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Opinion

March 23, 2015

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Irrelevant democracy

Senate elections once again blessed us the un-VIP rabble with the soothing sight of our healthy wealthy democrats of nearly all ilk advancing the cause of democracy in impressive unison.
How well democracy is prospering in this country can be gauged by the ever-growing number of dishes at democratic banquets from scrumptious fried fish to sumptuous kala hiran (blackbuck) kebabs. However, 33-year-old Marubhat, a resident of Samo Bheel village situated at two hour drive from Chachhro, Thar perhaps thought otherwise when she committed suicide on August 23, 2014 after failing to provide food to her children.
Children dying daily of disease, poverty and malnutrition in Thar is now more a ‘normal’ routine unworthy of being called breaking news. “71 percent households in the province are food insecure” – that was not an accusation by a mischievous political actor jealous of the blooming democracy but a revelation made in a report drafted by the government in 2013.
‘What has democracy done for us?’ Ask people on the street about democracy and this is what they ask you. “The former PPP government during its five year term took an unprecedented and staggering amount of Rs8.136 trillion in loans and the PML-N government has now decided to investigate how the money was spent and its repercussions on the national economy”. This is what Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar informed the National Assembly on August 23, 2013.
Pakistan’s debt rose from around Rs6 trillion to over Rs14 trillion during that democratic period which also saw food insecurity affecting around half (48.6 percent) of the country’s population as was confirmed in a report titled ‘The state of food security in Pakistan’ sponsored by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation released on June 2, 2010. Looking at the condition of the country and its economy one wonders where all that money went. Did the finance minister ask the former democratic rulers, now the

democratic ‘opposition’, about the whereabouts of that money that could have literally changed the country for good? He didn’t tell us if he did.
Admiral (r) Fasih Bokhari, then chief of federal government’s National Accountability Bureau, on December 13, 2012 presented his revised estimate of Rs13 billion corruption per day or Rs5 trillion a year. “At least 200 billion dollars of Pakistani money is stashed in Swiss banks”, the federal finance minister revealed on May 9 last year. Did the democratic ‘opposition’ ask the finance minister as to what has been done so far to recover that money? They didn’t tell us if they did.
Last year when ‘democratic forces’ felt a threat to the ‘system’ from Imran Khan they stood united. They also stood united when commoners in a PIA flight protested against the late arrival of VIPs. The protesting passenger lost his job and the parliamentarians stood united against commoners’ disrespect to VIP decorum.
But did they ever stand united in proposing and ensuring the elimination of this apartheid style VIP system in this country? Did they ever stand united to recover looted money stashed at home and abroad? Did they ever stand united to ensure purging of all political organisations of criminals, killers, land grabbers, extortionists and corrupt elements? Did they ever stand united to demand and ensure cleansing the police force of political influence and appointments?
They stood united to swiftly and smoothly pass the 18th Amendment to ensure creation of their respective provincial kingdoms but did they stand united to give people their share of basic democracy – local bodies governments? They shed tears over military courts, but did they spare some tears for dying children in Thar or for the billions and trillions of rupees looted out of this ‘poor’ country?
What are the benefits that reconciliatory politics has created for the common people? They were even applying this reconciliation with terrorists who have killed more than 50,000 Pakistanis and their soldiers. Did they ever stand united on supporting a countrywide even-handed operation against all sorts of criminals and corrupt elements?
For many cursing the establishment is an intellectual obligation but it’s the establishment that prevailed upon to purge this country of the overpowering reign of crime and terrorism and the people are naturally thankful and supportive of them. And why shouldn’t they be?
To say that Pakistanis are not satisfied with democracy would be the understatement of the decade. Pakistanis (the common folk) do not see this democracy as a democracy but as a system by the corrupt and powerful for the corrupt and powerful. People are irrelevant to a ‘democracy’ where notes and votes count and not the people. Do our ‘united democrats’ realise that?
Email: [email protected]

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