We are in the 10th month of the PTI government and in that short while we have seen it all: incapability to address issues, mini-budgets, cabinet shuffle, resignation and incessant clamouring. PTI probably would be the only party in the world who still has not come to term with the fact that they’re in the government now, not on the container anymore and they have to start acting like one before steam runs out. In the five years when PTI was in the opposition, they bashed the sitting government of PMLN for every other thing. They seemed to have an answer for everything until they formed the government. They stalled the progress of the country in every which way: 126 days dharna (they seemed so proud of it that they offer fully sponsored opportunity to opposition) in which the current Prime Minister mentioned umpire’s finger is about to rise every day without fail and the frustrated PTI went on to support the questionable Faizabad sit in. But despite all the obstacles PMLN went on to complete the five years term, only the second time since 1947. In all that time, PTI was aware of challenges ahead for them and the state of the economy because of their actions still they didn’t have any plan when they eventually formed the government. PTI delayed going to the IMF to seek financial assistance for some strange reasons and the rest is history.
So far, we have only heard the blame game from the government. They have not missed a forum to malign the PMLN and PPP for the crisis faced by the country: in the press, National Assembly, Senate and talk shows. If they had shown the same diligence with which they have continued to level charges against the previous government things would have been different. But their concentration and focus remained on one thing – corruption. Beyond that, they have no argument to counter PMLN now sitting on opposition benches. The baseless numbers they have claimed and failed to justify with evidence could have easily been avoided. But they chose not to. PTI government should have known or somebody should have told them that mere allegations are not enough and that they must give evidence of the same. Yet the mudslinging saw no end and perhaps never will till PTI is in power because they don’t have anything else in the goodies bag they promised to the people of Pakistan.
Apart from all of this, PTI has failed to run the Parliament in the proper way. No real legislation has been done so far – the sole purpose ministers and senators are there. If they’re so concerned about corruption then why PTI has not tabled a bill against it yet? This is the only productive and result oriented way of action. Whatever has happened in the past is now buried; we have present and future in front of us so why not ensure it won’t happen anymore? But all elected ministers do during the session is hurled allegations and leave wasting the precious resources of the national exchequer. If there is a way of putting things right and somehow end corruption it is via Parliament. It is another matter that corruption cannot be eradicated but can be controlled. This can only happen when the Parliament and system are considered supreme and not the containers. The system itself needs time and effort to evolve and mature which sadly it never got and allowed. So far, we have seen exactly the opposite from the government: incessant clamouring without any real considerable effort.
The bitter truth is that the system was never allowed a chance to grow and mature since Independence. It was always hijacked and derailed in the name of the fight against corruption, something PTI also keep crying foul about but like its predecessors has done nothing to combat the menace. What actually happened instead of eradication of the corruption is common knowledge – a many-fold increase in the business empire. What actually was achieved from the derailing of the system and abrogation of the constitution every so often? The misadventures have only created problems for the country and only served the vested interests of the parties involved. One fails to understand why as a nation we take it upon us to solve a matter instead of going for the legal course of action? How can the people who are only trained to protect the borders run a country? The results are evident and the country is still suffering from it. The politicians are not innocent but they’re not the main culprit until the system is allowed to function freely. While deliberating on the progress of the country we often forget the 34 years of military dictatorship and how judiciary always approved the abrogation of the constitution. These stints have resulted in the fall of Dhaka, terrorism, crippled economy and three imposed wars. They failed to bring discipline in the institutions and steer the country and have always ended up looking for politicians to help them out.
As if it was not enough, they try to steer government from the backseat and do political engineering for the years’ power was not directly with them. It is rather unfortunate that since independence Pakistan has not seen free and fair elections. Only in the 2018 elections, the spend was Rs.21 billion and an astonishing three hundred and fifty thousand army personnel were deployed across the country on the Election day. If they have to select the government then instead of the charade might as well select and save national exchequer the cost. As a nation, we have not learned from the past and continue to make the same mistake religiously. Why these forces cannot let the democratic system run and flourish? What harm it does to them? What else will make them realise that?
There are problems and loopholes but the system can fix them over the period of continuous running but not when it has to make a fresh start after every 10 years or so. Can we blame a child for anything? No. Similarly, a system which has remained in infancy since Independence cannot be questioned. It took 200 years for the democratic system to mature in the United Kingdom and they worked for it patiently. It has reached a stage where people cast vote to the manifesto and what the party has managed to deliver in its earlier tenure. There has not been a single martial law in India since Independence which we got together from the British Empire. As a result, the system has grown and fast reaching the desired maturity levels. There has never been a hue and cry over the rigged elections. There are many other examples of the countries where a system is running in its full form and the pillars of the state do not meddle in each other’s business and work independently towards one goal – progress. This certainly doesn’t mean there aren’t any problems and issues but they have the system to deal with them not the container and backseat drivers.
According to Transparency International, corruption means, “Generally speaking as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”. Corruption can be classified as grand, petty and political, depending on the amounts of money lost and the sector where it occurs.
Grand corruption consists of acts committed at a high level of the government that distort policies or the central functioning of the state, enabling leaders to benefit at the expense of the public good. Petty corruption refers to everyday abuse of entrusted power by low- and mid-level public officials in their interactions with ordinary citizens, who often are trying to access basic goods or services in places like hospitals, schools, police departments and other agencies.
Political corruption is a manipulation of policies, institutions and rules of procedure in the allocation of resources and financing by political decision-makers, who abuse their position to sustain their power, status and wealth.”
Going by the above classification bringing corruption to an end is insurmountable ask so instead of wasting time clamouring about it some active measures must be taken. Why not work on the system and ways to deal with corruption? Why not introduce legislation and constitutional reforms? Why not let the system sustain itself for good 20-25 years? Why not show some restraint in abrogating the constitution and derailing the democratic system? When the system will reach maturity it will have the ability to become a hurdle in the way of corruption. Transparency and accountability are the by-products of the democratic system. We don’t necessarily need to put in extra effort or set up a separate office for this purpose.
My sixteen years old niece schooled me a few months ago that politics and corruption go hand in hand and you can control it but cannot minus one from the other. I learnt a lesson and started talking about the system more than corruption. The sooner we will understand and make a collective effort for the progress of the system and country at large the better. Pakistan Zindabad.