cricket in the country and of the national airline PIA will score very high.
Itemising all the numerous other things this government has “not done,” or “done,” and for which it has accumulated impressive disgrace points would only invite a long, weary yawn, and the retort, “So what else is new?” All the “not done,” and “done,” things of the Zardari dispensation will live to torment the PPP for long, much longer than the myth of “roti, kapra aur makan” created by the PPP has lived to frustrate, and torment, the wretched poor. The way the present rulers are governing the country, and the way private fortunes are being piled and assets being acquired, good governance is clearly neither the desire nor the aim of the rulers.
Churchill said of Russia that “it is a riddle wrapped in mystery inside an enigma,” something that Benazir’s murder has also become. Churchill also said, “perhaps there is a key, and that key is Russia’s national interest.” Is it in Pakistan’s national interest that Benazir’s murder mystery be resolved? Or is it in interest of some, or many, that it not be resolved?
From the extraordinary speed with which the murder site was hosed down, even before the Scotland Yard team with its limited mandate arrived, the hasty official declaration that it was the lever on the vehicle’s sunroof which fatally injured Benazir’s head, a claim immediately debunked as impossible by the manufacturers, to the mysterious movements of the lead vehicle after the murder, with a covey of trusted acquaintances inside, the-then head of PPP security and incumbent minister for interior heading to Zardari House in Islamabad immediately after the murder, instead of taking charge of the situation, the refusal of permission for a post-mortem, and other similar actions – all are of the sort that would turn any tragedy into a mystery.
Involving the UN, and then rejecting its report because, while it did not expressly charge anyone or any group with the crime, it also did not absolve anyone or any group. The same treatment has been meted out, for the same reasons, to the Joint Investigation Team’s report. All this gives the impression that what the rulers are only looking for is a report that will absolve them wholly of every failing and omission, including lack of care by party leaders who organised the Liaquat Park public meeting.
After rejection of the Joint Investigation Team’s report, action against some police officers has been taken – three years after the crime. All these strengthen the impression that the rulers, instead of investigating the crime, are only going through time-consuming motions of doing so.
For the people, their cricket team and PIA, the national airline, were a source of pride. For the millions of Pakistanis at home, or those working in the Middle East, Europe, America, Canada and elsewhere, news of the Pakistan cricket team’s triumphs or the sight of a PIA plane at a foreign airport would bring a lump in the throat. No more. For both, the cricket team and PIA, have become a source of embarrassment for Pakistanis wherever they are.
And, all above, to assuage the ego of one man, the president of Pakistan, who nominated the present heads of the Pakistan Cricket Board and PIA, men who have led the two institutions to their virtual ruin. Their continuation appears to have become a matter of personal ego for the president, who would rather see the two institutions run to the ground than hurt his ego by changing what clearly have been his poor choices.
The PIA housing scheme for employees launched with much fanfare boggles the mind. Is PIA a business concern ready to share profits liberally with employees, if the employees help it earn them, or is it a welfare organisation for PPP workers, to house and feed them? There is no indication of where the money for the housing scheme would come from. Nor of how would plans, if there are any, for improvement of the airline’s performance, acquisition of new assets, getting rid of indebtedness would be executed. What level of bailout package would ultimately be needed?
The story of the Pakistan Cricket Board under the nominee of the president needs no retelling. It is being told every day, on the fields of New Zealand, in the world press, by the unending proceedings of ICC against Pakistan players, by the ham-fisted manager, coach, team selectors and other PCB underlings. The man at the top, when he is a poor choice himself, will invariably have underlings who are products of his own poor choices. Someone in the PPP should have told the president that if his government does nothing except rejuvenate the cricket team to enable it to play to its full potential, and win regularly, he would have had to do little else to be popular.
It is hard to say if anyone close to the president does any reading. Otherwise he, or she, could have brought to the president’s attention John Carlin’s book Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation. Or, better still, arranged for the president to watch the movie of the book called Invictus.
The book and the movie are a true story of how Nelson Mandela used the game of rugby to unite white and black South Africans into one nation. He arranged for the Springboks, the South African rugby team, to train unremittingly for the 1995 Rugby World Cup. This generated huge enthusiasm among white South Africans, and a growing interest for rugby in the majority black population. South Africa went on to win the1995 Rugby World Cup, and whites and blacks celebrated as one and embraced each other.
In Pakistan, cricket is probably the only thing which brings the people together as a nation. Instead of using the national passion for the game to unite the people by developing a winning team, he picked the wrong person for PCB chairman, causing the game to be disgraced.
The writer is former corporate executive. Email: [email protected]