Moral courage RIP

I have often written about faults in our National Character and have been severely criticised for doing so by some. I am prepared to grant these critics the benefit by saying that their reaction is a manifestation of patriotic fervour. I must however add that unless we learn to take a good look at the ugliness that plagues our individual and collective character, we will never be able to correct ourselves in order to grow strong, prosperous and able to draw respect as Pakistanis from the rest of the World.

One of the festering sores in our National Psyche is the utter lack of moral courage. An example of which, is amply manifested in the case of the three Election Tribunal verdicts that hit the headlines during the past few months. While these verdicts did not indict the PML-N luminaries for malpractices, they declared the results of the three constituencies challenged by PTI invalid on account of gross procedural irregularities and omissions by officials representing the Election Commission. By all moral standards, once the incompetence of this Commission to ensure credible polls was established not by one, but three courts of law, there remained no reason for its members to continue clinging desperately to their offices. While the image of those responsible to plan and conduct free and fair elections received a serious setback, their failure to step down honourably will further besmirch their reputation.

The members of Parliament from the ruling party, two out of which, held critically important portfolios, accepted the Tribunal’s decision, but also decided to challenge the same in the Supreme Court. I am aware that they did so in exercise of their Constitutional Rights, but if the decisions had been accepted (which by implication deemed them correct and accepted) then why was the challenge initiated in the Apex Court (which by a second implication deemed them wrong and unacceptable). I must however admit (with a bit of admiration) that out of the three effected individuals, the reaction of Mr. Ayaz Sadiq was the most dignified and becoming of his stature. According to a politically aware friend of mine (who frequently indulges in hatching theories), this was perhaps due to Mr. Sadiq’s training at the Pakistan Military Academy. Whatever be the reasons, I wish that other politicians take a cue from the man, who has generated nothing, but respect for himself even amongst his detractors.

The PPP Leadership in Pakistan (under direction from across the seas) is saying things that appears more like standup comedy script. Their hue and cry laced with dire threats of waging war is all about linking the party with terrorism. Does this imply that PPP is ready and willing to accept charges of mega corruption? If this be so then such corruption can be technically lumped under the umbrella of terror, as it puts citizens, without connections in the right places or money, under economic and social pressure (read threat). I am constrained in the spirit of true journalism to agree with PPP to the extent that the hand of retribution should also land upon those Ruling Party big wigs, who have been exposed by the media for ethical misdemeanors. This will be a test of moral courage for the Prime Minister.

A few days ago, a land cruiser with an MPA number plate and darkened windows was allowed to get through a police barrier on Jinnah Avenue, while a car, a few vehicles behind the VIP was stopped and its coloured paper stripped by the cops. The men in blue did not have the moral courage to mete out the same treatment to the MPA, perhaps for fear that his over sensitised rights (istehqaq) would have been damaged. This raises the question whether the rights of a legislator override those of an ordinary citizen of Pakistan?

Finally some good news. Reports indicate that effects of economic policies instituted by the PML N regime have begun trickling down to the public. According to available statistics (not from Government sources), prices of daily commodities have shown a downward trend.

I am not getting into the issue of, who is calling the shots in steering Pakistan through its ongoing issues, but whoever is calling the shots is doing a good job and he has the prayers of the entire nation behind him.

S Tariq

The writer is a freelance columnist

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