I will admit I do not know much about Tony Benn, the left leaning British Labour Party politician who died last year. His political achievements within Westminster politics are of little or no interest to me but what is of interest to me are the five questions he believed we should ask the most powerful of the land. He said;
"If one meets a powerful person - Rupert Murdoch, perhaps, or Joe Stalin or Hitler - one can ask five questions: what power do you have; where did you get it; in whose interests do you exercise it; to whom are you accountable; and, how can we get rid of you? Anyone who cannot answer the last of those questions does not live in a democratic system."
I am struck by the incredible relevance of these questions to present day Pakistan where unbridled power is exercised by a tiny minority over a fatally compliant majority of citizens. In light of the recent fuel crisis, I find it hard to describe my compatriots in any other way. The long queues of misery-stricken bottle-clutching – tired men, women and children waiting for hours in the faint hope of buying some liquid happiness to run their motorcycles, scooters and cars. What has become of us - the suffering descendants of those who gave us a free country in 1947 – a great chance to live dignified lives free of oppression? The answer perhaps lies in understanding what ‘power’ has come to mean to the rulers of Pakistan; so let us examine this in light of Tony Benn’s five questions.
What power do you have?
The power exercised by the rulers of Pakistan over the people is truly obscene. They not only have a stranglehold over food and fuel production and supply but also on making laws that only benefit them and their families. It will not be too far from the truth to suggest that Sharifs, for example, live and behave like emperors; the laws of the land do not apply to them and never will. It is truly shocking that Sharifs exercise the power of life and death over a population that has to beg for its ‘naan’ and watery ‘daal.’ Unbridled power gives the likes of Sharifs and Zardaris access to an unlimited supply of tax-free money – the single most important resource for enslavement. With money they can buy anything they like; assets, elections, judges, politicians, even more money, power and even life after life in grand mausoleums.
Where did you get it (power)?
The allegation is that Zardari and Sharif got their power from the people via elections but the reality is rather disturbing; Pakistan’s elections are nothing more than an orgy of corruption and robbery conducted under the auspices of a work of fiction called the Constitution of Pakistan. I find it amusing when politicians triumphantly say that they are answerable to people who have voted for them; people with empty tummies and chronic problems of inflation, deprivation, lack of education and opportunities, lack of security and with a strong belief divine intervention can NEVER vote; they can only roll for one disaster to another. To ask the likes of Ayaz Saddiq how he got his power will be laughable; it is akin to a man standing by a bloody corpse, clutching a smoking gun, shouting ‘I am glad I killed the bastard!’ being asked, is there any proof you did it? In case of Parvaiz Rasheed it would be a moronic discussion about how to define the concept of ‘murder.’
In whose interest do you exercise it (power)?
Now that is a really ‘interesting’ question, is it not? Even an uneducated, pavement-dwelling, smelly and revolting pauper in Lahore will be able to answer this question correctly – and there lies the real irony. We all know that Sharifs, Zardaris and their families exercise power solely in the interest of their business and family interests; we all watch televised stories of the daily rape of merit and competence on the 8 p.m. prime time talk-shows but still we find it impossible to progress beyond words. The problem we have is a religious one; we all seem to be resigned to the promised hope of Divine justice in the afterlife as we watch our rulers fornicate with our dignity in this life – yes, queuing up for fuel and food or waiting for electricity or gas to appear with the same regularity as bills etc. are all good examples.
To whom are you (rulers) accountable?
Well, once you have rediscovered you composure, I will dwell on this; once again you can ask any other disgustingly poor citizen of Pakistan as to whom he or she thinks Nawaz Sharif is accountable to and the answer will be to no one. The general rhetoric is that we are all accountable to God and Sharifs will make sure that keep reminding us of that but in actual fact our rulers are accountable only to their greed – at least in this life. The legal system of Pakistan that is entrusted with accountability and in Pakistan we also have something called NAB whose head is appointed by those who it is meant to hold accountable – at least we have not lost our ability to laugh. Iftikhar Chaudary was elevated to the position of CJP but he turned out to be a wonderful salesperson who found it hard to explain his son’s unlimited supply of money. Accountability is the nubile, busty and sexy blonde Fazlu dreams of every one seventh of a second but the fact remains that no amount of drool dripping down his beard will ever make it a reality. The suggestion that our rulers are accountable to the people of Pakistan is as ridiculous as the suggestion that they derive their power from the people.
How can we get rid of you (rulers)?
If you have not lost your will to live by now – you should. Let us face it; there is no way of getting rid of our power junkies, is there? Musharraf still has wet dreams of returning to power, Falzu suffers from daily “nocturnal pollutions” of attaining power and Zardari-Bhutto and Sharifs are hell bent on making their hold on power an integral part of their genetic make-up. In civilised countries major and minor cockups are sufficient for rulers to walk away from the corridors of power but never in Pakistan. Even acts of deliberate criminality are not sufficient to get rid of anyone in our country. Model Town murders is only ONE example in a litany of murderous exercise of power by our rulers and yet they are still in power – enjoying trips paid for by tax-payers - to yonder lands even if the trip is of no benefit to the people of Pakistan. The death of a King is of significance to Nawaz Sharif because not because he wants to become a king but because in his mind he already is, except the named title, the King of Pakistan.
Our inability to get rid of our incompetent, corrupt and nepotistic rulers is the clearest sign that our suffering will not end with the fuel crisis we are faced with today. The sacking of incompetent leadership is the defining trait of those nations that have made it and we in Pakistan are still too preoccupied with doctrinal issues of life after death to worry about the stink in life before death.
For those still protesting that Pakistan does have democracy, I leave you with the last line from the Tony Benn quote;
“Anyone who cannot answer the last of those questions does not live in a democratic system."
Statistics: Posted by stingingnettle — Sat Jan 24, 2015 2:04 pm