Thursday July 25, 2024

Bell the democratic cat

Pakistan has just sworn in its first non-criminal, non-corrupt, and non-elected prime minister in fi

By Ahmed Quraishi
March 27, 2013
Pakistan has just sworn in its first non-criminal, non-corrupt, and non-elected prime minister in five years. Draw two lines under ‘non-elected’ because our failed version of democracy only throws up professional con artists.
It must have been hard for President Zardari to swear in a ‘clean’ prime minister. But he shouldn’t be too upset. If all goes wrong, as it is doing now, the ball will be back with the failed politicians soon.
The chances of a decent Pakistani like Mir Hazar Khan Khoso becoming a prime minister are as dim as Baroness Sayeeda Warsi being elected a party president in her native Pakistan. In fact, she proved that a smart, hardworking Pakistani from a humble background like hers can’t rise to the top unless they leave the country.
And this is exactly what the smart are doing now. Scores of Pakistani businessmen and professionals have left the country during the glorious democratic period to set up shop in Dubai and elsewhere. It took war and chaos to make the middle classes escape Lebanon, Iran and Afghanistan. In Pakistan, democracy is doing the job.
If democracy was ever a failure in Pakistan, it has fallen in the gutter between 2008 and 2013. That was no democracy. A group of charlatans were allowed under foreign guarantees to steal assets and destroy the country without mercy.
This was no democratic choice either, so the argument that we elected them doesn’t stand. Nor does the argument that these people were our choice through a fair ballot. This is the biggest lie of our politics. They were imposed on this nation and the deck was rearranged to help them win the last election.
Election 2008 was probably the most rigged election ever. Everything – from the ‘corruption-laundering law’ known as the NRO to foreign guarantees to lying under oath en masse to run for public office – all of this is proof that the election was rigged to favour the PPPP-MQM-ANP coalition that came to power. This was a fixed match, not made in heaven but brokered in secret meetings in Dubai, London and Washington.
Sadly, our armed forces were dragged into this dirty deal. Instead of blocking the worst case of foreign meddling in Pakistani politics, our military was turned into a protector and guarantor of those who have just walked away with billions in suitcases. But, please, no one say this publicly. We have to protect democracy.
Most of the stolen money is already out of the country. What’s left is being used to rig the coming election.No fake-degree holders, and dual-passport holders, who lied under oath, have been arrested. Voter fraud in Karachi stands intact, the perpetrators are untouchable, and the Election Commission’s rules have been tossed aside by all major parties.
Our parties and the political elite haven’t changed faces since the 1985 election. It’s a rotten basket now. And the disease will only spread with more elections, not lessen. Watch the steady growth in the militant wings of our parties.
In short, our judiciary and the military are brushing what appears to be the biggest internal threat facing our stability, our democracy and the future of our children under the carpet. The judiciary and the military know they have to bite the bullet eventually, but they are happy postponing it.
Does this mean we need a military takeover? Not by a long stretch. But we do need a smart judicial-military intervention to bring a clean non-political civilian government to power for a substantial period of time to conduct ruthless accountability, seize corruption money in foreign banks, and normalise Pakistan. We need to cut political parties to size, liberate our politics from dynasties, and end foreign meddling and political engineering.
And that means one thing: Break the secret 2007 deal, Chief. Please.