Wishful thinking

Where the captain is headed?

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Prime Minister Imran Khan in China while praising president Xi’s vision for development said the latter’s greatest crusade was against corruption, ostensibly referring to his anti-corruption drive since 2012 when he tried some 1.3 million people including 400 ministerial level people who were jailed.

The PM’s worry is that he cannot do it in Pakistan as the justice system there was cumbersome and does not let people be punished without due process of law. China while our immediate neighbour is a different society. It offers limited rights to its people. There is one party system. And we have no way of knowing either whether those 400 ministers were given fair trial or not. Or what amount of money was recovered from them.

In Pakistan we currently have the most number of opposition politicians facing incarceration or trial than at any other time in history of the country. Even Gen Musharraf was not that ruthless and was forced to maintain a veneer of rule of law due to his weak credentials as a leader by virtue of being in the military uniform and doubling as the chief executive of the country. The National Accountability Bureau is functioning optimally as far as the institution of cases was concerned. Two former prime ministers, a former president are behind the bars. Two ex prime ministers are facing various cases in the courts. The images of an accountability judge and the NAB chief stand tarnished and yet they continue to function as before. The judge is only relieved from his responsibilities but no disciplinary action has yet started against him. The chief justice of the supreme court in his new judicial year address called for addressing the impression that justice was lopsided and part of some kind of political engineering.

As for the opposition, the PM and his institutions have a free hand to go after them. Is it then the ministers in his cabinet that he cannot do anything about? Because there are already a number of cases against the cabinet members that are either not being pursued or the anti graft watch dog was taking a lenient view of them. Babar Awan, a to be minister in the cabinet, has been exonerated in a case where he was the prime accused whereas others including former PM Raja Pervez Asharf are still being tried. Aleem Khan is already out on bail. Pervaiz Khattak sits pretty. Chaudhry brothers do not look bothered at all for all the allegations that have been leveled against them. If that was the worry, the PM should have all the support  to make arrests and try his ministers out for alleged corruption.

The other point that he spoke of was: corruption is the biggest hurdle in the way of investment. Well, Sir, you are in the saddle for over a year now, all the corruption channels that, in your view, were active under the watch of the previous government ought to have been plugged by now. You had fancy ideas about ending this menace when you were on the container-top. It is time to put them to use.