By Mohammed Ajeeb, CBE
Away from cold, rain and damp to constant sun and dust, I am resting in my ancestors place in a village at the edge of Mangla Dam Lake near Mirpur in Azad Kashmir which is administered by Pakistan. Four weeks of my stay here has already induced in me a strong feeling of strangeness and alieness.
This is perhaps due to my continued long stay in the United Kingdom, hence, this has induced in me the life style which is not, in many ways, appreciated here. Since my arrival in the country, I have travelled widely to several large cities of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir as well as their rural areas and have met people of all classes of political persuasion. My initial observations are sorely disappointing.
Sadly Pakistan is a country where corruption, nepotism, religious ignorance, intolerance, political turbulence and volatility and violence controls all most every aspect of life. It’s a country where frenzied mobs are free to take law into their own hands. Recently a young couple of Christian faith was publicly lynched, tortured and then burnt to death in a bricks kiln who were alleged to have committed blasphemy by a greedy and corrupt cleric. And yet there is no visible evidence which such a barbaric act has prompted any serious reflection as to why the country continues to suffer from the passion of the Dark Ages.
Merely empty rhetoric’s have been uttered both by religious and political leaders just to appease the minorities. The low enforcing agencies in these kinds of incidences are reluctant to intervene because of the fear of backlash from emotionally charged fanatical mobs. The courts are also scared of delivering justice to the victims of these extremists’ activities due to retaliations to judges and their families, thus these heinous crimes continue without any punity. It is a country where the rich and powerful can buy justice but the poor and powerless are facing all kinds of injustices. The legal system of the country is skewed in the favour of the rich and powerful and offers very little to poor citizens and much less to the minorities of the country.
The superior courts only deal with issues of national significance, the malpractices and open corruption are the norms of lower courts where the criminal justice is supposed to be delivered to the poor classes.
The government appears to be unwilling or unable to confront the forces of extremism with firm conviction. It’s a country that is governed by close members of one family alone. Therefore, its poor state of governance makes it dysfunctional. The rapidly deteriorating law and order situation has also weakened the government. The head of Tehreek-e-Insaaf, Imran Khan’s persistent accusations of corruption and malpractices against the incumbent government has given credence to the very poor image of government. It’s also a country where more or less every day small and large protests and demonstrations are held regularly.
Due to massive unemployment, people of all ages willingly join these events as a matter of curiosity or are hired to inflate the number at such rallies. Of course there are also those who participate in these events because of their loyalty or commitment to the political or religious organizations who invite them. However, no leader talks about the major issues like unemployment, inflation, law and order, poverty and many other social problems. The political leadership, is in the main, preoccupied with their day to day existence. Over three months of sit-ins by Imran Khan in Islamabad has shaken the Nawaz Sharif government badly.
Undoubtedly, Imran Khan has fully taken the advantage continuously both at his dharna’s (protests) and his rallies in the large cities of Punjab and Sindh provinces when he has made endless allegations against the failure of the current system. He has also made stinging personal attacks on Nawaz Sharif, his personal assets abroad and wrong doings of his government.
Whereas Imran Khan has caused uncertainty and nervousness in the governments circles, he has in the three months gifted the nation with enormous awareness of some of the most pertinent problems facing the country. He has skillfully secured the overwhelming support of young Pakistani of both genders. His claim to organize a huge rally in the constitutional avenue Islamabad at the end of the month, is seen to be a real test for the government. The established class of politicians and some of critics accuse him of political immaturity, stubbornness and a stooge of the establishment. He is also described as a politician with nauseating clarity. His politics is defined as a blend of religion, conservatism and his sympathies with the Taliban and other extreme religious organizations.
However, the Captain is determined to continue with his dharna in Islamabad and sooner or later to dislodge Sharif’s government from power. On the other hand, Dr. Tahir ul Qadari has returned to Pakistan from his recent tour of North America and Europe and has once more added extra dimensions to be already volatile politics of the country. He has out rightly rejected the government appointed joint committee to investigate the brutal killings of civilians at Model Town, Lahore in August this year. Dr. Qadari has now prepared a schedule of his Jalsa’s (large gatherings) in various part of the country in the coming months. Apparently the political activity in the whole country is on its highest boiling point which prognosticates the possibility of midterm elections.
The recent decision by the special court dealing with the treason case of retired General Musharraf has provided not a sigh of relief only to the government, but also to Musharraf and the hierarchy of the Army. This decision may help patch up the obvious drift between Nawaz Sharif and the Army, for this case now may linger on and end with impunity for all those concerned.
With all these crisis’ the country seems be standing leaderless on a cross road and its people are eagerly and desperately looking for an honest, sincere, committed and more importantly, a patriotic leader to save the country from many perils it is faced with. One of the prerequisites for the country to move on a safe path could be to rid the country of mixing religion with politics. In order to avoid the current state of strife, violence, sectarianism and terrorism, the country should be declared a secular republic, otherwise there will always be a danger of dictatorship or self-destruction.