Sunday June 23, 2024

One country, conflicting charters : The Friday Column

By Raoof Hasan
September 09, 2022

The people of Pakistan have been victims of much discrimination, but never quite of a scale as in the current times. There are two separate sets of laws being practised in the country: one for the crime-infested powerful ruling elite and the other for the poor and the marginalized of society. In certain cases, different interpretations of the same law are applied to different people, depending on how they are perceived by those in command.

One set of people get away with puking venom of the vilest variety at state institutions and their functionaries while the other set of people are victimized for even questioning the legitimacy of convicts and absconders in appointing people at key strategic positions. The law looks kindly upon some by giving them leeway for implementing their most wicked interests while it assumes a much harsher interpretation in dealing with some others for merely seeking equitable justice. A leader devoted to the welfare of the state is bracketed with terror and a cabal of crooks, convicts and absconders are rewarded with the apex seat of authority and carte blanche powers for enacting self-serving amendments in laws.

The mighty and the powerful would get away with the most heinous crimes, but the weaklings have to suffer a lifetime of incarceration for even a miniscule lapse. The former brandish their power and pelf with abandon while the latter perpetually suffer humiliation at the hands of an unkind, unjust and oppressive system. The former are fattened on the loot and plunder of the state exchequer while the latter have to be content with throw-away morsels for barely feeding their children. While the developed world is taking strides in realizing the ideals of a welfare state, the rulers here are engaged in discovering ever new methods to further enslave the poor and the powerless. This is happening as the state looks away disdainfully, with its institutions contributing in expediting this sinister process of degeneration.

The harrowing story is endless as are the sufferings of the impoverished multitudes. It looks as if the state has developed this innate capacity to dispense differently in dealing with different people without feeling even a shred of compunction. It is comfortable wearing an apparel of injustice.

The nature of this dispensation generates hatreds and animosities which damage the structure and ethos of the state. A selfless leader who was busy in strengthening national foundations and incorporating sustainable improvements in its structure for transparent and accountable governance is replaced with a band of proven criminals. This despite the fact that when Khan was in power, the country had achieved an impressive GDP growth rate of six per cent over its last two years. Exports had jumped to $31 billion per annum and remittances had gone up to over $31 billion. Industrial services and agricultural broad-based growth had improved by 11.7 per cent which was the highest in the previous 18 years. Sovereign rating had gained substantially which led to correcting the negative perception about the country and its enormous potential. A genuine effort was shaped for introducing accountability for all without exception.

But this improvement in the economic state and outlook of the country was not acceptable to those who have traditionally lorded over the state, directly or indirectly. So, a foreign-inspired and locally collaborated conspiracy was hatched and unleashed resulting in the removal of his government and replacing it with a crime syndicate. This had an immediate impact on the health of the state. The rupee has fallen to its all-time low of 222 to a dollar. Food prices soared as inflation rose to 27 per cent. The stock market slumped. GDP growth rate has been re-evaluated at 0.6 per cent (against six per cent during Khan’s government). Fuel and energy are at their most expensive ever. The Sensitive Price Index has gone up to 45.5 per cent which is the highest in history. Poverty is rampant with a further 10 million people likely to fall below the line in the country.

The IMF has rated this government as the weakest ever since independence. It has no power. It has no credibility and no relevance. It has no commitment.

It has no short- or long-term policies which would bring any improvement in the lives of the poverty-stricken people whose suffering increases by the day. Its only real focus is on securing relief from multiple cases which are registered against them for having committed incorrigible crimes of corruption and money-laundering.

There are also reports that the country may soon be heading towards civil strife – a harrowing spectacle achieved within five months of the criminal cabal taking over a country that was well on its way to economic emancipation. Despite his stellar achievements, Khan was reckoned undesirable while this band of criminals, with compromised backgrounds, remain the favourites of those in the shadows.

Khan is gone, but his popularity soars by the day. Every rally he convenes sets new records of attendance and passion. He is the recognized leader of the people who have reposed their unflinching faith in his integrity, sincerity and ability to win them genuine freedom from the clutches of those who have forever exploited them for their personal advancement. They are neither willing to let this injustice continue, nor do they feel helpless any longer.

The people believe that Khan will not fail them. It is a new people taking charge. It is a new Pakistan taking shape. It is a new spirit instilling verve and devotion in the justness of a cause and the certainty of its fulfilment. It is a feeling of soaring in supportive winds which are taking them further in the attainment of their cherished ideals.

Khan is no ordinary soul. He proved by performance when he ruled. He is now proving his strength by resisting the forces of fascism and barbarity which have been unleashed upon the people. He is far more powerful today than when he was ruling the country. This is the cardinal blunder the conspirators committed when they hatched the criminal conspiracy to remove him as the prime minister. From ruling the country, Khan has moved on to ruling the hearts and minds of the people. His adversaries conspired when he ruled. They are mortally afraid of his power now. Sadly, the country suffers as a consequence of the fanciful whims of the conspirators.

Khan surges forth – more powerful than ever before. He cannot be wished away through a deliberate and institutionalized distortion campaign. The raging battle he leads is for ensuring justice – one charter for all, one treatment for all. This raging battle is for holding free, fair and transparent elections without further loss of time.

The writer is a political and security strategist and the founder of the Regional Peace Institute in Islamabad. He tweets @RaoofHasan