“May you live in interesting times” is a famous Chinese curse. Unfortunately, today it applies to the land of the pure. Without morality, there can be no politics. Those who control the levers of power must follow strict codes of service to the people, not their exploitation, as has been the case in the last four decades.

After the entry of businessmen in the political arena, both sides have suffered. Conflict of interest, honesty and integrity have been replaced with greed and self-interest. Ideology has become a thing of the past. Most national institutions have become non-functional, mafia groups have taken control.

The recent no-confidence motion against an elected Prime Minister (PM) is a manifestation of moral bankruptcy in politics. Currently there is a coalition government at the centre and Punjab, the largest province of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

For the no-confidence motion to be successful, the opposition needs the support of 172 elected representatives in the National Assembly (NA). In the presence of the defection clause in the constitution, the menace of floor crossing has been contained to some extent. When moral standards of the society are lowered, the glitter of gold outshines the light of conscience.

Despite the defection clause, the opposition then went after the elected members of the ruling party. About a dozen of them were found in the Sindh House. As Islamabad is federal territory, it has assigned places for each federating unit. Balochistan House is located on the intersection of the Assembly Secretariat on the main thoroughfare while Punjab, Sindh, KP and Azad Kashmir are on the road behind.

Most MNAs found in the Sindh House were from Punjab, a place in the capital reserved for our brothers from Sindh. Amongst the opposition parties, only Pakistan People’s Party has a provincial government, while the others (PML-N, JUI-F) find themselves out of the corridors of power.

In the land of the pure, financial crimes remain unpunished. The bench, bar and the prosecution all lack the capacity to convict the financially corrupt. This bounty of immoral politics is then laundered to buy expensive real estate mostly around Marble Arch in London.

In 1979, when I saw the place for the first time, there were no Pakistani property owners in the area; now there are dozens of them. Property records can be checked to determine ownership. In the West, it is widely believed that property owners are sitting ducks that can be easily hunted down by the Tax Authorities. I am sure they are all paying heavy amounts in taxes on the looted wealth of a poor nation.

Till 1985, corruption in politics was contained. The flood gates were opened with the entry of immoral businessmen into the political arena. Businesses operate through opportunities to make money, while politics is based on service to the people. The intermingling of the two has resulted in the politics of immorality which has to be checked.

Till the current democratic dispensation, it was widely believed that ‘There is no business, like show business’ now, it is pertinent to say that ‘There is no business more lucrative than politics.’

 

Dr Farid A Malik

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation, email: fmaliks@hotmail.com