Following the Supreme Court verdict on the NRO, the news has been, well nothing unexpected, but all in all, a rather entertaining day. The Supreme Court has told Interior Minister Rehman Malik that he’s in contempt of court, and has summoned him on December 24. Judging from tweets on this piece of news, folks from India and Pakistan, in a rare show of unity, seemed rather pleased about this. Now, if we can just get them to unite about issues like terrorism, Taliban, Tendulkar v/s Mohammad Yunus, et al, maybe the next decade will be witness to less Indo-Pak fights on the Internet.
The National Accountability Bureau, on the other hand, has woken up from its NRO-induced slumber, and has frozen all accounts of NRO beneficiaries, along with placing their names (excluding the President’s and the Governors’, who enjoy immunity under the Constitution) on the Exit Control List.
But it seems Ahmed Mukhtar conveniently forgot about that, and/or was living under a rock and didn’t realise, that despite his important post, he too had been placed on the ECL and was told by airport authorities that he could not go have some authentic chow mein anytime soon.
If that wasn’t enough, ulemas were served poisoned halwa. Daily Times’ spin is that they were dissidents who were wavering on the decision to declare suicide bombings as un-Islamic. All I have to say is that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Or breakfast.
Now, coming to my take on the whole issue. Yes, the Supreme Court verdict is extremely important; any piece of legislation that is in contradiction with the rest of the Constitution should, and has rightly so, been removed. Allegations ranging from corruption to murder are no light matter, and cannot be made to vanish in thin air by a magic wand. However, judging from the events of the first day following the NRO verdict, the PPP and even other political parties, don’t seem to have a visible strategy to deal with the enormity of the situation. If one had been born an optimist, it would have been nice to hope that the accused would offer to step down from their positions of power en masse and prove their innocence in the courts. Instead, we’ve seen silence, clichéd statements and Ahmed Mukhtar’s useless trip to the airport.
However, how much trust does one have in NAB? NAB and its predecessor, the Ehtesab Bureau, went after political opponents of the regime in power with a vengeance, and nearly a decade later, many of the cases were no closer to being solved before the NRO was introduced in 2007. Following the verdict, the need of the day is an independent accountability bureau, independent accountability courts and/or a stronger Public Accounts Committee in the National Assembly.
At the same time, let us not forget that a military operation is ongoing in the country and hundreds of people have died in the last few months alone in terrorist attacks. There is still time (although that window seems to be shrinking rapidly with faith in this regime at an all-time low) for this government to fulfill its responsibilities and promises. Tick tock.
Note: Recommended reading on the NRO fallout: