European societies are genuine democracies. Politicians understand that public, parliaments, judiciary, local governments, banks and other financial institutions can hold them accountable. Most importantly their own ‘political parties’ can question them, hold them accountable and force them to resign as happened in case of extremely popular, three times Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher or recently in case of Iceland Prime Minster whose party cadres started to question him.
But all across Europe and western democracies, political parties are ‘political parties’ that have been created, that have evolved to let intelligent citizens rise to the positions of leadership. But the issues and challenges in Pakistan are totally different. And once again these issues have been exposed by the Panama Files Crisis. Here all political parties – with the exception of Jammat-e-Islami are personal fiefdoms. Yes! Imran Khan sets a different dream and agenda but jury is still out on the future of PTI.
Panama Files Crisis in Pakistan has again demonstrated that PMLN is nothing but a ‘personal fiefdom’ of the Sharif family. Party leaders are not acting like ‘political leaders’ in their own right but merely as ‘helpless employees’ of a ‘private limited company’ who are tasked to defend their boss, CEO of the Company. Panama Files Disclosures, the global crisis it has created and the names of Sharif family in these files demand that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family must explain their position. Coming to the parliament and explaining to the parliamentarians from all parties and responding to Questions can be first step. Another step to restore confidence can be publishing of all financial records and transactions, revenue flows and taxes paid since at least 1981 when the Sharif family entered politics and when Nawaz Sharif became the finance Minister of Pakistan’s largest Province, Punjab. Nawaz Sharif not only became the Finance Minister in 1981, under a set up run by military dictator, Gen. Zia ul Haq, but he then went on to become Punjab’s CM twice, first from 1985 to 1988 and then from 1988 to 1990. He then twice became Pakistan’s Prime Minister from 1990 to 1993 and again from 1997 to 1999. He became the third time Prime Minister in 2013 in an election that was marred by serious allegations of systemic rigging.
Panama crisis and the muscular way it is being dealt by PMLN and Pakistani political system (silence of judiciary, impotence of all organs of the state, dumbing down by media to divert attention) can help understand the nature of Elections that take place in Pakistan or of any investigation – Judicial or otherwise – that can be held about them. Instead of coming clean on the questions raised by ‘Panama Files’ Sharif family is being defended by govt. ministers who sound vulgar and threatening to anyone who raises questions. The ‘political response’ and ‘strategy’ in Pakistan is not that the ruling family has to explain but that the ‘critics’ and ‘opposition’ have to be threatened, muzzled silenced. Of course this finally proves that Pakistan is not a democracy. Here ‘Elections’ are cosmetic exercises that are held in a planned fashion to legitimize the hold on power. This is a kind of certificate which Pakistani power wielders require for legitimacy and approval in a global order. But this is nothing more than that. This is now grave moral crisis for the whole Pakistani nation. PMLN after all claims to be the largest political party that has won many elections and is believed to win the next coming 2018 Elections as well. So how PMLN rank and file, its main leadership and its secondary and tertiary leadership responds to the questions that have been thrown up by Panama Files crisis is of fundamental importance.
If ‘Panama Files’ is distracted and diffused as is being attempted by PMLN then what will the nature and moral authority of those coming Elections, in 2018; this is a question that should be on all minds in Pakistan.