Political urchins and the Pakistan cake

A new dimension has been added to Pakistan's political scene by the entrance of the Lebanese-born widow of Murtaza Bhutto, Ghinwa, into an already chaotic situation.

Ghinwa told a press conference that she was accepting the leadership of the Shaheed Bhutto Party for the sake of restoring the party to its original aims and ideals.

As she spoke, the Pakistan Peoples Party Central Executive Committee warned that the presidential system threatens Pakistan's integrity. It termed as "unconstitutional" and "illegal" the dismissal of Benazir and dissolution of the National assembly.

The Pakistan Peoples Party is crying itself hoarse by talking of "illegal acts", "conspiracy against the nation", "danger to the federation" and what not. However, most Pakistanis now have seen through the facade of what has been described by neutral political observers as the "most corrupt, inefficient and pathetic" government Pakistan has ever had.

Even the Babu prime ministers of the 1950s were better, said an astute observer of Pakistani politics. The socio-economic structure of Pakistan has collapsed - almost beyond repair. Lawlessness, violence and death prevail in almost every city.

In the land of the "Paak" (peace), innocent worshippers are gunned down mercilessly. Kidnappings and rapes of those belonging to opposing political parties reach unprecedented heights. The fabric that held Pakistan together is ripped apart.

On the economic front there is no ray of hope. The economy has taken a nose-dive. Inflation is at its highest. Foreign exchange resources are at their lowest.

The man on the street is bewildered and hurt. Pakistan has become a nation of orphans. Devoid of leadership, lacking in cohesion, slipping fast into chaos and confusion, it cut a sorry figure on the world stage.

A prime minister speaking of democracy and women's rights and a myopic condition preventing her from observing the road to destruction had to be stopped. And it was her own political ally Farooq Leghari who scented disaster and blew the whistle, reining in her government and trying to put the country back on track.

Leghari is on record as stating that the election will not be delayed for a day. And people believe him. He has no vested interest in delaying the elections. Pakistan is already in turmoil and there is no room left for further political anarchy.

The Pakistan Peoples Party which is already losing ground due to schisms and bitter in-fighting aims to keep afloat through its usual tactics - disturbances and strikes.

The opposition too is gearing up for battle. The various factions of the Muslim League, the religious parties, the splinter groups are all getting ready to join the melee. It seems that the country is like a large cake and the political parties are like hungry urchins rushing to grab and bite what they can.

What has brought Pakistan to this sorry state of anarchy and rampant corruption?

Many answer by pointing the finger at Benazir and her Pakistan Peoples Party. She has been accused of overlooking her husband's corruption, nepotism and massive human rights violations.

Many people believed that with a woman at the helm of affairs, calm would prevail in the country. However, it was the opposite and more blood flew in the streets of cities across the country than ever before.

Her husband Assef Zardari dubbed Mr. Ten Percent had his nick name changed to Mr. Forty Percent after his appointment as the minister for investments.

Many who know Benazir were astonished at the appointment of her incompetent husband to such a strategic post. What was more scary to the people of Pakistan was the complete lack of focus on the economy. In her speeches the prime minister always spoke of "conspiracies, "unseating of the government", "danger to democracy". Unlike the prime ministers of South East Asian countries whose rhetoric is filled with economic plans and targets, Benazir found it hard to focus on the economic front.

This spelled doom for an already sinking country. It has been the unfortunate legacy of Pakistan that politics has superseded economics. This has been also because political power gives political parties and their members a strong economic and financial leverage.

They get unguaranteed loans, industrial licenses, free land and can make tens of foreign trips at taxpayers' purposes.

Thus one observes that the system in Pakistan has become graft-ridden and shaky to the core.

No political party can commend national trust. People have become parochial, regional and clannish. That is why these non-regional parties have sprung up.

And what is more unfortunate there is no national figure commanding respect who can help patch up this torn country.

Some speak of Pakistan's cricketing hero Imran Khan. They believe he can rescue Pakistan.

But Pakistan is not Lords and Imran who had a hard time getting an errant Pakistani cricketing team together, would find it much more difficult to play on the sticky wicket that is Pakistan.

The people of Pakistan are praying for a savior. Well-wishers of the country hope their prayers will be answered soon.

  Category: World Affairs
  Topics: Government And Politics, Pakistan, Pakistan Peoples Party
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