LAHORE - There’s a famous saying: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
The PML-N leaders, after ‘winning’ the May 11 general elections, appear to have lost rationality and are behaving like ‘conquerors’, forgetting the fact that they had a bigger mandate in 1999 when their government was overthrown and the Sharifs were banished to Saudi Arabia.
The dismissal of NADRA Chairman Tariq Malik at midnight strengthens the impression that ruling party apprehended that the electoral fraud in various constituencies could be exposed. Otherwise, there was no reason to summon him to Lahore and, after the failure of talks with him, fire him at a time when only emergency decisions are taken.
According to a report, NADRA headquarters was opened at 1.30am to issue a notification, terminating the services of Mr Malik and nominating an acting chairman.
The NADRA chairman was in Lahore when the notification was issued and it was delivered at his residence in Islamabad. However, his wife refused to receive the document.
According to a published report, NADRA was verifying the election results of the National Assembly constituency NA-118 (Lahore), from where PML-N leader Riaz Hussain Malik had won. Some other constituencies of top PML-N leaders were also in line, including those of National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Railway Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
A three-strong “bunch” of PML-N leaders met the NADRA chairman and, reportedly, told him not to cooperate with the election tribunal in verifying the results of the said constituency. They feared that if rigging in this constituency was exposed, pressure would be mounted by opponents to have the results of other important constituencies reviewed as well. And this the ruling party could not afford at this juncture.
The NADRA chairman, it is said, was also given the option of resigning so that his successor could be told what he should do in the given situation.
Tariq Malik did not succumb to the pressure, and was fired late at night.
Although the Islamabad High Court has suspended the dismissal order and the matter would again come up for hearing after a week, the rulers would use all possible methods to get rid of the ‘persona non grata’. Even if the dismissal order is conclusively set aside by the court, the government will not tolerate Tariq Malik as NADRA chairman.
The way the Sharifs are behaving during their third term in office amply shows that they have learnt nothing from their bitter past experience. And those who believed that this time they would behave differently and deliver would have to face serious embarrassment because of their gross miscalculation.
Although the PML-N government is into the six month of its current tenure, it has failed on almost all fronts.
The NAB chairman, chosen through consultations between the ruling party and the opposition PPP, did not have an unblemished record. Because of his controversial role in the appointment of NICL chief, the apex court has ordered investigations against him, as a result of which he has proceeded on leave. The accountability process, which was already a non-starter, has come to a halt. (The PML-N and the PPP leaders facing various cases are ecstatic because of a paralysed NAB).
A senior bureaucrat, appointed as the chairman of a committee set up to choose the heads of more than two dozen public sector enterprises, has also proceeded on leave on account of his alleged role in the same NICL issue.
While this committee is unable to function in the absence of its chief, the prime minister himself has started taking decisions.
According to a report, the prime minister rejected seven names proposed by the relevant authorities plus the Establishment Division and appointed a junior official of his own choice as head of the Utility Stores Corporation.
Another published report says that the role of the Establishment Division has been reduced to that of a post office and the prime minister’s ‘whims’ are conveyed to the relevant quarters with instructions to implement them. Through this system, the prime minister gets done what he wants.
In the foreseeable future, the committee is expected to stay non-functional, and the prime minister will have a free hand to appoint any Tom, Dick and Harry against all vacant positions.
Is it not very strange that while even a peon is appointed through a procedure, those using billions of rupees of the public money will be chosen by the prime minister alone? There can’t be more effective way of destroying the system.
The way the decisions are being taken has raised questions about the character of the political system in practice in Pakistan. Although the constitution calls it parliamentary, in fact it is monarchy. Only monarchs take decisions the way our prime minister does.
A senior political analyst has a convincing argument: A man who has decades of experience in melting steel and molding it into a particular shape will have little difficulty bending rules and regulations according to his personal whims.