The Prime Minister

Courtesy:- Mehr Tarar

May 27, 2012. Mr Yousaf Raza Gilani will become the longest serving prime minister in the history of Pakistan. Hallelujah. Pakistan, a proud democracy. After 65 years, 16 prime ministers (a couple of lifetime chairpersons of their respective parties served twice), four military dictators, six caretaker governments later, here we are. Doing our best, and sometimes even that ain’t enough to throw the incumbent off his democratically gained seat. Déjà vu? Time to let go of the pretence, presumably. We will not let any government serve its full tenure. Period. That is not part of our psyche, our conditioned personalities, and our conscious and subliminal knowledge. There is impatience, a misplaced anticipation, and an undignified rush to topple one and take his place. If a morally indignant and spiritually superior military general will not oust a civilian leader, why go through the agony of waiting for one? The pristine, untainted, dry-cleaned garbed — the pious ones — are all set to get rid of the beast, all the while letting go of the one simple truth. It is not their turn yet. The scratching and the scrambling and the shoving perseveres, nonetheless. Why?

Despite dishing out severe criticism and loud censure, the sensible ones believe in the sanctity of an institution. When millions of people vote someone into a position, they are the ones who have the power to take that position away. The sulking opposition do not have the moral or legal wherewithal to do so. The country is in a bad, bad condition today. The economy is a mess. Infrastructure is in shambles. Due to shoddy financial and other policies, the energy crisis has crippled life to the extent that everyone, with or without money, wants the present government to act now or pack up. Flimsy foreign policies make the country a fun punching bag for anyone worth his dollars, weapons sophistication and monetary sanctions. The alleged corruption scandals read longer than the long list of ministers and advisors who change portfolios quicker than the paint drying on the nameplates outside their offices. Instead of moving forward like the rest of the world — developed, developing, underdeveloped — this country is, incredibly, on a backward course. Things are worse than they ever were. What is the solution? Is it time to overthrow another government, or a little more patience is in order until it is time to vote again and let someone else come in — the democratic way?

The judiciary is active for once to cleanse the infamously lawless system. To redress many injustices many without a voice had to suffer for years, a number of positive steps have been taken. People are optimistic that the court of justice has become accessible and not all wrongs will remain hidden, unpunished. There is an air of positivity until that becomes indistinguishable from what stinks from inside. The power vested in one by the constitution of the country enables one to take power vested in the other by the same constitution of the same country. That is when things become messy. Truth blurs. The scale tilts. Whose interpretation is true? One judge becomes the arbiter of truth. The vice-chairperson of the biggest party is allegedly the one with the tag of being the most corrupt. The one representing him and the party and the majority of the voters becomes the scapegoat. The former duo squabble and the latter pleads, argues, reasons, fights, and finally, throws his hands in the air and stays — arms crossed, eyebrows knitted together, fists clenched, heels dug in firmly. The battle worsens, sickens, and inevitably, a war ensues. It is all out in the open now. Stripped of forced civility, and even basic decency — with nails sharpened, words poisoned, tongues venomous, allegations deadlier, defenders and accusers more vicious than ever — the two sides go into the arena. It is more sordid than ever. Who will be the winner? And consequently, a bigger loser?

When the party not in power talks or even shouts about the ‘evil’ government, it is justified. When its leadership, who has not been tried and tested the conventional way, highlights the undesirable, at least the finger pointed at everyone is free of grime. When the leader of that party chastises the other side for being pitiably impotent in its implementation of effective and workable opposition, there is no one to claim justifiably that it is unfair. The one talking about the change is doing what he set out to do — he points out the malaise in government and opposition and promises a 180-degree angle restructuring. He has every right to do so. He is clean. He brings about a political tsunami or he fails to make any waves — time will be the judge of that. Today, nonetheless, he has every right to tell all of them to quit. There are many who echo his sentiment, but who, one wonders, are they?

The righteous opposition is in action. It is the job of the ones in the opposition to oppose, but where does that stop? If every action of the incumbent government is criticised simply because it is the other side, then it all becomes irrelevant. If, since the so-called ally became the so-called opponent, there has been only one constant, then it becomes laughable. Go. The only word that the entire country heard in the last four years. The invariable repetition became so monotonously ineffectual because of its illogical and juvenile reasoning that even some of the ones saying it started looking for a replacement. The twice overthrown party — the party in opposition — has not learned anything from its own past. It does not feel good to be accused of wrongdoings. It does not feel good not to be given a chance to speak up in your defence. It does not feel good to be found guilty without a trial. And it certainly does not feel good — at all — to be thrown out of your democratically won office. Why is there then the persistence to do to others about which you have nightmares yourself even today?

The court convicts. The public is divided. The opponents rejoice. The media postulate. The government looks the other way. The chairperson of the biggest opposition party snickers and refuses to acknowledge the accused as the number one executive power of the country. His brother, the head of the biggest province, refuses to give constitutional protocol to the president of the country. The leader of the opposition in parliament very sagaciously and democratically threatens physical expulsion of the leader of the house from the hallowed building if he enters. Seriously? These are adults. Representatives of the people. Our country is on a one-way ticket to hell. Yet, they talk like teenagers during a rowdy football match, with their non-performing grammar, and their little boy antics. The world is ready to boycott us and we cannot stand to allow an elected prime minister have his due process of justice. The leaders on the other side know they would not have written the letter either. No one would have. The immunity clause stands and the debate goes on. The country may fall apart but first let us all tear one another to pieces. The miscreants must be punished, but the undignified flurry to see it all happen in one day resembles the sub-plot of a c-grade film. The wise, sane voices in the media, intelligentsia, civil society and even politics know that there is more to all this moralistic uproar than what reaches tired minds. And it is what we do all too well and all too often: let nobody work in peace.

There is no sanctity of any institution. When all your actions — right or wrong — face the same response, your sense of judgment goes hazy too. When most of the opposition cannot even address you as per your constitutional stature, then why the expectation that you would follow what their interpretation of the constitution is? When you are jeered even when you try to do the right thing, why would you even fake decorum for the other’s actions? When all your efforts to do good are scorned because you have been labelled corrupt, why the hope you would remain civilised? When all you hear from your sore opposition is one word, why would you care about what they say, really? The one awful, inchoate word. Go.


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