Kings and Queens of democracy

by Jalees Hazir   

Nation July 04.

Hiding behind a veil of convoluted democracy, President Zardari and his courtesans would like to impose a feudal order on the State of Pakistan. The veil is too flimsy though, and it hides nothing. In fact, as the issue of fake degrees becomes bigger, and the statements of PPP leaders on the subject become more and more absurd, the divide between the democratic aspirations of an awakened nation and the fossilised mindset of the ruling party is becoming more obvious by the day.

Chanting hypocritical mantras of democracy, the PPP leadership has consistently shown a contempt for law since it assumed power. It has tried to create an impression that democracy is like a title intrinsically glued to their persons and party regardless of their undemocratic actions. The PPP would like the people of Pakistan to put aside every value that underlines the concept of democracy, and swallow every bitter pill of the many trespasses of its leadership in its name. The question is: Can there be democracy without the rule of law?

Clearly, there is no sense in electing a Parliament if the laws it makes are of no value and those entrusted with their implementation flout them. Do the rich and poor people of Pakistan pay for the salaries and perks of the law-makers just to see them look pretty in the cushy sofas of the assemblies? Does the PPP think that it can polish up its democratic credentials by evoking the memory of its slain leaders and the sacrifices of its workers? Does it think that it could confuse the nation by lying through its teeth and propagating an untagged paranoia about dangers to democracy? Fortunately, its trickery is not working.

Rule of law is the biggest hurdle in the way of PPP’s feudal agenda. The party’s government that now shamelessly claims the credit for the restoration of an independent judiciary took the step only when it was left with no other option. After beating about the bush for months, its puppet Prime Minister announced the restoration once it became clear that the hectic illegal efforts of its Interior Ministry and the barricades it had erected could not stop the flood of citizens marching to their citadels. Does the PPP think that the people of Pakistan have forgotten how the President broke written agreements and, along with his cunning legal team, argued for the continuation of the Dogar court? The televised address in the early hours of the morning was a vindication of the power of the people against democracy-spouting impostors who acted upon the popular demand only to save their government and skins.

So why was the PPP government so allergic to the notion of restoring an independent judiciary? For the same reason that a despotic wadera is allergic to allowing anyone who could check his unbridled authority to do as he pleases in his fiefdom. And it is this mindset that the PPP must discard before it can even begin to lay any claims to democracy. After all, the most important aspect of democracy is the rule of law and you cannot run a democracy on the whims of individuals who have nothing but contempt for it. The first step towards democracy is to accept the supremacy of law and constitution and to agree to play by the rules. Of course, the rules, the laws, and even the constitution, could be changed through democratic means. But that is very different from subverting them.

The conduct of the government since the restoration speaks much louder than its hollow pronouncements championing democracy and feigning a respect for law. As its Law Minister with a dubious doctorate goes around the country in a chartered airplane distributing funds among the lawyers community in the most controversial manner, and other PPP ministers parrot the presidential line about fake degrees, the pseudo-democratic government’s fight against the independence of judiciary has come out in the open. The malicious term of judicial dictatorship is being thrown around. The ill-advised political statement of the Lahore High Court Chief Justice is being used to malign an entire institution that is seen as attempting to keep a check on the illegal affairs of the government. Obviously, the PPP has not been cured of its allergy to an independent judiciary and it has chosen to fight it with retrogressive feudal rhetoric and tactics.

In its attempt to retain and strengthen the feudal character of its government, the PPP has pitted a perverse concept of democracy against the rule of law. Posing as the custodian of democracy, it paints any effort to check illegalities and moral or financial corruption of its leaders as a conspiracy against democracy. Their logic is simple: PPP equals democracy. And because it has crowned itself thus, its leaders are not answerable for their misdeeds, be it forgery or robbery, corruption or murder. The kings and queens of democracy are above the law and the people of Pakistan should behave like loyal unquestioning subjects paying homage to their greatness and sacrifices, believing every lie they tell, and waiting obediently for the next elections when the baton will be passed on to the princes and princesses of democracy.

A rude shock awaits the entire royalty of democracy whose only interest seems to be guarding their seat till 2013. The veil they hide behind is too flimsy, and the people of Pakistan are not blind. They can see the yawning chasm between the words and deeds of these democracy-spouting impostors who consider power and leadership an inherited right to be exploited for personal interests rather than a duty to serve those in whose name they govern. The people are not deaf. They can hear the hollowness of their arguments and the insincere tone of their high-pitched voices that seek to cover up their crimes. And most importantly, the people of Pakistan are neither dumb nor stupid. They are not fooled by this democratic drama and know that they do not have to wait for 2013 to speak.

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