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Opinion

Fleeting moments

August 3, 2017

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Fleeting moments: Ending in a whimper

It began with a roar and ended in a whimper. The Godfather thing – big money behind big crime – and the failure to declare an expected salary of few thousand dirhams. And Nawaz Sharif is no more the prime minister. Some are rejoicing over his ouster and many are mourning over it. Uncertainty prevails in the country.

However, according to Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif had foreign assets and billions in his accounts. But he was disqualified only for failing to declare the salary that he was to receive from his son’s company. The oversight was enough to pronounce him ‘dishonest and untrustworthy’. The first question everyone had on their mind was: how many politicians, bureaucrats and the pious would meet this standard of judgement? Leave all others aside, could I measure up to it? Nope, I’m a sinner. 

Sometimes an event occurring at present takes you down memory lane to remember another event – however innocent it may be. It reminds me of the hostel days at FC College when the boys used to hop over the barbed hedge to watch late shows at the cinema as the hostel gate would close at 9pm. The warden once caught a student for suspiciously roaming near the hedge. When quizzed, the student feigned innocence. But the warden was livid. “I don’t care whether you hopped over the hedge or not but you had the intention to do so,” the warden declared. The boy was severely admonished and let off. But for NS, mere intent was enough to disqualify him from politics – some say forever.

However, many question why the dice is loaded against one family when more accomplished operators in the craft of corruption breathe freely. For instance, Asif Zardari with his proven $60 million in Swiss banks. Yousaf Raza Gilani had preferred to be held in contempt of court and quit premiership than to write a letter to Swiss government to refund the purloined amount to public exchequer. A JIT-style team could easily unearth many properties in foreign lands and the foreign bank accounts of AZ, who now rejoices over NS’s ouster from power. 

Some have even begun to moralise on how the law has rightly caught up with Sharifs. Pervez Musharraf, who had the distinction of abrogating the constitution twice and lives in self-exile, has commended the system for proceeding against the Sharifs. One would have thought highly of Musharraf had he boldly faced the court of law instead of leaving the country on medical grounds. And wasn’t he supposed to return after a few weeks?

But Imran Khan’s decision to launch Sheikh Rashid as a prime ministerial candidate for the interim period surprised everyone. Is Sheikh Rashid ‘prime-minister material’? Allah be praised. Then Imran didn’t even go to parliament to vote for his candidate. Imran Khan and Sheikh Rashid have together redefined the standard of un-parliamentary language used for their political opponents.

Sheikh Rashid was at his sneering best against his political opponents when he addressed a PTI gathering in Islamabad – especially when he scoffed at Nawaz Sharif for his poor command of English language. This is the last thing that he should have pointed out, if he knew his own level of spoken English. Late columnist, Khalid Hasan, a great wit of his time, used to say about Sheikh’s mastery over the English language: “Sheikh Rashid speaks ungrammatical English fluently”. But what he speaks grammatically is the un-parliamentary language that he uses with abandon against his political adversaries. In this, Imran Khan and Sheikh Rashid are a complement for each other.

Nevertheless, many may blame the Sharifs for their financial impropriety and shenanigans. But it is during their various tenures that landmark development took place on the ground. These developments are visible if we talk about the motorway, a wide network of roads, bridges and underpasses and now the power sector.

Is the PPP, which ruled for five years, in a position to show something tangible for its performance other than the scandals of corruption? And what does Imran Khan have to show for his government performance in KP? Ask Ayesha Gulalai.

 

The writer is a freelance columnist based in Lahore.

Email: [email protected]

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