When hypocrisy becomes the norm

It seems hypocrisy and deception are a norm rather than an exception in our society. From a citizen to the PM, cabinet members, judges, generals, journalists, and intellectuals all exhibit this normative behavior of deceiving rather than being upright and truthful when it comes to dealing with communal issues. Intellectual honesty and ethical behavior have become rarer in our society.

A citizen keeps their houses clean but throws garbage on the street. Violates traffic laws on daily basis and consider it smart driving. Pays bribes when they need some work done from a government agency, encroach on public land and willfully waste time at his office without feeling any remorse.

In an earlier writing I have already written in detail that our politicians are civilian dictators rather than Democrats. They violate their own party constitution and install their cronies to important positions that are loyal to party heads rather than to party or the nation. All three national politicians Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan, and Asif Ali Zardari are more concerned with their own rule at the cost of the nation rather than allow development of institutions that are independent and efficient. They game the system for their personal and family benefits.

Superior judiciary acts more like a political party than an institution with a mandate to ensure there is social justice in the country by operating within the bounds of laws, constitution, and legal precedence. Lawlessness in the country is an indication that system of justice has completely collapsed. Judges can’t hide behind the lame excuse that prosecution does not perform its job because in Panama case they have shown that if they want something done it can be done. They are concerned with fixing the politicians but do not show any concern to fix their own institution and punish lower judiciary for long and costly delays in closing cases. Despite this abject failure, they demand respect from the society. People show restraint in criticizing judiciary not out of respect but fear. Now there is public talk that an interim government of technocrats will be given extension through the superior judiciary and supported by the military. Judges should keep in mind that people are sovereign to grant a mandate to rule over them. Judges do not have the legitimate authority to take away that sovereignty of people and grant this mandate to an unelected body to make decisions for the nation. The doctrine of necessity has done enough damage to the nation. Judiciary is partially responsible for the bad foreign policy decisions of Gen Musharraf that made us a frontline state in the war on terror.

I have always been a proponent of freedom of expression and condemn any unlawful state aggression to impede work of journalists and media. But does freedom of expression give the right to intellectual dishonesty; use of fictional information; and twisting of facts to serve one’s own agenda. IB threats against ARY anchor Arshad Sharif is highly condemnable and unjustifiable. But where was his professional honesty when his channel was willfully using twisted facts to undermine an elected government. What did he do to convey to his channel that they are promoting fake news through their news and current affairs programs? But ARY is not alone Geo has also gone out of the way to promote pro-government narrative. These two have contributed towards a national polarization and deterioration of journalistic standards. Media especially those that have a long history of professionalism has to take corrective actions to improve quality of their reporting. They are confusing the nation in pursuit of their biased narrative rather than inform, educate, and empower. A harsh fact does not cause as much damage as a fake news presented as a fact.

DG ISPR held a press conference which in a way confirmed the earlier statement of Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal. Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor spoke as an information minister of a state rather than representative of a security organization. The key takes away for me was that silence has an expression. I would like DG ISPR to use this silence more often in matters that do not or should not concern military especially politics and politicians. He proudly stated that a soldier would even stop a COAS if he does not have a card with him to enter premises. But in our history soldiers entered PM houses and parliaments to occupy them for a COAS that was pursuing his personal ambition in the name of good intentions for the nation.

But DG ISPR is not alone, there are many intellectuals that are self-appointed spokesmen for the military and actively promoting a narrative that a clean technocratic government should be imposed on us. They are using good intentions as a justification to propose that politicians and political parties have failed hence an un-elected government of clean men should be imposed through the Supreme Court and supported by the military. DG ISPR spoke about everything under the sun but did not make any effort to ally those fears that military is not supporting such initiative as if he is not aware of this talk.

Bottom line is that we are hypocrites and deceiving ourselves every day. I always thought rule of law is the solution. But I have changed my position in last few months. Now I believe we can’t progress as a nation until we exhibit a more ethical behavior. Ethics has a higher value and respecting laws is a sub-component of it. An ethical person can’t be violating laws, tradition, and moral code. We have to first focus on our own individual ethical behavior in matters of the community rather than demand it from others while ignoring it ourselves.

By Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi