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Corruption, Imran Khan, Pakistan, Pakistan Politics, Panama Papers

Imperfect Choices

Never a dull news day in Pakistan, is there? So much happened today! Here are some thoughts going through my mind…

First things first: the Sharifs are convicted criminals and the state must secure their arrest as soon as they reach Pakistani jurisdiction. No question in my mind about that.

Had they been in court for the verdict, as they should have been if they respected the rule of law and orders of the Court, they would have been arrested from there and taken to jail in a prison van. This whole “we want to address our supporters” nonsense is just noise.

No ordinary convicted criminals would be afforded the opportunity to make a public address. That should be no different for them. It is also the state’s responsibility to ensure the arrest is made in as safe & efficient a manner as possible, without the use of unnecessary force.

Everyone, even convicted criminals, has the right to be treated with appropriate respect & dignity as human beings, and that should be ensured in their case. Unnecessary use of force should be avoided and women officers should be on hand, as one of the convicts is a woman.

At the same time, the state must ensure public safety. If the Sharifs are given the opportunity to engage with the public, there is a clear risk of a breakdown in law & order, which the caretaker government must evaluate and formulate a strategy to mitigate. It would make sense to transport them, straight off the plane, via helicopter, directly to jail.

They certainly have the right to appeal and seek suspension of sentence and/or bail from the High Court. Until such time as that is granted, however, they are convicts, and belong in prison. No question in my mind about that.

As for their supporters, who wish to exercise their right to express their disagreement with the Court’s decision or their admiration for the convicts, they should be facilitated. The state should provide an appropriate location & proper security for a protest.

Public protest is very much part of democratic evolution. As is disagreement and difference of opinion. Which brings me to my next point: what IK said about people going to Lahore airport to greet the Sharifs was totally inappropriate.

Calling people donkeys draws a laugh but IK’s not a comedian. And as much as he and I and a lot of us disagree with their glorification of criminals convicted for corruption, it is their right to do that, and we need to respect both that and their intelligence.

You could call them misguided, you could call them short-sighted, you could even call them complicit & beneficiaries of a corrupt system, but you cannot call them stupid. People are smart. They don’t always make logical choices, they don’t always make moral ones, but they always make smart ones. For them.

There are no perfect choices in life. Believe me, IK isn’t one either. By a long way. We have made him our choice, though, and some people think we are stupid for having done that. But we are smart. We have thought this through. We understand that our choices aren’t perfect. But we also need to have the humility to accept that their supporters aren’t any different.

Did you read my College Bully and Sidekick thread? That’s an illustration of the imperfect choices we are faced with.

And they’ve done a really good job with their spin, don’t forget. From victim, to revolutionary, from sick wife, to elderly mother, from “Iqama pe Nikala” to “Corruption Sabit Nahi Hui”, they have played this well. So cut people some slack. It’s easy to get sucked in.

It’s up to us to remind their supporters how disgracefully the Sharifs have acted throughout this. They’ve lied, not presented a shred of evidence, relied completely on technicalities in court and spin in the public.

The Sharifs are totally corrupt, unimaginably wealthy, and supremely arrogant. The whole “narrative” they’ve built is nothing but a web of deception and deflection. They are neither victims nor revolutionaries, and they deserve every bit of what they are going through.

But we have to admit that the process is flawed and there is a lot to done to fix this system, to empower state institutions, to take our fledgling democracy to the next level, to rebalance the civil-military equation. This is but a first small, imperfect step in a long journey.

 

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About Ahmer Murad

Husband, father of two boys, financial manager in the pharmaceutical industry, Liverpool fan, Karachiite. Humanity, peace & justice.

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