The recent “Parliamentarians Tax Directory”, released by the Federal Board of Revenue last week, at the behest of the Finance Minister, is now being referred to as the ‘Directory of Shame’ and a ‘Citizens Hall of Shame’.

The directory gives the names of all the 1,174 legislators of the country and reveals that 108 MNAs did not pay any taxes, while 120 lawmakers did not file their income tax returns and 90 lawmakers did not even have NT Numbers, as such, they  were tax defaulters.

This validates the sad situation, that most of our democratically elected parliamentarians are not honest nor law abiding citizens, as required by the Constitution of Pakistan and do not pay taxes and yet have a princely lifestyle.

They have lied and mis-declared their personal wealth while filing the Election Forms and have proved that they are unfit to govern us.  These leaders make tall promises to win votes during election time, but once in power, we become the ‘Forgotten Citizens’ and are left at the mercy of militants, gangsters and criminals.

In the past six years, both, past and present governments have failed to introduce any legislation that would establish good governance, protect the life and property of the citizens and improve the quality of their lives, by providing basic health, education and infrastructure.

Instead, they have shamefully wasted the tax payer’s money, by turning our assemblies into a circus, where parliamentarians thump desks, hurl abuses at each other and stage walk outs. So, can a fragmented, divided and dysfunctional nation be governed by leaders and parliamentarians, who are commonly known as Ali Baba and his forty thieves?  

The much heralded Karachi Clean Up Operation has proved to be a complete failure and the ‘life or death’ talks with the Taliban has turned into a fiasco and a tragedy of errors, forcing the government to invite the army to take over and sort out the mess.

Therefore, there is perhaps some justification, when General Musharraf’s supporters protest about the General being called a traitor and tried for treason and abrogating the Constitution, which our elected parliamentarians, past and present, have paid no respect to and repeatedly and have shamefully violated.

They charge, that it is the parliamentarians who should be indicted for treason and not the General, as they have betrayed the nation and the citizens, by failing to fulfill the oath of their office and have cheated the nation, by lying about their wealth and assets and by not paying their taxes.  

At the same time, we have two former PMs, who have been indicted for corruption and misusing their powers while in office, in the Power Rental scams and other related crimes.  In any other country, where there is system of good governance, a respect for the law and accountability, it is a matter of routine, for parliamentarians found guilty of corruption or violating the law, to resign. But not so in this land of the Pak and the Pure.

And on top of this mess, we have the debacle of the Taliban Talks. After months of confusion and huffing and puffing, during which hundreds of innocent citizens have been butchered, including army jawans and policemen, our leaders and parliamentarians have realized that  they cannot talk or negotiate with a group of hardened religious zealots.  

Last year, a young Sehar Tariq had written a bitter article, ‘I want my country back’,  which I am reproducing below, in which she shares her cries of anger, disappointment and frustration, which all of us  are now experiencing.

‘Eight years ago I boarded a plane to the US to go to college. I was 17 and as I left, my father hugged me and told me to never come back, because he believed that soon Pakistan would not be a country fit for me to live in, but we had laughed it off.

‘At that time, I was inspired, energized, hopeful and optimistic and was determined to prove him wrong. Today I am neither and I have lost the debate with my father about the fate of Pakistan’.  ‘The Parliament, by endorsing the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation, has heralded the end of Pakistan, as I knew and loved. When there is no hope, no optimism, no security, no justice, no education, no progress, no culture, then there can be no Pakistan’.

A recent survey carried out by The Wall Street Journal, based on conversations with security officials and urban planners, shows that TTP control nearly a third of its area, where at least 2.5 million people live. While our Interior Ministry informs us that the Taliban have infiltrated Islamabad, our Capital city.

 Young Sehar had realized and voiced her concern at that time, that the country was drifting down the River of No Return, towards the Niagara Falls and the rocks below, but we had refused to heed her warning nor read the writing on the wall and had simply buried our heads in the sand.

And today, we are burying our dead, as encouraged by the ‘Silence of the Lambs’, The Taliban are on the march, mercilessly killing and butchering innocent citizens  and spreading their deadly tentacles into our villages and cities.

It seems that the month of March will be the Ides of March for the General, as the Hon. Judges of the Special Court has rejected the General’s plea for a military trial and ordered the former President to present himself on 11th March, when the charge-sheet against him will be read out to him. So I guess the days of the dodges are over for the former Commando and the Day of Judgment will finally come.

But when we talk of democracy, the Rule of Law and good governance, let us ask ourselves, are our democratically elected Ali Babas and their Forty Thieves, are they fit to do the job and govern us? If not, then what is the other alternative?  

Therefore, before we label General Musharraf, a former COAS, a traitor, let us decide on the status of our parliamentarians, who have also betrayed us and violated our Constitution. 

That dear citizens, is the million dollar question that I leave you with and if you have the answer, then please post your comments and suggestion on HT’s facebook or Twitter. Till next week, stay well and safe.

 n email: trust@helplintrust.org