Stop Kissing Hands And Touching Feet
By Naeem Sadiq
Good lawyers are often judged by their stance when they run out of truth as well as legal arguments at the same time. Many tend to fall back on theatrics, histrionics, distortion and even poetry assupplements to beef up the deficiency in the main menu. Barrister Aitzaz however touched new heights of judicial decadence when he pleaded that notwithstanding the offence, his client being a 'pir' and a 'gaddi nashin' be treated differently from other ordinary citizens. Mercifully he did not demand that the seven judges come down from their raised platform to kiss the hands and touch the feet of the accused even before beginning to hear the first argument.
Coming from someone considered a leading lawyer and a champion of democracy, such an undemocratic and dynastic statement reflects the true reality of the nature of politics and society in Pakistan. It confirms that the change that an average Pakistani is looking forward to is surely not around the bend. Not only that the voter is inextricably bound in the chains of the landlord, the 'Pir', the 'Gaddi Nashin', the 'Sardars', the 'Biradari', the sectarian and the ethnic influence but the ruling classes are equally united in their manipulations to sanctify these undemocratic and dynastic institutions.
In an apparently unrelated incident, a totally disgusted and disappointed acid victim Fakhra committed suicide by jumping from her 6th floor apartment in Rome. Ironically her suicide comes in the wake of the new acid throwing legislation in Pakistan and Chinoy's Oscar winning film 'saving face'. Clearly neither the laws nor 'Saving Face' could save the face or the life of Fakhra. Our focus lies only in awards, ceremonies and seminars, and not on putting an end to the tragedies displayed in the film. Somewhere in the Bar Rooms, a yet another worthy barrister must be getting ready to defend the rich acid-thrower Bilal Khar. After all, Khar is the scion of a powerful political dynasty of the landed 'waderas' of Pakistan, and cannot be equated with those petty street acid-slingers.
Pakistan is caught in a time warp and the prognosis is not entirely cheerful. Its masses have been kept too backward, poor and uneducated to go beyond the dotted line and its ruling cartel too happy to exploit its monopoly. The second and third generation of the ruling elite is being groomed to take over and prove that their elders were novices in the art of plunder. The educated professional class is happy to sit on the sidelines as it can have all the fun without sharing any responsibility. When sufficiently motivated it could even invent new jurisprudence on why a 'Pir' should not be punished.
So where do we go from here. Is there a political party that is willing to be the party of the ordinary people. One that is willing to nominate no candidate who is a 'sardar, 'wadera', 'pir' or whose claim to fame is his political or spiritual lineage. Pakistanis should not expect reforms from leaders who are unwilling to reform themselves or their parties. Those who proceed abroad for medical treatment (at the state expense) in specially chartered aeroplanes are not likely to spend much time on improving the local hospitals. Likewise those whose hands are kissed and feet are touched by the mindless millions are not likely to exhibit a democratic or egalitarian behavior.
It is astonishing that the educated elite of Pakistan is ever so ready to defend the swampy cesspool, but not willing to organize and push for much needed reforms. These are urgently needed in the dynastic and 'bhatta collecting' political parties, the atrophied Election Commission, the non-functional educational system and the tortoisian justice system, to name a few. The parties must declare that henceforth they will not accept candidates who use titles like 'Sajjada Nashin', 'Pir', 'Makhdoom', 'Sardar', 'Gaddi Nashin', 'Wadera' etc, or those who receive 'offerings' and 'nazranas'. Their candidates will not have fake degrees, will not collect 'bhatta', will not be dual nationals and will voluntarily surrender all weapons that they hold.
The Election Commission could learn a lesson or two from its Indian counterpart. How come the civil society accepted the 37 million fake-vote election without batting an eyelid or without demanding accountability or overhaul of the electoral process. Clearly the educated, rich and the powerful segment of the civil society has sided with the 'status quo' by refusing to grow out of its 5 star, foreign funded seminar mode or to push for reforms and accountability. Not protesting to eliminate the root causes (such as official proliferation of weapons) and hoping to achieve peace through candlelit vigils is neither rational nor likely to make the dead horse gallop again.