The frantic attempts at face saving continue.
A few days ago it was Shaukat Aziz’s turn. As Dawn reported:
Shaukat Aziz has said that Pakistan has all the essential elements of democracy. Speaking at the inaugural session of an envoys’ conference at the Foreign Office, he said the country had a functioning and sovereign parliament, an active opposition, unrestricted political activity, free press and independent judiciary. He said good governance had been provided through transparency and accountability.
As we know reality is glaringly otherwise. For today I will pick only two of the above tall claims: ‘a functioning and sovereign parliament’ and ‘a free press’ (reserving the remainder hopefully for a future Blog).
As for the claim of ‘a sovereign parliament’, most of us are aware that we have been inflicted with a rubber-stamp parliament, which helps prop up a farcical government made of extremely dubious characters, many – if not most - of whom were elected courtesy of our intelligence agencies.
As columnist Ayaz Amir points out in his latest column:
…there are two governments in Pakistan — one nominal represented by prime minister and parliament, the other real represented by the president-in-uniform — there are two election commissions in Pakistan: one headed by the chief election commissioner, the other in ISI. The first makes all the sound and fury. The real ballot-counting takes place in the second.According to Ayaz Amir even the ‘dapper Khurshid Kasuri, stern guardian of the national interest’ would not have got elected to the National Assembly without ISI’s help.
Your Blogger himself is witness to how an MNA with a patently fake internet degree (which was passed by two high court judges who are believed to have received a forceful push from ‘high up above’) got elected by pre-stuffed ballot boxes placed at his rival’s polling booths. And the reason behind his ‘miraculous’ success? Soon after his political rival challenged his fake degree in court the MNA-hopeful made a surreptitious visit to Islamabad where he met with Lieutenant General Ehsan ul Haq, then chief of ISI, and pledged his loyal allegiance to Musharraf.
And Shaukat Aziz’s claim that we have a free press is just as preposterous.
How’s this report for starters:
Reporters Without Borders has registered at least 21 cases of Pakistani and foreign journalists being kidnapped by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) since Gen. Musharraf became president in October 1999
Recent happenings only add further grist to the mill. The outrageous kidnapping and cold-blooded execution of Waziristan journalist Hayatullah Khan has scandalised most newspaper readers in Pakistan.
Much before the discovery of Hayatullah’s handcuffed body the following had already appeared in the international media:
Amnesty International reported in April:
Local journalists have repeatedly expressed their conviction that intelligence agencies were holding Hayatullah Khan. This was further confirmed when the North West Frontier Province Governor's secretary [Arbab Shahzad] told a delegation of the Khyber Union of Journalists in mid-December that Hayatullah Khan would be "held longer" if they continued their protests.
It would appear that NWFP’s governor’s secretary knew exactly who had detained Hayatullah.
Then there is the current case of Geo TV and The News correspondent Mukesh Rupeta and assistant cameraman Sanjay Kumar. Rupeta and Kumar ‘disappeared’ on March 6 this year. Sadly it took their employer, Jang Media Group, an unbelievable period of three and half months before going public about their missing employees (but then the Jang Group is known for being rather spineless vis-à-vis Islamabad).
...the detention incommunicado for over three months of Mukesh Rupeta, a correspondent of this newspaper and Geo TV, severely undermines the claims often made by the president and the prime minister that the press is free. Mr Rupeta had been missing since early March and it was only after his disappearance was disclosed by his employers that he was presented before a court. Till then, the government -- as per what seems to have become the 'standard operating procedure' in such cases -- had been denying any knowledge of his whereabouts. However, the day the national press reported that he had been missing for over three months, and that he might have been taken into custody by the intelligence agencies for filming a military installation, he was produced before a court and the police filed charges against him under the Official Secrets Act.
Shaukat Aziz was an extremely successful private banker. His speciality in Citibank was to raise mega-million deposits from third world individuals – including many corrupt heads of governments and their family members. To obtain these kinds of funds one needs a dazzling smile, tons of charm and guile, and a lot of bull-dust.
However, as yet another stuffed-ballot-boxes elected-MNA Shaukat Aziz should be more than well aware of the reality of our ‘democracy’. So when he sprouts such unbelievable absurdities all I can say to him is (with apologies to all potential Jedi warriors): May the Farce be with you!