(Pak Destiny) Dawn’s columnist Fahd Hussain has said it all about the mindset of Prime Minister Imran Khan which is nothing different from former premier Nawaz Sharif.
Same old story of taking on its political rivals and Khan is perfectly using the state institutions — NAB, FIA and ANF — to check his political rivals. Sharifs used to the same with the PPP of Benazir Bhutto.
Khan is a great disappointment in himself and for the people as they believed that this man would not indulge in such a dirty politics but he is proving the worse.
Read Fahd Hussain’s column and you may not disagree.
By Fahd Hussain
Khan always talked about building institutions. Recall his speeches
when he repeatedly emphasised that institutions, and not individuals,
sway over the system. This was the only way, he argued, that a system
could mature into a stable and progressive democracy. He would then
quote examples of how the Sharifs and Zardaris and their henchmen had
weakened the system by bending institutions to their
will. He would go on to mention the FIA, police and other
law-enforcement agencies that were used by these politicians to hound
their opponents and do their bidding.
Imran was correct when he stated that whenever individuals forced institutions to do their bidding, they not only persecuted the opposition through these agencies, they also ensured that these law-enforcement and investigative agencies did not investigate the people in power.
Imran had a powerful point. Tragic that it’s lost on him now.
Three powerful and critically important institutions are today battling to save their credibility: National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF). At stake is not just the trust of these three but of the system itself. Here’s why:
For two decades you rail and rant against the system only to become the system yourself.
Miftah Ismail was imprisoned for six months. Court has given him bail because the prosecution had no logical arguments to keep him in jail. He lost six months of his freedom. Why?
Rana Sanaullah was imprisoned for six months. Court has given him bail because the prosecution could not produce any evidence that necessitated keeping him in jail. He lost six months of his freedom. Why?
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is in jail since the last six months. He has not applied for bail but the prosecution has produced no evidence against him for the charges that he is in jail for. He continues to be deprived of his freedom for no logical reason.
What is common between these three cases that should concern each and every patriotic Pakistani?
First, the lack of concrete evidence points to an alarming fact: citizens are detained for months on end and there is no relief for them in this present system even if the investigating agencies have nothing on them that can stand up in court.
Second, the fact that these agencies arrested these men without worrying about producing the evidence that would justify these arrests means the system provides them the discretion to deprive citizens of their liberty without them worrying about being held accountable for their actions.
Third, they retain enough discretion in their decision-making powers to pick and choose which person to arrest and which not to touch which reinforces the fact that the system allows them to be very political in their choices.
Fourth, they face no adverse consequences if they cannot prove their allegations despite depriving a citizen of his liberty, which means the system provides them impunity at the expense of the basic rights of citizens.
Fifth, in the inevitable conflict between the state and the citizens, the law favours the state.
Alarmed enough? Wait, there’s more.
Previous governments knew they were misusing executive agencies but did it anyway because this was an acceptable part of politics and governance in Pakistan.
On paper police was meant to serve and protect citizens; in reality it was a force at the disposal of the government of the day to be used as per the wishes of the government of the day against anyone so desired by the government of the day. On paper, NAB and FIA and ANF were supposed to combat crime and corruption in the best interest of the citizens; in reality they could be used by the government of the day to hound and persecute any opponent that needed to be hounded and persecuted in the best interest of the government of the day.
We all pretended that we lived under a Constitution that guided the government that in turn guided the executive agencies to serve we the people. It was a game and we all played it. Till one man came and called everyone out. This man said: ‘let us not pretend anymore that there is no gap between what we pretend and what really happens. Let us put a stop to this charade. Let us stop these political parties from using NAB, FIA, ANF and police against their opponents. Let us reform these agencies and start a new beginning’. The man described this new beginning as Naya Pakistan.
And then he went ahead and broke the nation’s heart.
He didn’t mean to. It just happened. Perhaps out of the goodness of his heart or perhaps out of well-intentioned naiveté — it matters not — he did it with a vengeance. And he did so not by doing anything exceptionally out of the ordinary or evil or villainous. No none of this. All he did was that he became like them.
And so NAB is going after Imran’s opponents; ANF is going after Imran’s opponents and FIA is going after Imran’s opponents. For two decades you rail and rant against the system only to become the system yourself.
That, sir, is how you break 218,654,735 hearts.
Alarmed enough? Wait, there’s more.
Many people in the PTI government feel there’s nothing wrong with the NAB, FIA, ANF, police hounding their opponents regardless of the weakness of the evidence. Evidence? What evidence? They ask. These people are corrupt and looters and Imran said he will put them in jail so we are putting them in jail. What’s wrong with this? Yes, they genuinely ask this.
What is worse than committing a wrong is committing a wrong and not believing you are committing a wrong. How can you reform yourself if you think there’s nothing to reform?
Dear patriotic citizens of Pakistan, hear this: we are shaking the fundamentals of this system by our ignorance, our naiveté and our missionary zeal to cleanse everything except ourselves. This system is regressing. It is sawing off the trust in institutions that act as the pillars holding up the system. If the state is bleeding trust, it is bleeding the reason to exist.
Alarmed enough? If you are a patriot, you should be.