It can happen only in Pakistan and that too in the name of democracy. A politician accused of billions rupees worth of money laundering and holding assets beyond known sources of income gets elected as the 23rd prime minister on April 11 — the same day he was supposed to get formally indicted in a corruption case. Yes, Shehbaz Sharif’s rise to the coveted slot of prime minister-ship adds another dark chapter to the country’s checkered history and explains why many Pakistanis do not have faith in the parliament and the constitution as they both can be so easily manipulated and in many cases fail to prevent the rise of the corrupt to the top positions.
And to rub more salt to the wound, and add insult to the injury on the collective conscience of Pakistanis, on April 16, Hamza, who was also supposed to be indicted in a massive corruption case along with his father, Shehbaz, gets himself elected as chief minister Punjab in a controversial vote.
Both Shehbaz and Hamza got their dubious majority in the National and Punjab assemblies respectively by buying votes of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmakers and engineering their allies to change loyalties. Neither the constitution’s anti-defection law nor the learned higher judiciary, which in select cases, could open shops in a bizarre and unprecedented manner on a Sunday and that too at midnight, could stop the buying and selling of lawmakers or ensure any action against them.
What does it mean? The system is too weak, too helpless to ensure the rule of law and prevent the super-rich corrupt politicians from having their way.
The second disturbing fact that has been highlighted because of the rise of the father-son duo is the suffocating grip of dynastic politics. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) — the second largest party — has no other faces to present for key positions other than those belonging to the Sharif clan.
If in the past, the two Sharif brothers held the coveted positions of PM and CM Punjab and appointed their other close relatives or lackeys on important slots, this time it is the father and the son. The veterans within the ranks of the PML-N are only there to play second-fiddle to the house of Sharifs.
The same is the problem with the Pakistan People’s Party which is run by the Zardari clan, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islami by Maulana Fazl-ur Rehman & family, and the most other smaller political, religious and sub-nationalist parties.
At the constituency level, a recent study has revealed that almost 60 per cent of the national and provincial assemblies’ seats are dynastic.
This acceptance of corruption and the rule of dynasties explains the dilemma of Pakistani democracy, which in its essence remains anti-people, corrupt to the core and inefficient.
Readers can log-on to https://narratives.com.pk/featured/not-yet-off-the-hook/ to read in detail how Shehbaz and his family indulged in billions of rupees worth of money laundering through the bank accounts operated in the names of their lower staff members, and even a paparwala, and some hawker.
No wonder, the first thing Shehbaz did after coming to power was to get those officers who investigated corruption cases against him and his family transferred. Soon the entire Sharif clan is expected to get a clean chit through manipulation of the investigation, prosecution and the judiciary system. This is what we call democracy Pakistani style.