As we continue to discuss the NRO and the Supreme Court, it might be a good idea to take a breath of fresh air and think for a minute about what the best way to move forward is for the nation, and what methods may seem to make sense, but would actually cripple the country. So that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past and continue the corruption and political vengeance that have been for too long a part of politics, Pakistan should avoid a process of political revenge and instead look for a Truth and Reconciliation Process to heal the nation.
PM Gilani and Nawaz Sharif have been discussing a new accountability law that could be the beginning of a way forward for the country that will allow us to put aside the differences and the past so that we may concentrate on the pressing issues of today.
Expressing the hope that the new law would help eliminate the culture of political victimisation, Mr Gilani said it had been drafted to meet future requirements.
The prime minister said he would continues with his politics of reconciliation and his government would not take any major step without consulting all the parties.
The two leaders decided to stop office-bearers and workers of their parties from issuing statements against each other.
This, along with the PM’s statements about the government’s plans to implement the Charter of Democracy bode well for the necessity of maintaining stability and order in our democracy. They show that both government and opposition leaders are looking for a way forward without resorting to tactics of the past.
This has the possiblity of a good beginning, but perhaps there is something missing that we can learn from the experience of South Africa after their apartheid.
Following years of corruption, racism, and tyranny under the political system called apartheid, South Africa found itself in a situation where it was ready to move forward, but had not figured out a way to allow people to move beyond the past. Knowing that under such a system many good people committed acts of corruption or tyranny that they would not have normally done, a group of leaders including Bishop Desmond Tutu founded a new way forward for South Africa called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
This commission sought to get the facts about the past out in the open air without creating a politicized backlash that only ended with revenge and a continued cycle of violence and corruption. Instead, it rooted out corruption and violence and let the people begin fresh.
Also in Iraq, after the Americans overthrew Saddam Hussein, they declared that no member of the Baath party could serve in the government because of the corruption during Hussein’s rule. But what they found was that this was not workable because most of the civil society and bureaucracy were Baath party members not because they supported Hussein or were corrupt people, but because that was simply how the system worked during that time.
If we say today, “nobody who has ever paid any bribe or taken any bribe in his lifetime can serve in government,” who will be able to pass this test? Perhaps there might be some saints among us who has never done any sins in his life, but for many career government employees and politicians, this is simply unrealistic. Even the Chief Justice Chaudry Iftikhar was an appointee of Gen. Musharraf. Is he not also tainted by the past?
The way forward in this time should not be to look for revenge. Neither should we be looking for some purge of sinners that leaves our government unable to function. Pakistan has for too many years been held back by petty political victimisation and revenge. This is what got us to the point that NRO was originally introduced. What we need now is some Truth and Reconciliation Process for Pakistan that allows us to finally clear the air and move forward so that leaders from all political parties and all regions of the nation can work on the important issues that are facing our country today. Only then will we finally root out corruption once and for all.