Hypocrisy and defenders of democracy

Published: January 24, 2012

Mansoor sparked off the crisis that threatens to engulf the PPP, so he is obviously an enemy of all that is decent.

Hypocrisy may be the tribute vice pays to virtue but Pakistanis take it too far. Those who have appointed themselves as the defenders of democracy, the protectors of our military or the guardians of an independent judiciary have entered a Bermuda Triangle of political argument, where a black hole sucks in whatever logic once existed in their brains.

Let’s start with Mansoor Ijaz, or rather his critics. Here is the man who sparked off the crisis that threatens to engulf the PPP and so he is obviously an enemy of all that is decent and democratic. As a colourful businessman and self-considered diplomat, he has provided a lot of grist for the liberal crowd but his appearance in a raunchy music video should not have been one of them. Suddenly, all those who wrote earnestly on Veena Malik’s barely-covered breasts have discovered that they are outraged by near nudity. Veena was obviously a symbol of peace and tolerance but how can anyone take Mansoor Ijaz’s allegations seriously when he appears among bikini-clad wrestlers?

Then there are those posing as principled supporters of the Supreme Court as an independent institution to keep a check on the government. This crowd includes Sheikh Rasheed, whose relevance to politics is inversely proportionate to the amount of time he spends on the sets of talk shows.

His current rhetoric is in favour of the Supreme Court but his role has always been as a supporting actor for military interests.

So we have a man who was on the wrong side of two judicial coups – the one launched by Nawaz Sharif against Sajjad Ali Shah’s court in 1997 and Pervez Musharraf’s ouster of Iftikhar Chaudhry’s court in 2007, now pose as a man worried about how the PPP is not duly deferential to the judiciary and how about the military apologists, a gang so patriotic that they will even put aside their self-professed (but obviously fake) love for democracy because they are so worried about how the PPP is selling out this country.

Thus you have the spectacle of those who sat idly by as Musharraf sent Pakistanis to Guantanamo for cash, allowed drone strikes, and was reliant on US aid for fighting their war on terror, now criticise the PPP for doing the same. Their concern for our sovereignty is as fake as their supposed worries about how the PPP is damaging democracy. The only sovereignty they care about is that of the army over the civilians.

Anyone who begins a sentence with, ‘I support democracy but’ is secretly hoping the generals get back into power where they truly belong. What is most galling about the parade of hypocrites is that there are legitimate reasons to take any one of the positions espoused by these three categories.

Democracy truly is in danger in Pakistan, the independence of the Supreme Court does need to be respected and worrying about the PPP’s governance capabilities should not automatically make you an army stooge. But since the hypocrites tend to be the loudest and least reasonable they end up monopolising the debate.


Nadir Hassan

An Islamabad based journalist who tweets at @Nadir_Hassan.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.