Watan Ya Kafan
The Awami National Party (ANP) began its campaign with the slogan “Pur Amn Pakistan”. However, in the aftermath of the attack on the Bilours of Peshawar, an unofficial slogan came to the fore and has since taken over.
“Watan Ya Kafan” (Country or Shroud) sums up the stance of a group that is bloodied and cornered but yet proud and defiant. Not only does it signify ANP’s resolve but it also pays homage to the choice made by more than 700 of its martyrs.
One would assume that such gallantry would elicit praise from all quarters. But that is certainly not the case. Instead, there exists quite a strong sense of resentment. Polls indicate that, and my personal interactions corroborate it. By and large, the source of this resentment seems to be ANP’s financial corruption.
This belief is mostly backed by anecdotes. And one particular line that is quoted as the ultimate proof is “Baba ta easy load ka”, alluding that during ANP’s tenure bribing Haider Hoti’s father was necessary for getting things done.
Ironically, many of my friends who are utterly disgusted with ANP’s corruption, seem to have a different yardstick for their own financial integrity. One will claim a substantial inheritance from a father who was known for taking bribes. Another, a Government servant, is infamous for not even pardoning relatives when it comes to “fees”. But then both are completely disgusted over Baba’s “easy loads”. And they have every right to be, because hypocrisy of critics should not absolve the ANP of its crimes.
It would be ridiculous to claim that the ANP government was not involved in any corruption, but by the same token it would be naïve to rely just on anecdotes to associate it with corruption at unmatched levels. If the accusations are true and corruption was that widespread in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, then some indicator somewhere should capture it. Especially when compared with other provinces.
The Transparency International (TI) Pakistan is one such source. Its surveys for 2009 & 2010 provide estimates of the annual average provincial corruption expenditures. For both these years the sample from KP had one of the lowest corruption expenditures among the four provinces. For 2009, Khyber Pakhtunkha averaged at Rs. 3,454, while Punjab was Rs. 19,959. For 2010, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was the lowest among all provinces at Rs. 3,528, while the highest i.e. Punjab was at Rs. 17,791. This infographic has more detailed comparisons based on those statistics.
TI Pakistan didn’t consider these estimates in its provincial corruption ranking for 2010, as it was based on perceptions. It focused on just one question; for KP, the respondents were asked if the present Government (ANP) was more corrupt than the previous government (MMA). But here is the twist; for some odd reason TI chose Peshawar, Mansehra, Abbotabad and Haripur as representative districts for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
An anti ANP verdict from the Hazara division was inevitable, and this was presented as the perception of the whole province. This result was then used extensively in the media to label ANP’s government as the most corrupt. I wrote a more detailed piece on TI Pakistan’s methodology back in 2010.
While the jury is still out on ANP, lets focus a bit on this national obsession with corruption. Yes, corruption is a huge problem in Pakistan, but does it really overshadow terrorism? Last year, Pakistan had a total of 652 bombings leading to 1,007 deaths, that means an average of 2 bombings and 3 deaths per day! and this was one of our better years.
But yet survey after survey confirms that Pakistan considers corruption to be a bigger problem than terrorism. This is akin to a cancer patient citing a common cold as his biggest ailment. The difference between corruption and terrorism should be obvious from their respective units of measurement; rupees for corruption and deaths for terrorism. How big of a bribe can outweigh the death of one human?
The ANP’s biggest sacrifice is against the menace of terrorism. If it had followed MMA’s path, today some of its top workers and leaders would still be alive. But instead it took on the biggest monster of our times, and paid dearly for it. Ironically the ones so eager to bestow the title of “Pashtun resistance” on the Taliban refuse to even acknowledge this non-violent defiance.
Acknowledged or not, but the followers of Bacha Khan are meeting the standards that were set in Qissa Khawani in 1930, and Barbara in 1948. The villains might have changed but the resolve of these martyrs harks back to the days of Ghaffar Khan. It is a fact that the number of martyrs of ANP is comparable to those from uniformed outfits like the Frontier Constabulary, Police and Pakistan Army. Not a small feat for a political party.
However the comparison is really striking when done against other parties, especially the ones claiming ferocity of felines and natural disasters. This lot is faking complete oblivion to a danger that threatens the very existence of their proposed “Roshan” and “Naya” Pakistans.
Cowardice and opportunism seem to be the only apparent reasons for their silence. A convenient excuse is to declare the war against Taliban to be “someone else’s war”. But while Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan may have their own interpretations, Hakeem Ullah Mehsud has made it clear that his war is against Pakistan, whether its “Roshan” or “Naya” will not make a difference.
Today ANP has been left alone to fight a war for the survival and continuation of Pakistan’s democracy. After every bombing its battered leaders reiterate their demand for a timely election, one that their party is very likely to lose. It is a slap in the face of those who want to destabilize our democracy, but as a principled stance remains unappreciated by most Pakistanis.
Supporting the ANP doesn’t necessarily mean that one votes for it. Regardless of party affiliations the need is to provide a united front against the forces bent upon destabilizing democracy in Pakistan, and are presently focused on the ANP.
For those who still think ANP’s corruption doesn’t make it worth the effort, I propose the following calculation.
Step 1: Put a price on the life of a loved one.
Step 2: Multiply that price by 700.
Step 3: From this total subtract the biggest possible estimate for ANP’s corruption (make it KP’s entire budget if you may).
Lets see if the remainder is positive or negative.