Ambassador Alam Brohi comments upon the sad state of affairs in the country
Hoping Against Hope – A country of 230 million people-endowed with rich natural resources, fertile lands, rivers, hardworking and resilient people, vast markets, strategic location, a long coastline, seaports, strong military strength, and economic potential-has been hijacked by a greedy elite masquerading as leaders who have been clawing bit by bit its flesh and making it hollow from within. They have been using all the levers of the state power not to extricate it from the multiple crises that have befallen it but to perpetuate their illegitimate capture of its resources abandoning all the pretensions of moral values, human rights, and democratic norms.
The lack of a proper, free and rule-based political governing system has played havoc with the evolution of a strong economy, and democratic and representative institutions in this country. The weak and managed political governments prone to manipulation by stronger institutions have added to the grievances of the country. The current political and economic crisis has glaringly exposed the weaknesses of the state. It looks as if the three organs of the state – Executive, Legislative and Judiciary- have begun working without any respect for their jurisdictions as defined by the Constitution.
No doubt, the Legislative has the privilege of legislation subject to constitutional provisions. A law passed by the legislative, if challenged on any count, is adjudicated by the Judiciary to determine whether or not it is compatible with the relevant constitutional provisions. The interpretation by the judiciary is final and binding on the legislative and executive. The PDM regime has been legislating whimsically on a number of subjects these past many months without willingly accepting the privilege of the judiciary to adjudicate these laws and has brazenly defied many verdicts of the apex court on frivolous pretexts. It has deliberately created disabling conditions to avoid the implementation of the judiciary’s verdict. The non-implementation of the Supreme Court’s verdict on the by-election in Punjab and KP on 14 May is a case in point. This example reflects very badly on our track record as a civilised nation.
The Supreme Court is currently seized with another sensitive matter – the court martial of civilians by military courts. The matter has been challenged by eminent jurists and a former top judge of the country. The executive is too overwhelmed by a consuming obsession to see the chairman of PTI and his followers going through the rigours of the military courts and receiving severe punishments. There would be over 100 civilians to be tried by the military courts. The PDM regime has been all out to stop the apex court from hearing these public petitions against the military courts. Two of the most senior Ministers of the PDM are on record to have stated that if the apex court suspended the proceedings in the military courts, they would not implement the judgment. Can this be imagined in any civilian and democratic dispensation? This theatric absurdity could only be possible in a country taken hostage by mafias.
Just before the vote on the budget in the depleted National Assembly, the Finance Minister imposed new taxes of some Rs.300 billion to comply with a condition of the IMF. These taxes will increase the inflation adding to the miseries of the populace. The ruling elite remains unaffected, unconcerned and unabashed. The extravagant overhead expenditure on their privileges was already too burdensome on the empty exchequer of the state. They keep on adding to this burden unabashedly. The Senate has almost unanimously passed a bill increasing manifold the entitlements of the incumbent and former chairmen of the upper house in terms of salary, security and travelling facilities. Social media is awash with cynic demands that the bill should include the expenses on the shroud, funeral, grave making and the post demise security of the chairmen.
All the legislators held back from the passage of the financial bill have been provided with a special plane to travel to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage. The President along with his family members and staff was part of this grand entourage. The Finance Minister said the legislators would foot the bill themselves. It is déjà vu. When there was a strong murmur about the excessive foreign tours of the Foreign Minister, it was claimed that the young Bilawal was himself bearing the expenses of his visits abroad. Later, the figures of the expenditure on foreign tours presented to the Public Accounts Committee by the Foreign Ministry showed that his foreign junkets had consumed Rs.4 billion from the state’s empty treasury. Would it be different in the case of these legislators?
What could be more disappointing than seeing your political leadership assembling in a third country to decide the destiny of your nation in terms of elections, political alliances, formation of interim administrations etc.? We kept on hearing of London Plans. Now comes the Dubai Plan. Our leaders are very innovative. The two senior political leaders will decide whether or not elections would be held at the end of the term of the current assemblies or advanced to a future date in 2024 in flagrant contravention of the Constitution. The brainy jurists in their attendance would exploit a legal loophole to make this look like a flawless constitutional measure. They are already well adept to defy any judicial verdict on this count.
We have already lost our honour and dignity becoming a laughing stock in the comity of nations. The geopolitical and strategic dynamics in the region and around it have been rapidly changing. Our archrival has become the fifth-largest economy and is aspiring to be the third one in the world. Its leadership contemptuously ignores Pakistan as the state dying under the weight of its follies. They know we have many skeletons in our closet. We are too deeply stuck in political and economic crises and unable for any course corrections. They have correctly measured the worth of our leadership. With the sane voices in the country muzzled in an atmosphere of awe and fear, we are helplessly left to hope against hope. May God bless this land. The Weekender