Neo-Normal in Pakistan: Lie, Cheat, and Forge With No Remorse

By Imtiaz Gul

 

For our great neighbour China, the neo-Normal has been a staggering 7%+ GDP growth for nearly a decade. In fact, the term neo-normal had made its way into the economic dictionary simply because of the mind-boggling speed and scale of economic growth of China. But here in Pakistan, we have found neo-normal in other ways: the neo-normal for political leaders, their supporters and sympathisers has been boundless twisting of facts, lying, cheating, and forgery.

In Nawaz Sharif’s case, it hardly matters to his supporters and sympathisers if he narrates one story before the Parliament, presents another (Qatari letter) before the Court and conjures up a third narrative in a willful attempt to misguide the public at large.

Before as well as after the July 28 verdict, Sharif and his cohorts (some of whom are totally blind followers) have made direct or veiled references to a collusion between the judiciary and the military. On July 30, Khwaja Saad Rafiq has even gone on record to state at a press conference in Lahore that, “No state institution orchestrated the Panama case controversy but we still have our reservations about certain individuals… Imran Khan was used as a pawn”.

Nawaz Sharif has told the public that he was disqualified for not drawing a salary since the Court found nothing else against him.

This stands out as a grotesque position. Sharif is projecting his innocence on the one hand, and is misguiding the public on the other hand. Or, is he not even unaware of the Constitution of Pakistan?

The ‘stick’ that the five judges have used in unison came from the country’s supreme law i.e. the Constitution. Regardless of the merits of Zia-era provisions, the qualifications for a member of the Parliament in the Constitution remain as follows: Article 62 in its clause (d) requires a member of the Parliament to be of “good character and is not commonly known as one who violates Islamic Injunctions”. Another clause requires the member to have “ adequate knowledge of Islamic teachings” and to be practising obligatory duties prescribed by Islam as well as abstaining from major sins. The Article also requires the member to be ‘sagacious, righteous and non-profligate, and honest and ameen’, and states that there should be no declaration against the member to the contrary by a court of law.

If this stick was available, there was no need for a gun for disqualifying Nawaz Sharif. And, what about those three criminal cases that the Court has ordered the National Accountability Bureau to initiative against him?

The supporters and opponents of the Panama Papers verdict are using multiple media platforms to express their opinions –some driven by personal and party motives, others by the desire for indiscriminate accountability of public office holders. Amid these voices, one of our veteran journalists, Husain Naqi sahib, has also taken to the social media to summarise his reading of Pakistan’s current socio-political landscape. Naqi sahib enjoys widespread respect for his valiant struggle against civilian and military dictatorships. He has expressed the following views:

“Many democracy lovers and votaries appear to believe that democracy and corruption are synonymous and judicial verdicts against elected office holders are mischief of the military dominated establishment. It is a misgiving. I consider that it is the fallout of military takeovers by usurper generals. However, Prime Minister Nawaz who was inducted into political office/s by a late intelligence chief has been acting quixotically when he challenges the adversary. The establishment enjoys political power without an organised political party thanks to the electables (who fly away whenever they find that their ‘leader’ has lost the establishment’s patronage). How can one challenge an organised well oiled and well armed disciplined body’s top brass? Civilian supremacy can only be established through organised political parties who are able to mobilise people for mass political movements.”

These words invite all Pakistanis to introspect, look around and work for inclusive democracy and not an oligarchy in which all power rests with a few persons or in a dominant class or clique under the guise of democracy.

The author Imtiaz Gul is the Executive Director of Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS). This article originally appeared in Daily Times , August 01, 2017

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