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The myth of accountability

Afrasiab Khan Khattak

Afrasiab Khan Khattak

Although the Supreme Court is expected to take up the inquiry report of the JIT against the Sharif family on Monday, but it seems to be a mere  formality as the cheerleaders of the creeping coup are determined to force the Apex Court to sack the elected Prime Minister of the country. By now it’s pretty clear that in actual fact the JIT was more of a demolition squad than an enquiry committee. In its enthusiasm for politically decimating the Sharif family the JIT has churned out propaganda material far beyond the scope of the thirteen questions of the Supreme Court given to the team as terms of reference to prepare an inquiry report. Apart from giving totally unnecessary personal comments about members of Sharif family the Team in its report has also ventured to evaluate the character of another civilian, the former interior minister Rehman Malik.

The creeping coup existed far before the leakage of Panama Papers. The scripted and prolonged sit in of 2014 against the government had made a similar demand with the claim that general election of 2013 were rigged. Even when the Supreme Court rejected those charges after conducting a detailed enquiry the agenda of the deep state for a regime change didn’t change. If the history of past many decades is anything to go by there are no reluctant coup makers. Usurpers consciously wait in the wings for the opportunity to ambush the democratic process, and they create opportunity if it doesn’t exist.

Interestingly it is being claimed that it is for the first time in history of the country that “the high and mighty ones” are being made accountable. The question is who are the real high and mighty ones in the system of controlled democracy practiced in Pakistan? The real rulers, well known as the ruling establishment, have never faced accountability. So much so that even the ones responsible for disintegration of the country in 1971 could not be made accountable. As far as the prime ministers (the junior partners who play the second fiddle) are concerned they have been not only brought to book time and again but in many cases they had to face the worst kind of victimisation for defying the real rulers. Constitutional rule and democratic system have always been ambushed in the name of accountability.

Have we forgotten that Ayub Khan’s martial law targeted a number of powerful politicians in the name of curbing corruption, although the dictatorship ultimately institutionalised corruption and enabled the notorious twenty families to own bulk of the country’s wealth? General Zia had prolonged his dark and evil dictatorship in the name of accountability. General Pervez Musharraf had also not only justified his coup in 1999 by using the same slogan but he had also created the king’s party by blackmailing a number of politicians in the name of accountability. As we have seen again and again the slogan of eliminating corruption and carrying out accountability has been the classical modus operandi of coup makers. But the most recent statement of General Musharraf takes the cake. Commenting on JIT report he has expressed pleasure over the fact that the powerful are being made accountable. Coming from a man who is alleged to have committed high treason by abrogating the country’s Constitution and who is brazenly absconding from the court trail, such a statement is possible only in Pakistan. He himself has pointed out the person/institution that helped him in escaping the trail. That the courts have shown no interest in bringing back to the country a person under trial and accused under the most serious charges only proves that the notorious doctrine of necessity is still alive and kicking.

The PML-N government can be and should be criticised and made accountable for many things. For example this government has sidelined and marginalised the parliament to an extant that has resulted in undermining the entire democratic project. In a parliamentary democratic system elected houses play a pivotal role in policy making. But the parliament has been reduced to almost total irrelevance by the irresponsible attitude of the present government. Similarly the elected government has conceded wide swathes of security and foreign policy to the security establishment. So much so that some ambassadors are called over to the GHQ for conducting foreign policy of the country. The military dominated Apex Committees (that aren’t based on solid legal or constitutional foundation) are allowed to run the system of governance in provinces, particularly in Balochistan and Sindh. The government of Nawaz Sharif is focused on Punjab and has failed to pay enough attention to the plight of FATA Pashtuns and Baloch people. Development under CPEC is being monopolised by Punjab. This government has also failed in implementing NAP by taking action against alleged extremists and terrorists in the Punjab. One can go on and on in enlisting the wrongdoings of the present government. Opposition political parties have every right to attack the government for these blunders but the Panama circus has hijacked the political discourse and vital problems faced by the country and its people are hardly discussed by the media.

However the continued attempts to dislodge the government by the deep state and its political cohorts were not motivated by the aforementioned wrongdoings of the government. For them the real bone of contention is Mian Nawaz Sharif’s commitment to normalise relations with neighboring countries, particularly with India. In October 1999 his government was overthrown mainly for attempting to have a rapprochement with India after Vajpai’s Lahore yantra. This time it’s more serious as normalization of relations with India was part of the election manifesto of PML-N for which majority of the people voted in 2013. Similarly Nawaz Sharif’s emphasis on geo-economics is supposed to undermine the significance of the geo-strategic which is the main justification for the support of “good Taliban” and domination of the state system by the security establishment. It was also felt that without the demolition by JIT, PML-N may be poised to win the next general elections in the Punjab, which means power in Islamabad. In view of the above it can be safely said that the Supreme Court decision on Monday will make a difference between continuity of democratic system/constitutional order and take over of the country by a super Apex Committee.

Writer: Afrasiab Khan Khattak

The writer is a regular contributor to THE PASHTUN TIMES. He is a retired senator and a leader of Awami National Party (ANP). He tweets    @a_siab 

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