Last week was dominated by the two Sharifs. One was defensive while trying to sound tough, while the other was trying to fan the fire with higher moral ground. The change-mongers tried to get on the high horse. All in all, what did this all accomplish? A visibly tilted civil-military equation in favour of the mighty and populist military. Who benefits from this tilt? Certainly not the screaming opposition parties. Or least, the ‘awaam’ – the hoi polloi.

From the Sunday speeches if one thing is clear ,it is that no one seems to be interested in real issues of accountability. Everyone appears to be on a Get-Nawaz spree rather then Get-Corruption. Peoples Party, as major stakeholder of ‘anti-corruption’, wants the parliament to handle it. There is a shared interest in the investigation of financial impropriety. PTI wants it focused solely on the Prime Minister. How could it allow a Commission formed on their own demand, to investigate something that could very well get some important people in its own ranks! Little do they know that the Men at their Best have their own plans. When the time comes, they might not even get a respectable, mention-worthy share of the pie. There are things, which are non-negotiable for the Men when they come. Complete control is just one of those.

The Rawalpindi mantra of across-the-board accountability is as hollow as politicians’ rhetoric. While cooing about the corruption being linked to terrorism, someone was either clueless of the happenings in their own institution or was handsomely economic on reality at best, or outrightly dishonest at worst. The action that came as follow-up of his across-the-board chant was hardly an instance of real accountability.

Otherwise a copious tweeter, the twitter account handled by the General at the top of military’s information factory remained conspicuously silent that day. Making sure that everyone who mattered should get the message and talk about it too, while remaining behind the scenes itself, was a brilliant strategy by the Directorate. At least from the army’s perspective. The ranks might not have been very pleased to see their establishment going public with the outcome of corruption investigations going on within the institution. This is not the accountability they know of or approve of. Such is their sense of impunity. Public shaming is good only if it is done with politicians and rights activists.

Keep in mind the keyword here: Across-the-board. If people from the political landscape had ever meant it in the real sense of the world, they would have come up with a wide-ranging penal and preventive framework to address the menace of corruption. They would have seen to it while inside the Parliament that basic machinery to work on corruption has strategic roadmap to ensure both aspects – penal & preventive – to hit the scourge.

They would have had a shadow cabinet within opposition and would have come up with a comprehensive legal framework to oversee and prevent, for example, the conflict of interest infesting all our institutions including the Parliament. Industrialists, big landlords, the politico-religious elite and the traders would not have been at the helm to decide for the poor and the working classes in absentia. The parliamentary parties of even the change-mongering political parties would have been a bit more representative of the populace of Pakistan. Put all the parliamentary parties and central leadership of all – I repeat – ALL political parties together and you would get a mass of individuals that doesn’t look like Pakistan. The real Pakistan, which is diverse enough to have multiple ethnic, religious and sectarian identities as well as various social, economic and cultural groups can’t be seen being represented in any of these parties squealing for accountability.

Coming back to the recent originator of the keyword. The institution would be better served if real accountability were initiated instead of trumpeting about a superficial process already going on since ages, as something of a newfound calling. The action that is being flaunted as ultimate step for internal accountability is laughable at best. Out of the six (or were they 13? No one knows with certainty) ‘suspended’ (or simply forced retired with pension benefits?) senior officers, the graft amount that was circulated was to the tune of Rs 286 billion, which it was claimed (through unknown sources obviously) came from postings in Balochistan and Karachi. The amount, we’re told, is coming back to the exchequer. It remains to be seen if they are talking about the national exchequer or the Army’s exchequer.

The rumours had it that the graft money was taken from the smuggling racket active on Pakistan-Afghanistan border at Chaman and works through Karachi too. This route is mainly used for inter alia the smuggling of weapons, oil and stolen cars. The Chief was right to this extent when he said corruption was linked to terrorism. Smuggling of weapons, that too from Afghanistan! Isn’t it familiar? We have been talking since years about RAW providing weapons through Afghanistan to the terrorists fighting the state of Pakistan. Point to ponder, is RAW working through our own officers? He might like to see inwards in his own institutions to find solution to this riddle. Politicians can’t do it, especially when their credibility is engineered to fall below freezing point through anti-democracy and anti-politicians rhetoric propagated by anyone and everyone who is aligned with Rawalpindi. So much so that a recent film produced with the blessings of the Directorate appears to be very un-smartly anti-politicians.

More importantly, since the smuggling is still happening, the Chief might like to initiate a full-fledged inquiry into how the system leaked and who is involved in the smuggling even after the ‘internal accountability’ has already happened. The Men are really at their best. They have made everyone sing praises for their ‘accountability’ drive without even touching the issues of overstepping the mandate and outright corruption by paramilitary forces in Karachi and Balochistan. Above all, the monopoly exercised by the MilBus. May be some other time on this. No one even touched the issue of election frauds that some sacred institutions have been involved with. No one asked about the reports like Hamood-ur-Rehman Commission and Ojri Camp Commission, which never saw the light of the day. Talking about bringing the security sector under parliamentary oversight remains a mad dream. Accountability much!

Nothing of this should suggest that the ruling party should avoid accountability or any call of holding the rulers accountable would be wrong. It is just that this is not really happening. The across-the-board accountability calls unfortunately are mere sloganeering for petty self-interest. Those who have used this keyword must understand how they are playing with the future of this country by using the conflict for their advantage. Everyone of these shrieking individuals, groups and institutions would be doing a great favour to this country if they do their own job with honesty and with putting the national interest at the top priority rather than power-mongering and their immediate institutional interests. None of you is bigger and mightier than Pakistan. Learn.