DIRE STATES - AFTER TUNISIA, YEMEN, EGYPT...PAKISTAN?
By Rabia Ahmed | Published: February 6, 2011
Yusuf Raza Gilani
You have to laugh at our Prime Minister, or else you weep. Few people can turn the demon of corruption so completely on its head so as to present it as an angel; one has to be either very shrewd or a complete twerp to do this, and since I refuse to accuse Mr. Gilani of being shrewd, I am not left with much choice. Or should I address my comments to whoever writes the Prime Minister’s speeches for him? I mean he obviously doesn’t himself…he can barely read them, the dear man.
The situation in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, is making people’s hair curl, and they hasten to set a distance between them. It was in this context that Mr. Yusuf Raza Gilani said, when questioned about similarities between these countries, that Pakistan, which unlike Egypt and Tunisia is a democracy complete with elections, presented no resemblance to these others.
As proof of Pakistan being a democracy he pointed to the fact that many of its elected rulers were facing, or had faced charges of corruption. In the Prime Minister’s lexicon, this is positive proof, as it indicates that our rulers are accountable, whereas in a dictatorship people never stand accused of anything.
He continued, boasting that Z.A. Bhutto, Junejo, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif all faced corruption charges, as did the chief justice, adding that Ministers from his own government were currently facing corruption charges, while in the past, it was only members of the opposition who were placed in this position.
This cunning logic! It’s not just the opposition, but the government and judiciary of Pakistan itself that is accused of corruption. We’re never going to join the ranks of Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, because we’re a lot better than them.
Some things were of course not mentioned; the fact that the President of Pakistan faces charges of mind boggling corruption and theft from the national exchequer, and the fact that two organisations owned by the Prime Minister’s wife were granted loans worth Rs200 million, which, with interest and default of payment for more than ten years became Rs570 million. These loans were eventually settled by a payment of a mere Rs45.5 million, while the rest of the amount was written off.
None of these pillars of democracy have as yet repaid the money they owe.
Mr. Gilani went on to lay the state of the country’s economy squarely at the door of world recession, the war on terror, load shedding, the floods, Barbie’s hairstyle, Harry Potter’s wand, and Mickey Mouse’s long and dangerous tail.
Meanwhile, the country continues to face an inflation of possibly as much as 16 percent this year.
To issue complacent calls for revolution (and extra provinces) is best left to people like Altaf Hussain. The rest of Pakistan is hopefully better aware of the bloodshed this would result in, and the tragic repercussions to a country that has nothing further to offer at the altar of destruction. There might still be time for Pakistan’s leaders to stick their heads out of their ivory towers and take measures to prevent a similar wave of unrest taking place here, as has suddenly deluged the Middle East.
It is very likely that the riots in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt will travel east to Pakistan, given that the semblance between these countries is shockingly close. (It is sad that parallels with Pakistan are to be found each time in such ‘dire states’).
Years of resentment of unresponsive governance, high cost of living, and unemployment fuelled riots in Tunisia, in response to which the Tunisian President Zine Al-Abedine made lavish promises of various reforms to pacify his people. However it was too little too late and President Abedine’s twenty-three year tenure ended in January 2011 with his deposition.
In Yemen and Egypt, similar dissatisfaction with their governments, or plain unhappiness with the lack of democracy and responsiveness and rampant corruption has caused people to spill onto the streets, demanding removal of their leadership. In each case lives have been lost, and property destroyed.
Even Pakistan’s greatest supporter cannot claim that the current government of this country is stable, or a responsive one, or fail to notice that people have been praying for change for a while. I am sure the Prime Minister alone finds it an index of religiosity to see people brought to their knees everywhere he looks.
Also, most people know that there is not much religiosity in Pakistan, despite assertions to the contrary.
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