Reforming Pakistan – All or Nothing! – Getting rid of the dog in the well is not enough!

 Dr. Ishrat Hussain’s book on Reform

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

At a recent seminar in Toronto, organized by OPEN (Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs of North America) I heard a talk by Dr. Naseeruddin Mahmood, Trustee of the ChildLife foundation, describing very humbly, how in a 5 year period the  90% mortality rate of children brought into the Children Emergency centers of government hospitals in Karachi became a 90% survival rate.  Soon I hope to interview this remarkable man and share this wonderful story with everyone.  This and many others are remarkable stories of successful and sustainable institutional reform in public sectors organizations in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s current story is no different.

Currently an extremely poorly run country, where an exclusive and rapacious criminal elite, loots and plunders at will.   And its future should also be no different. An extremely prosperous and well run country, governed by honest and competent people!

The obvious misrule and corruption of Nawaz or Zardari and their coteries, or the perceived high handedness of the military or the Supreme Court, are symptoms of a society in which its public governance and institutional processes have degenerated into ad hoc activities, mostly, if not exclusively driven by personal loyalty and personal gain.  A few that have remain relatively unscathed like the Armed forces or one or two which have regained some institutional strength, like the Supreme Court, then acquire power and influence far in excess of their roles and mandate.

Hence it is important to frame our problem and thus the objective.

Pakistan’s problem is not corruption.  Pakistan’s problem is absence of good governance.

While this can be a chicken and egg argument, all the current evidence of societies that have transformed or become better than before is because of the change in the “context” or the “environment” in which their citizenries live. South Africa, Rwanda, even Bangladesh.

Post apartheid South Africa was a guaranteed bloodbath which didn’t happen. Of course there’s crime in South Africa but the massacres that were to follow, did not.

23 years ago in Rwanda, in 1994, over a million people were killed in one of the most horrific genocides in modern times when the Hutus killed Tutsis.  These killings were mostly done with machettes, knives, clubs, axes, etc. Imagine the horror and the country was completely destroyed. No institution survived. By 2000 they had a new constitution and today Rwanda is a thriving country.

Bangladesh despite its violent birth, violent past and the battle between the two “begums” is now ahead of Pakistan in human development and economic indicators.

The entire literature and research on individual and societal change also leads to one conclusion.  Change the rules of the game and people and societies change behaviour. For example, in the so called West, if caught you pay the penalty for over speeding or not paying taxes or breaking any law. If serious, you get thrown in jail for traffic and tax offences. And that is why people don’t over speed (unless they have a “fuzz buster”) and pay taxes. Politics is a public and scared trust. Of course there are crooked politicians in Canada and the USA and Europe. But if caught, they pay the penalty.

This year’s Ecomomics Nobel Prize goes to Richard Thaler, for his work on Behavioral Economics highlighting how individuals can be “nudged” to change behaviour

But there’s a very dark and tragic flip side to this behaviour change.  A society which keeps crossing red lines, be they legal, moral or ethical, and its institutions are no longer capable to punish the detractor, adopts this new world of criminality as the “new norm”.   In Pakistan we witnessed acceptance of this new norm, in one of our most shameful acts, when our elected parliament, passed a law allowing an indicted person accused of major crimes to be re –elected a party chief.  One can’t even picture the Labour or Conservative parties in the UK or the Democratic and Republican parties in the USA, re-electing a person, as its party head. A person indicted for money laundering, forgery, illegal assets etc. Nixon had to leave for lying and destroying evidence.  Bill Clinton, nearly impeached for acts “under the table” that had nothing to do with governance!

Misrule, corruption, crime, at any level happens as a consequence of weak institutions, weak policies, weak processes and incompetent people at the helm.

Why do we have a better run Army vs a terrible police force? Why is the NICVD (National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases)i, run with better efficiency and effectiveness vs the rest of the hospital” Why is the Urology Clinic run better than other departments? Why are the IBA, LUMS, Shaukat Khanum Hospital, Aga Khan Hospital, Indus Hospital, ChildLife Foundation, better run institutions than their counterparts? Why do people wear seatbelts and drive more carefully on the Islamabad – Lahore Motorway vs the GT Road.  Why was NAB most effective under General Shoaib and not under subsequent Chairperson’s even during Gen. Musharraf’s rule? Why was Gen. Musharraf so astoundingly successful in his first three years and not after? Why was the Higher Education Commission (HEC) so successful under Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman and Dr. Sohail Naqvi and now in the dog house under Dr. Mukhtar? Why was the State Bank such a feared institution under Dr. Ishrat Hussain and now Ishaq Dar’s handmaiden under that criminal Saeed? Why has the SECP fallen to such lows under that foul mouthing abusive individual, Zafar Hijazi? Why is the KPK police so much more effective vs the Punjab or Sind police?  These are mere examples to illustrate a point.  Institutional strength with robust process and competent and honest people (relatively) delivers value. Destroying institutions requires that dishonest (not necessarily incompetent) people be brought into key roles so that policies, rules and processes are changed and or subverted, allowing the loot and plunder to commence.

So I humbly submit.  Our problem is not Corruption which as old as humanity, ingrained in our DNA as is survival, food, sex.  Our problem is good governance delivered by strong institutions.

Today, our institutions are no longer able to deliver what they are tasked with. Institutions that build capacity, cannot. Institutions that deliver public service, cannot. Institutions that provide safety and security, cannot.  Institutions that uphold the law can no longer keep law breakers in check.  And the consequences of such decay are catastrophic.

While Nawaz and Zardari may yet escape their nemesis and flee to far off lands to enjoy their ill gotten wealth and may for a time create space for their children to continue the loot and plunder, eventually it will reach breaking point .  From sporadic symbols of mass discontent, this will eventually snowball into anarchy and a free for all. Many people dismiss this notion by saying that we’ve been listening to this doomsday scenario for ever and yet we are OK.

No, we’re not OK.

We lost half our country.

Nearly 800,00 people have been killed in the war on terror. Whole communities and families have been uprooted their lives destroyed.

The Armed forces have been in a state of war with for over 14 years.

Try being a Shia or a Qadiani in today’s Pakistan and you will know that all is not well.

Try setting up a business and you will find out all is not well. Ask a businessman trying to make an honest living.

Try criticising the Army and you will know all is not well.

Try opposing the religious right and you will know all is not well.

Try living an honest life in Pakistan.

Ask the poor, the underprivileged, the weak and at the risk. Ask them if all is well in Pakistan.

No sir, all is not well in the State of Pakistan.

The day the elite will realize all is not well is when the mobs ransack their houses lining the pristine boulevards of our Defence Societies, the Bahria Towns, the Askaris and the Gulbergs.  No General’s colony will be spared. No security guards will save you. Your Rolexes, your pretentious destination weddings, your BMW’s, your elite club memberships, your summer vacations to France and Spain, even your second Canadian residency. No not even that. And for those who think that in this state of total anarchy the Pakistan Army can save the system, think again.  No Army could save the Shah of Iran.  No Army could save the tottering Soviet state.  The Rwandan Army couldn’t save anybody.  Neither could the Iraqi, the Syrian, the Libyan, the Yemeni and the Afghan armies.

When anarchy overtakes, however big or well-trained your Army, we will all be swept away.  The good, the bad and the ugly. Everybody.

So fear that day, Mr or Mrs or Ms Pakistani, nothing will save you, if you unfortunately happen to be in that house that day! Therefore do not say we are not sliding down a very slippery slope. We are and very rapidly too, and God Forbid we hit rock bottom.  For rock bottom means total anarchy.

Why didn’t Zardari and Nawaz institute reform? What justifies not delivering on good governance other than a criminal, abject, unforgiveable and unpardonable sin of destroying these institutions so these two and their parties and cronies could acquire unlimited power and wealth?

if they really wanted to rule for the good of the people, what better way then to deliver good governance and keep getting re-elected.  But no! They raped the system and hijacked the electoral process, for their personal greed and in the process both have consciously and deliberately delivered near fatal blows to Pakistan

The solution is simple. The process complex.  In the Army we learned one cardinal principal. “Selection of objective and maintenance of Aim”. It meant that once the correct objective was selected then it is to be pursued with all resources till achieved and not be sidetracked.

Pakistan’s core objective, is the  delivery of good governance, brilliantly articulated by Dr. Ishrat Hussain, the former State Bank Governor, who, in my opinion and of many others, is our foremost public sector reform specialist.  The details of his research and plan are a must read and implementation when the time comes.

Good governance is our objective.  This will deliver well being on all fronts. Law and order, security, education, health care, employment, economic development, investment, research, human development indices.  In fact everything to create a much better society then we are now!

And good governance can happen in the following sequence.

1. Getting rid of the current cabal of corrupt and incompetent rulers symbolized by Nawaz and Zardari and what they represent. The powers that be who can, must and quickly consign these people  to their respective locations in Adiala etc, including the untouchables like Maryam Safdar Hudood. So the message is as clear as day.  If there is even the whiff of a compromise and “arrangement” between them and others, then you will never be forgiven.  Do this quickly and totally. No quarter taken no quarter given.  The longer these cancerous cells are allowed to thrive the more dangerous they are for Pakistan.

And don’t bank on Shahbaz Sharif. He’s as crooked as they get and as dishonest and as evil!

2. Getting honest and competent people into positions of authority. This is the biggest challenge. In this all political forces which are anti status quo must be fully supported. People like Imran and Tahir ul Qadri, despite their failings, real or perceived. Fresh elections under the current parliamentary system and rules are a garbage in, garbage out exercise.  It will bring back the same people in one form shape or the other.  It will force good people like Imran to compromise their position by having to truck with these same wretched creatures.  Some arm twisting, some late night “meetings” some cajoling, some eye balling, some money, anything that offers the opportunity to upend the current stench filled system and be replaced by one which gets honest and competent people into power. A referendum perhaps or maybe a Supreme Court petition. Anything, but Martial Law.  But this system must be changed, otherwise we are doomed!

3. Once in, initiate institutional reform based on Dr. Ishrat Hussain’s priceless work and research. I would make him the head of the National Reform Commission and Finance Minister in any new government.

4. Deliver good governance for a better and prosperous Pakistan.

At the risk of repeating myself.

Pakistan’s major issue is poor governance caused by the institutional decay of all key public institutions. Those that plan our future, those that deliver our services and those that hold people accountable for breaking the public trust.

And Incompetence and Corruption is what causes this decay.

No reforms will succeed till we don’t get competent and honest people into positions of power and authority for institutional reform and improved governance.

Getting the dogs out of the contaminated well is not the answer. Nawaz Sharif, Zardari etc are the symbols and symptoms of dishonesty and incompetence leading to institutional decay and the core problem of poor governance. Removing them will not resolve the core issue of poor governance.

Getting honest and competent people into power so we can reform our institutions to improve governance and rebuild our society and country is the core issue.

Its all or nothing!  Either go the full route and complete the job or sit back and enjoy the inevitable rape, whilst enjoying your spit and polish and perks and privileges, as long as they last!

This is the big one- two knockout punch and we must go all the way!

1. Get honest and competent people into authority. What a future PM like Imran needs, or whoever is in the Chair, as long as he or she is honest, are public sector professionals with private sector expertise in their teams. These people are Unicorns and rare. I’m not one, lest people think its a plug.  Dr. Ishrat Hussain is. And plenty more.

2. Reform institutions for better governance.

P.S.
And one last thing.

No military person should ever be in public sector governance. They will make a hash of things. But they must and should play whatever role they can, to save the country and facilitate any process to get good and competent people  into power through a clean, transparent and sustainable electoral process.

“Selection of Objective and Maintenance of Aim”

-Haider Mehdi

Gen Qamar Bajwa on the Economy.- A way out?

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

I think this may be the beginning of a move to build public opinion for a possible interim arrangement to try and stop the bleeding and improve governance!

But if this process hasn’t been very deeply thought through and rigorously war gamed to the “nth” degree, evaluating all eventualities and counter measures, such an arrangement will ultimately leave the system even worse then it currently is.

While it is clear that we are currently heading for a train wreck and that must be averted, what we don’t want is a bigger train wreck, later.

Our short history is replete with how well intentioned interventions turned into monumental disasters for the country.

In my humble opinion, the short term solution still lies in strengthening the judiciary, building public opinion, supporting the agents of change like Imran, reformulating and strengthening the Election Commission with people of integrity and competence and hoping in a fair and free elections we will get relatively better people into governance. I’m not so sure this is a long term solution because long term the solution lies elsewhere.

I believe, the long term answer really lies in a complete overhaul of our Constitution and our electoral and governance processes.

There doesn’t appear to be a way in which the basic structure of  current constitution can be amended or changed.

I’m not sure if the current National  Assembly and Senate can even change this basic structure of the Constitution.

And even if they could, why on earth would they legislate amendments and sign their own death warrants?

Therefore the only option to somebody like me appears to be a Supreme Court directive on a petition of fundamental rights to seek a mandate of the people through something like a referendum, for a major overhaul of our constitution especially our electoral and governance models to get the right kind of people into positions of governance.

This could lead to a body which would do what the Assembly did in 1973.

Let us remember that in 45 years since Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto we’ve had 25 years of civilian rule and 20 years of Martial Law and this form of parliamentary democracy hasn’t worked for us.

Hence a major  change to the system is required to allow better  “inputs”. The inputs being the kind of people who reach positions of public governance, power and authority.

This to me and all others who understand governance is the “simple-mentation” solution.

Hence some of the broad but key parameters of such an overhaul are or could be.

1.Directly elected chief executive. President and Governors so that there is one Chief Executive and a maximum two term, 4 year limit per term, to ensure fresh thinking.

2. More provinces. 17 to 28. So that the hold of a dominant Punjab over other provinces is broken. The tragedy of allocating nearly Rs. 200 billion for four large massive metro and train infrastructure projects vs investing in health and education or law and order, is perhaps the most stark symbol of how taxpayers money was hijacked and looted by a single individual, the CM of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif and deployed at his and his brother’s whims.

3. Elections to 50% seats on proportional representation and not first past the post so that every vote counts and parties are able to induct technocrats, experts and specialists into the assemblies for improved and quality legislation.

4. Non elected people can be appointed to cabinet posts so that subject matter expertise drives policy making in governance.

But in doing all this, and while it’s under process, one thing is of paramount importance. An administrative infrastructure which doesn’t disenfranchise the people.

I say this because the biggest downside of a Technocrat or Martial Law type intervention is that they take away, what little access the poor and marginalized communities and segments have to government services, which is provided by the local elected MNA or MPA, however corrupt they may be.

So if there is a need for an interim solution to stem the rot, our Local Governments must continue to function with more empowerment and more delegated administrative and financial powers so that the common citizen continues to have access to government.

But let’s not forget that any attempts to rebuild the system will be attacked with full force by Nawaz Sharif and his henchmen. The likes of Ahsan Iqbal at one end and Capt. Safdar at the other. All evil creatures cut from the same cloth.

Nawaz is a wounded fox, not mortally, but serious enough to realize his time maybe up and on his desperation to survive, still capable of mad destruction around him, including Pakistan. A person who was willing to meet an Indian interlocutor without any aides is not someone who can be trusted.

I had suggested in an earlier piece that he will do anything and everything to survive. Hitting at our fault lines. Sectarian. Religious. Ethnic. Provincial. Political. Social. Cultural. Institutional. The first and last most serious.

Pitting state institutions against each other. And attempting to  weaken and defang them. The Supreme Court and the Army being in his cross hairs as prime targets. And now in plain sight for all to see.

And only for two objectives.

1. To save his financial capital.
2. To save his political capital.

And in that order of priority.

He knows that if he’s convicted and sentenced for money laundering, amongst other charges, his entire financial assets, inside or outside Pakistan,  whether in his name his wife or children will be frozen.

This takes away his biggest weapon, his wealth.  Without his wealth he’s just another, has been.

Without his wealth and jail term, he’s totally stripped naked. And his party breaks up, as most fly to other coops.

And for this he’s willing to bring down Pakistan and unleash terror and mayhem, hoping to invite a military takeover.

This will allow him to take the position with countries where his wealth and assets and properties and bank accounts reside that his convictions are politically motivated and hence his assets should not be frozen.

This is, in a nutshell, his game plan for survival. Destroy the country but save his wealth!

This is, in a nutshell, his game plan for survival. Destroy the country but save his wealth!

It is in all this context that we must view Capt. Safdar’s vile comments about the Ahmediyya Muslims.

Some may disagree, but I have a personal position on this.  As I’ve said earlier, in all the Scripture that I’ve read and all the insights from Islamic scholars, it is certainly clear to me that no one can declare any person or sect a non Muslim, as long as they maintain and say that they are.

The fact that very few other Muslim majority country, other then Pakistan,  have passed similar legislation is in itself something to reflect upon.

I may personally have differences with the belief frameworks of others but it doesn’t give me the right to judge them.

I’m not venturing into a theological debate about who is and who isn’t a Muslim.  Butif we start witch hunting people on the basis of their religious beliefs then we will unleash a massive storm of violence and murder in Pakistan.

Who next? The Shias? The Barelvi against the Deobandis?Christians? Hindus?

And just for the record. The young Captain of 1 Punjab who with his troops, guarding GHQ and Gen. Zia and his Commanders deliberating the consequences of their actions, on that fateful night of 5th July 1977, was an Ahmedi.

And this same Captain continued to provide personal security to Gen. Zia for the next few weeks.

And of course Gen. Zia knew he was an Ahmedi. Because the same Officer having been earlier posted out of 1 Punjab, then on Presidential Guard duties when Bhutto was in power, for being one, was posted back to his unit under Gen. Zia’s express and direct orders.

Such was and hopefully still is the ethos of our Army. It does not discriminate.

But what this insane Sharif stud did in the National Assembly was total insanity and crazy crap which only an evil mind like Nawaz could conjure up and use his son in law, to fire the first public salvo.

If we allow these demons to unleash their evil, as Nawaz wants, we will put the Nazis to shame and make Syria and Iraq look like a walk in the park.

But the issue is why did this person make such a vile speech?

Why was it broadcast fully and live by PTV?

To me and to many others, first and foremost it was a direct attack on Gen. Bajwa to cast aspersions on his religious credentials and weaken his authority and credibility as Army Chief.

Nothing could be more disastrous for Pakistan to use a religious card to destroy the credibility of an Army Chief. Imagine the terrible consequences of such an evil thought, if allowed to flourish.

This is a new low in politics that we’ve not seen before.

The second is to incite hatred and violence and public unrest so that the Army intervenes and Nawaz gets a reprieve.

While the PM and Ahsan Iqbal have come out with limp statements, as limp as their spines and their conscience and morality, the attempt to cause damage is quite clear.

On another note. A trifle below the belt but nevertheless important to bring out.

Capt. Safdar Hudood should be very careful what he says when he pretends to take the high moral and religious ground.

Let him be reminded that there’s enough circumstantial evidence  to convict him and his wife for acts falling under the Hudood ordinance which he so vociferously also advocates. A law that I personally have huge issues with.

Beware Capt. Safdar Hudood and Maryam Hudood, for throwing stones while sitting in your very flimsy glass houses. You both are  skating on extremely thin ice.

Such are the dogs of war and evil that Nawaz Sharif and his cronies have unleashed on Pakistan to save his wealth and his political future and in that order.

For him and his associates, Pakistan is secondary and only a means to more wealth and power.

Otherwise why would they have misgoverned, raped, plundered and pillaged this country as their spoils of war in the manner that they’ve done and continue to do?

This we must understand.

Especially those who still support him and his evil.

And more importantly those who sit on the fence and hope somehow, as if by magic, things will sort themselves out!

Remember. Insanity is expecting different results from the same behaviours. It’s Garbage in – Garbage out.

If we don’t change the “inputs”, that is, the quality of people, who represent us and govern the country, we will continue to recycle this garbage called Nawaz Sharif, Zaradari et al under the current system and back to the stench and vomit which exists today!

-Haider Mehdi

Catch me if you can. The PIA Airplane Scam.

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi.

While I’m not interested in getting involved in the controversy about Lt. Gen Rizwan Akhtar and his brother’s involvement in the PIA Airplane scam.

But here’s what I know. 

1. The plane was technically a “dead asset” in flying jargon, i.e not allowed to fly. But listed as a “live asset” on papers.

2. PIA did a two part deal. Part 1 was to loan it to the movie company making a movie about the Israeli commando raid on Entebbe for which the plane was to be flown to Malta. From there it was to be flown to Germany to be sold as scrap or “donated to a museum”.

3. The most valuable parts being the  Engines and auxiliary power unit (APU) would have been sold to a bidder under a tender to be floated before being given to the museum.

4. The then CEO PIA contracted a German consultant, Helmut, to facilitate the sale.

5. Air Cdr Akhtar was then Director Procurement in PIA and generated all the documentation for this two part deal which was approved by the PIA board and one time permission granted by the regulator for the flight to Malta and then to Germany.

6. The plane was then rented to the French/Israeli company for the movie scenes for 140,000 Euros and flown to Malta.  Once the movie was done the AC was flown to Leipzig, Germany.

7. It’s here where the smoke starts to rise. Apparently, Helmut the consultant brought in by the former PIA CEO,  had set up a company, owned by him, which was then going to buy the engines and the APU, once the plane arrived in Germany, before being “donated to the museum” and make a cool profit! Perhaps shared between the key players who facilitated this deal

8. This was a clear case of conflict of interest. Whether the German CEO and Air Cdr Akhtar were in on this scam is not known. But it’s unlikely that they couldn’t have been given their actions subsequently in which both escaped. One to Germany. The other back to the Air Force.

9. When the plane flew, somebody in PIA blew the whistle and an internal inquiry and then an FIA criminal investigation commenced.

10. At this time there was an attempt and create some back dated documentation to show the plane as a “dead asset” in documents. Allegedly Air Cdr Akhtar was the prime mover who did this.  Shades of Calibri font etc. As always, they messed up the dates and the FIA started to look deeper.

11. The German CEO of PIA was fired and put on ECL. Air Cdr Akhtar refused to appear before the FIA, as he was now repatriated back to PAF and reverted to service in uniform. He took the plea that because he was a serving airforce officer and under the Ministry of Defense rules and therefore  the FIA had to make a formal request to question him by moving this request  via Ministry of Defense and Air HQ. And thus he saved himself from being interrogated or questioned by the FIA team.

12. The tenders floated to “sell” the plane to one Herr Helmut, were then withdrawn as a result of the FIA investigation. 

13. The EX CEO took a plea that his wife was sick and he was he was thus allowed to leave Pakistan.

14.  Herr Helmut the so called consultant also made good his escape before the ……hit the ceiling and Air Cdr Akhtar, now on LPR, found refuge in his uniform. 

15. The plane is now parked in Leipzig, Germany, still owned by PIA  and being charged demurrage for Parking. Apparently this is being now paid out of $60,000 dues  payable to the former PIA German CEO by PIA.

That’s what I know and everyone is free to draw their own conclusions.

Salaams and prayers
Haider Mehdi

P.S.
Clarification received from Chairman PIA on my comments about the PIA scam above.

Chairman PIA Clarification and quote.

“Few corrections. PIA Board did not approve it. Instead ordered action against these people. Due to this the services of CEO were terminated. Second the deal of Malta was of 114,000 Euros. Thirdly ACdre Imran was repatriated forthwith by PIA management and he didn’t opt to go back. Tenders were floated to sell the plane but not to Mr Helmut. His company was bidder of six engines”
Unquote.

Message to me from Germany, by the former German PIA CEO, Bernd Hildebrand cited in the scandal in response to Chairman PIA Clarification. 

Bernd Hildebrand quote:
(Grammer and spellings are his)

Quote:
“Wrong. This guy (the Chairman, PIA) is a lier. I  didn’t hire Mr Helmut. He worked for a consultant before my time. Board was always fully involved. Former Chairman always was involved. The A 310 were at the end of their lifespan. Pakistan should be happy we even made money out of junk. In every normal country I would have been appraised. There are too many people who talk about things they only know of by rumours or false information!! And too many people make a scandal about normal Business!” Unquote.

– Haider Mehdi.

The Prostitution of our Souls

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

In the realm of Spirituality the battle is between our baser self, our Ego or Nafs, considered the source of all that is animalistic, hedonic, selfish in Humankind and our higher, purer, cleaner self, our Soul or Ruh which takes us towards Higher Consciousness and Godliness.

But what if the Soul itself is overwhelmed by the Nafs and they become one?

What if all that differentiated a human from an animal, the latter only existing  to fulfil their instincts of survival and self preservation, with loyalty to none, except the Jackal, stronger and more powerful, no longer exists?

What if the Soul allows itself to be bought, sold and prostituted to the highest bidder, no matter who, simply to acquire more power and wealth and to support evil in all its forms and shapes?

I never thought I’d ever see a day when a soulless society would sink to such depravity and collectively prostitute itself.

But we did see that day on 3rd October, and to take a line from Roosevelt’s speech,   *”A date which shall live in infamy”!*

A day when we witnessed a shameless, spineless, gutless group of people prostitute their souls.

A day, with our heads hung in shame, we witnessed how a liar, a cheat, a money launderer, a forgerer, a corrupt criminal, who betrayed the public trust, who looted and plundered the nation’s wealth and was finally found guilty and unfit to hold public office by its highest court of law, was re-elected president of a political party, by those who prostituted their souls.

3rd, October, 2017 will long be remembered as the day this spineless, gutless society saw even the pretext of self respect, dignity and honour, stripped of its snivelling gutless body and torn into shreds.

In the words of George Orwell in Animal Farm, the onlookers from *”……outside looked from pig to man and from man to pig, and from pig to man again but already it was impossible to say which was which….”*

What we witnessed on 3rd October 2017, was not the triumph of democracy over judicial activism or latent militarism or attempts to subvert the writ of the people, as the pig-humans say, but the manifestation of the depraved depths to which our collective souls have fallen.

What we witnessed was how evil triumphs over good.

How Yazeediath can triumph over the purity of Hussainiyath!

How people who once were aligned to good are now the torch bearers of all that is evil, corrupt and depraved.

How these purveyors of evil and the prostitutes of their souls justify to themselves and to others and to their children and families their actions, simply stuns me.

How can and will they look their children squarely in the eye, and those that look up to them, and explain to them why the sided with all that is evil and sold their souls?

What scares me is the acceptance of evil as something good in Pakistan.

What scares me is the acceptance of a criminal as a leader, by a large segment of our society.

What scares me is the acceptance of a narrative which muddies the water so that no one know what is what.

What scares me is how many amongst us accept the branding of good people as evil, of good as evil.

What scares me how many good people amongst us vigorously and passionately defend and support this mass scale prostitution of the soul of our society, including their own!

But above all, what scares me the most is the abject servility and spinelessness of those who know this is wrong, but yet keep quiet and slink away to live another day of slavery and cowardice.

History is full of such tragic moments in similar marches of folly. Even by once great nations, ultimately leading to their inevitable death.

Our only hope lies in getting “good, fit and proper” men and women into positions of public governance so we can start rebuilding this nation from the ashes of our prostituted souls!

And for that to happen the system has to change so that competent and honest people can administer this lost society and unleash it’s great potential.

As Margaret Meade put it so aptly

*”Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has”!*

Rise against this terrible evil, people of Pakistan, before we prostitute ourselves beyond redemption!

Urdu version

*ہماری روحوں کی عصمت دری*

*سید حیدر رضا مہدی*

روحانیت کے میدان میں ہمارے اندر ہماری اپنی ذات، ضمیر اور نفس کے درمیان کشمکش جاری رہتی ہے۔بنی نوع انسان میں پائی جانے والی خود پرستی، خود غرضی ہمارے اندر کی حیوانیت کا اظہار ہوتی ہے۔ اس کے بر عکس ہمارا صاف باطن اور پاکیزہ روح ہمیں شعور، انسانیت اور دین داری کا درس دیتے ہیں۔

لیکن اگر نفس روح پر قابو پالے یا وہ دونوں یکجا ہو جائیں تو کیا ہوگا؟

اگر روح خود ہی زیادہ طاقتور اور دولتمند کے پاس زیادہ قیمت لگنے پر بکنے اور اس کے ہاتھو ں بے آبرو ہونے پر رضامند ہو جائےتو پھر ہم ہر قسم کی برائیوں کا مجسم کیوں نہ بنیں؟

مجھے تو کبھی گمان بھی نہیں گذرا کہ میں ایسا بے ضمیر معاشرہ دیکھ سکوں گا جو اپنی عصمت دری کروانے کے لئے اخلاقی طور پر اس قدر گر جائے گا۔

لیکن 3۔اکتوبر کے دن ہم نے یہ واقعہ ہوتے دیکھا جوروزویلٹ کے الفاظ میں اس تاریخی دن کو امر کر گیا۔

اُس دن ہم نے بے شرم، بزدل اور کمزور لوگوں کا گروہ دیکھا جنہوں نے جسم فروشوں کی طرح روح فروشی کی۔

اس دن ہم نے دیکھا کہ کس طرح ایک جھوٹے اور دغا باز شخص کواپنی روح کا سودا کرنے والوں نے ایک سیاسی جماعت کا دوبارہ سربراہ بنا دیا۔اُس منی لانڈرنگ کرنے والے، جعل ساز اور کرپٹ مجرم کو  جس نے عوامی مینڈیٹ سے غداری کی، جس نے قوم کی دولت لوٹی اور مجرم گردانے جانے پر عدالت عظمیٰ نے  اس کوسرکاری عہدے کے لئے نا اہل قرار دے دیا۔

3۔اکتوبر 2017 ء کا دن بڑے عرصے تک یاد رکھا جائے گا جس دن  ہمارے بے ضمیر معاشرے کا ایک ایسا روپ دیکھا گیا جب اُس نے اپنے مکار جسم  سے عزت نفس، عظمت، وقار اور تعظیم کا لبادہ اتار کر تار تار کر دیا۔

جارج ویل کے اینیمل فارم کے الفاظ کے مطابق باہر سے دیکھنے والوں کو کبھی خنزیر انسان میں بدلتے اور سور انسان کی شکل اختیار کرتے نظر آئے۔اور پھرسور سے انسان بنتے نظرآئے۔ پھر فرق کرنا ممکن نہ رہا کہ کون کیاہے۔۔۔

ہم نے جو 3۔اکتوبر 2017 ء کو دیکھا وہ جمہوریت کی عدالتی عمل پر فتح نہیں تھی، نہ طے شدہ عسکریت تھی اور نہ ہی رائے عامہ کو سر بلند کرنے کی کوشش تھی۔ بلکہ انسانوں اور خنزیروں میں فرق نہ کر سکنے کی مانندہماری روحوں کا پاتال میں گرتے چلے جانے کا واضح اشارہ تھا۔

ہم نے دیکھا کہ کس طرح برائی نیکی پر غلبہ حاصل کرتی ہے۔کس طرح یزیدیت پاکیزہ ترین حسینیت کو تاراج کرتی ہے۔ وہ لوگ جو کبھی حق کے لئے یک سُو تھے وہ اب کس طرح کرپشن، ضمیر فروشی اور ابلیسیت کے حاشیہ نشین بن گئے۔

یہ اپنی روحوں کے دلّال اور بدکاری کے پاسبان جس طرح اپنے بچوں، اپنے خاندان اور لوگوں کے سامنے اپنے گناہوں کی صفائی پیش کر رہے تھے اسے سن کر میں ششدر رہ گیا۔

وہ کس قدر ڈھٹائی سے دیکھنے والوں اور اپنے بچوں کی آنکھوں میں آنکھیں ڈال کر بتاتے ہیں کہ انہوں نے برائی کا ساتھ کیوں دیا۔

مجھ پر تو پاکستان میں برائی کو اچھائی کے طور پر تسلیم کر لئے جانے پر خوف طاری ہے۔

مجھے تو خوف لاحق ہے کہ معاشرے کے بہت بڑے طبقے کی طرف سے ایک مجرم کو لیڈر تسلیم کر لیا گیا۔

میں خوفزدہ ہوں کہ اندھیر نگری چوپٹ راج والا موقف اپنانے پر سب بے خبر ہیں کہ کیا ہو رہا ہے۔

مجھے اس بات کا قلق ہے کہ ہم میں سے بہت سے لوگوں نے برائی پر اچھائی کا ٹھپہ لگایا او ر بھلے لوگوں کو برا سمجھنا شروع کر دیا۔

میں ڈرنے لگا ہوں کیونکہ بہت سے اچھے لوگ اپنی ذات سمیت بڑے پیمانے پر ضمیروں کی سودے بازی کا ساتھ دے کر ببانگ دہل برائی کی حمایت کر رہے ہیں۔

سب سے زیادہ دکھ مجھے ان لوگوں کی بزدلی، کمینگی اور عصمت فروشی پر ہے جو اسے برائی سمجھتے ہیں مگر غلاموں اور خستہ حالوں کی طرح زندگی گذارنے کے لئے دبک کر بیٹھ جاتے ہیں۔

تاریخ اس طرح کی حماقتوں کی یلغار کے افسوسناک واقعات سے بھری پڑی ہے۔یہاں تک کہ کبھی کبھی عظیم قومیں اسی وجہ سے بالآخر موت کی وادی میں اتر گئیں۔

ہماری آخری امید یہ ہے کہ کسی طرح معقول اور موزوں لوگوں کو اداروں میں تعینات کیا جائے ہماری آبرو باختہ روحوں پر قوم کی تعمیر نو کا کام شروع کر سکیں۔
اس کام کو سر انجام دینے کے لئےنظام میں تبدیلیاں لانی پڑیں گی تاکہ اہل اور ایماندار لوگ اس گمراہ معاشرے کی توانائیوں کو بروئے کار لائیں۔

مار گریٹ میڈ کے مناسب الفاظ میں،”یاد رکھنا  پر عزم لوگوں کا چھوٹا سا گروہ دنیا کو بدل سکتا ہے “۔یقیناً ایسا ہی ہوتا آیا ہے۔ اس سے پہلے کہ ہم  اپنی روح کی دلالی سے نا قابل اصلاح ہوجائیں، آئیں اور پاکستان کے شیطان صفت لوگوں کے خلاف ڈٹ جائیں۔

*مصنف کا تعارف:*
سید حیدر رضا مہدی پاک فوج کے سپیشل سروسز گروپ کے کمانڈر مرحوم کرنل ایس جی مہدی کے قائم کردہ سٹریٹیجی سٹڈی گروپ کے موجودہ کنوینر ہیں۔حیدر پاک فوج کے سابقہ افسر، کارپوریٹ رہنما، منیجمنٹ کنسلٹنٹ، کاروباری شخصیت اور کثیر الجہتی سرمایہ کار ہیں۔کینیڈا میں قیام پذیر ہونے کے باوجود پاکستانی پاسپورٹ رکھتے ہیں۔وہ جنوبی ایشیا، مشرق وسطیٰ اور علاقائی جغرافیائی سیاست میں گہری دلچسپی لیتے ہیں۔