Contradictions galore in Pakistan

Pakistan is a land of contradictions. It also boasts disgusting aberrations, a country which eschews closure of issues with cancerous trappings. We teach merit and respect for rule of law — an endless top-down pontification.

But a glance at the top reveals only the opposite: on April 19, as many as 34 ministers took oath under Article 92(2) of the Constitution.

Let us first see what the Constitution says about the oath of the Prime Minister and his associates. Both the Article 91 on the oath of the Prime Minister (91) and 92(2) contain more or less similar commitments.

“I will discharge my duties, and perform my functions, honestly, to the best of my ability, faithfully in accordance with the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the law, and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of Pakistan … That I will preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan …”

But lo and behold. About two dozen of the ministers are on bail, including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif himself. His son, Chief Minister-designate, too, is on bail in a couple of money-laundering cases. Regardless of the nature of the cases these honourable ministers are implicated in, they remain “accused” in the eye of the law. Can an accused become prime minister, chief minister or member of the respective cabinet — that too in criminal cases?

Even more upsetting for the common citizens is the constant pontification by these high and mighty on the virtues of rule of law and adherence to merit and transparency.

Then comes the issue of merit and the way federal ministries have been distributed: Abdul Qadir Patel has replaced Dr Faisal Sultan, and that’s quite a shame to compare credentials of the new minister and his predecessor.

Mr Prime Minister, can we have a profile of Mr Patel? What a fall from grace! Perhaps not a source of embarrassment at all for Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, whose sole objective had been to force out Imran Khan.

And look who replaced the fiery, at times loud-mouthed Murad Saeed? Maluana Asad Mehmood, the son of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, to head the milking cow i.e. the communication ministry.

Mehmood’s profile, as seen on the National Assembly website, is probably the simplest of all 342 members. It only features name and sir name; party affiliation; and present and permanent addresses — and nothing at all as regards his area of expertise or any professional experience other than being a politician son of a politician father.

The re-entry on April 19 and denotification on April 21 of Tariq Fatemi from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is another aberration in the 21st century. After Fatemi had lived a full diplomatic career, Nawaz Sharif had appointed him as his special adviser on foreign affairs but sacrificed him on 29 April 2017 in the aftermath of the enquiry report on the infamous “Dawn Leaks”. Did Shehbaz forget Fatemi’s dismissal under pressure from the GHQ in April 2017 or was it an attempt to find his own way on an issue that had incensed the military establishment then?

What do you make of Ambassador Masood Khan’s reappointment as envoy to Washington? Having lived an eventful diplomatic life, Khan served a full five year term as President of AJK but he still “accepted” appointment as Ambassador to the USA in November last year.

Same is the case with Munir Akram, the life-time permanent envoy at the United Nations.

One wonders why would these retired officers — all of them true professionals in their own right — agree to block younger officers’ way up to important postings? How would they feel if they were superseded? Or are we expecting too much on the character and integrity front in Pakistan?

Isn’t it social regression that goes against the globally accepted norm of introducing fresh blood with greater energies for effective governance and diplomacy?

The new cabinet stitched together by PM Shehbaz represents, perhaps, the biggest aberration today. Once the no-trust motion was moved on March 7, the dozen or so parties knew they will force Imran Khan out but they initiated no work on cabinet formation — and hence embarrassment in cases of Mohsin Dawar, Ali Wazir, Tariq Fatemi and Ehsan Mazari.

Ishaq Dar represents another aberration. An absconder by law who did not take oath after his election to the Senate, the former finance minister is set to return to the upper house of parliament and join the team.

Looks like brute ad hocism and calibrated baby-sitting is fully at work, leaving little space for thoughtless, self-serving decisions. National leaders shall have to stop to be delusional and be more matter-of-fact than inventing fictions only to malign rivals.


Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2022.

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