May Issue 2012

By | Editorial | News & Politics | Opinion | Published 12 years ago

The war of words between the PML-N and the PPP has erupted again, and the choicest abuses are being hurled back and forth. Interior Minister Rehman Malik refers to the Sharif brothers as “robbers”; the opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan returns the compliment by calling Malik a “swindler.”

What is getting lost in this unsavoury crossfire is the fact that tons of files “exposing” the alleged misdemeanours of both the country’s leading parties are gathering dust in the city courts, NAB and elsewhere. But despite all the records and the muckraking, the accused have, in almost all the instances, managed to throw off these allegations and emerge unscathed. What’s more, it’s now become common practice to brand all attempts to bring politicians to justice as “political victimisation” — or worse, a “derailment of democracy.”

Should a Supreme Court verdict be rubbished at the altar of the people’s mandate (“awam ki adalat” as the politicians refer to it)?

Why should any attempt to expose corruption at the top be viewed as an attempt to subvert the mandate of the people or derail democracy? Surely the voters have not given their leaders a mandate to indulge in corruption.

On the contrary, they have watched with distress and disdain the rise in the fortunes of the ruling clique, while their own fortunes plummet. From travelling in 1000cc cars, the public representatives are now owners of swish Mercs, Humvees, Lexuses and Prados — vehicles registered in their children or wives’ names, vehicles they claim were gifted by some generous friend stationed in Dubai or elsewhere. Stories abound of kickbacks, bribes and hefty fees (Rs80 lakhs plus according to one source — and that’s chicken feed compared to what others coughed up) for granting a potential investor an audience with the top guns of the country.

The stories come straight from the horse’s mouth — but the horses are unwilling to go on record for fear of being blacklisted or persecuted.

Meanwhile, those who’ve actually been accused of receiving the booty are merrily spilling the beans on each other even as the country hurtles from one crisis to another. Circumstances demand that the warring politicians hold their tongues and get down to the business of what they’ve been elected to do by the mandate of the people: DELIVER.

The Sharif brothers need to undertake a long march on the road to development. And maybe invite Zardari and Gilani to walk alongside.


This editorial originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Newsline.

Rehana Hakim is one of the core team of journalists that helped start Newsline. She has been the editor-in-chief since 1996.