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Pakistan: The Irony of It All

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Pakistanis have been jolted by two major shocks this week. The first one is about massive rigging of the recently concluded Senate elections. The second one is the resurfacing of a 22 year-old scandal. One in which the military was accused of distributing money to politicians to win electoral favors. Both stories reflect the massive corruption prevalent among politicians and the military.

There were allegations of massive bribes being paid to members of the electoral college by the ruling party to tilt the Senate election in its favor. Apparently, the ruling party was not alone in the game. Other parties were also involved though they did not have the advantage of pillaging the national coffers for this job.

The Pakistani Senate comprises of 104 members that are elected for a term of six years. The arrangement is such that half of these members complete their terms in three years. Members of the national and provincial assemblies of Pakistan then elect new senators. This means that every vote counts. And every vote can be bought. There have been accusations that hundreds of millions of Rupees changed hands in the current elections.

The ruling party is still not happy with the success. The president of Pakistan, who is also the chairman of the ruling party, has formed a committee to investigate reports of party members voting for opposition party's candidates. Constitutionally, the president is not even allowed to have any political affiliations. One wonders if someone will form a committee to investigate his massive constitutional violations.

The other scandal is related to the distribution of funds to politicians by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in 1990. It was done to gain favorable election results. The Supreme Court has reopened a concerned petition and it has been revealed that many renowned politicians received millions of Rupees from the military. Needless to say, the spymasters were able to get what they wanted.

It all boils down to a simple fact: Pakistanis have been taken for a ride by everyone. Political representatives, who ideally should have been fighting for their rights, are buys filling their own coffers. The military has never followed its constitutional role. The end result is that Pakistanis are left at the mercy of extremists, mafias and feudal lords. All eyes are now on the Supreme Court and whether it will be able to punish the culprits.