We have proved the adage, “Give a small man power and he will show you how small he is.” Small men with soiled halos hovering above their dyed heads infest every state institution. All suffer from public perceptions of impropriety and transgression. All engender distrust. They defy description. They challenge belief. Is this what we made Pakistan for, to hand it over to small, soiled men of questionable integrity while we wallow in misery? No, we did not. It’s about time we did something about it. If we can win liberty and change the course of history by making a country, we can certainly put it right.
Pomp and circumstance, panoply and paraphernalia, do not a big man make – motorcades, sirens, strobe lights, private planes, traffic stoppages, routes manned by endless police needed elsewhere, hysterical sycophants twittering, stooges wittering. Actually, they underline their smallness. A big man is big in mind, by deeds, by intentions. Small men are mental midgets where intellectual giants are needed, wily operators where statesmen are needed. Small men are blind too, for none can see what their families are up to. Should people so oblivious hold public office? They could unwittingly sell us down the drain. Or is it that relatives and cronies are front men and potential fall guys too if caught? These are big questions that need urgent answers to the exclusion of everything else if our country is to be saved from small men.
The result: confusion caused by contradictions and hypocrisy in our basic law. Our institutions are working against rather than with each another. Have you seen the Olympic Games logo, rings within rings? That is how state institutions are supposed to work, in tandem. Ours are like separate rings spinning and in their own orbits without any relation to one another, sometimes working to knock others out of their orbits. Thus we have meltdown. Everything is going to the dogs. Nothing is working. No basic needs, no jobs, rising prices, falling real incomes while our country is being attacked with impunity from within and without with small men helping the aggressors. It’s beyond belief.
Our attention is diverted by a flawed constitution that gives high officials immunity. Is that a license to elect or appoint the corrupt to public office? Will we do something about it or not?
Another question that needs an urgent answer if the judiciary is to be protected from its own: is there any link between the chief justice and property tycoon Riaz Malik through the chief justice’s son? If it is proved that there is, then we have a serious problem. A television programme and Malik’s press conference diverted attention from it, but temporarily. The question won’t go away and the sooner it is answered the better.
A frustrated people think that small men in office are the problem. A desperate people put faith in other small men formerly in office. Their messiahs of today were small men of yesterday and will be the small men of tomorrow. Salvation lies not in small people but in high principles, not in parties but in the basic law and the system it spawns. Keep concentrating on false messiahs for delivery and they will invariably show you once again what small men they are.
The problem is the disease. The disease is the constitution and the system it spawns. Small men are the symptoms the system spawns. How can you expect the symptoms to cure the disease, the spawn to kill its begetter? In so doing, they would destroy themselves. Mir kya saada hain, hoovay beemar jis kay sabab; ussi attar kay launday say dawa laitay hain – “Simpleton Mir, he looks for the cure in his disease.” Got it? Stop placing faith in small men and focus on correcting the system. If it is messiahs you want, then realise that a messiah lies in each one of us. Collectively we can make a tsunami if only we would unite over one issue – correcting the system and saving our country.
The constitution makes Pakistan an Islamic state. The constitution reflects the will of the people. It is the social contract in writing. Was this our social contract? If you don’t like it change it or make it work by being true to your ideology that has become your justification for existence and is the much-touted ‘spirit of your constitution’.
What a spectacle we’ve made about dual nationals holding public office. The answer should be obvious to the meanest mind, but our small men cannot see. Is it self-interest, perchance? No one with split loyalty should hold public office high or low, including in state-run corporations. Period. Even private secretaries, assistants and office boys of small men have access to sensitive files and information. This law shouldn’t apply only to parliamentarians but the executive too, the judiciary, civil and military bureaucracies and public sector enterprises. Can we trust dual nationals in them if they are up for privatisation and bidders are from their other country, or competitors for that matter?
It gets worse. We have the dangerous situation where a British national is a member of our National Command Authority. We have worked our butts off to make our nuclear assets safe. Our command and control is the best. Yet we let foreigners into it because they also hold Pakistani nationality. Ridiculous. By swearing oath of loyalty to another country they made their choice. They can’t have their cake and eat it too. Why can’t we make the obvious choice too, that people are welcome to split their loyalty provided they stay away from public office.
Judges demand sensitive government files? Can they hold dual nationality? Should they? How can military officers and bureaucrats be dual nationals when some of them have important strategies and policies in their laptops? Talk of sleeping with the enemy, this nonsense has to end if we are to be safe from those we consider solely our own with undiluted loyalties before we make ourselves safe from those we perceive as enemies.
The tamasha about writing a letter to the Swiss to reopen corruption cases against the president continues unabated. This is a prime example of small men not understanding the disease: remove as many prime ministers as you like, the new ones too will not write the letter. What you have to remove are not small men but the un-Islamic clause of immunity in the constitution. But what to do when the removers are small men too? To expect them to see the obvious when they cannot see what their own families are up to is asking for too much.
Why doesn’t our judiciary proceed with the case itself? Why pass the buck on to the Swiss? The Supreme Court did order a retrial. It won’t happen because the main accused is dead. If she cannot appear in court the case can’t proceed. Have you ever heard of anything more ridiculous? This law is an ass. It should be changed. That an accused has the option to be represented by council in absentia is enough. If dead, change the main accused. But get to the truth for God’s sake, not be diverted by spurious laws. In all this kerfuffle the main issue is forgotten, that Pakistan has lost millions of dollars that need to be returned and the thieves punished. We first pardon alleged thieves and send them to Saudi Arabia or withdraw cases against them – to much public acclaim, don’t forget – then make them president, prime minister, leaders in waiting and give them immunity. Then we howl over our sorry lot. What?
Does contempt of court exist in Islam? Libel, defamation and slander, yes: contempt of court, no. People have the right to decently criticise any judgment or judge about his extrajudicial activities. We are told that judges cannot be judged. Does whoever said this know about shirk – placing someone besides God?
Our basic law is the disease. Small men are its symptoms. The people are the host. The host is always the victim. It is our fault that we host the disease. We have to find a cure, and fast.
The writer is a political analyst. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org