One implication of the Chief Justice-Malik Riaz scandal
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One implication of the Chief Justice-Malik Riaz scandal

One thing that bugged me from the beginning about the mainstream coverage Chief Justice received from about 2006 onwards was how easily and unproblematically people bought the idea that this guy was some sort of savior. That he was cut from different cloth as the rest of our political class. That Suo-Motuing everything from petrol prices (unjustified) to disappearances in Balochistan (more justified) betrayed a concern with the “aam aadmi” than anyone else in our political class. The basic perception was that he was a good man doing good things (we’ll conveniently forget that this great principled democratic force, along with his bench, validated Musharraf’s takeover and his referendum).

Well, the excrement has now hit the fan, and we have a slightly better sense of his personal failings. However, I would point out that corruption of this kind — and it is corruption, I hope no one will disagree — is built into our system. I believe that anyone who partakes in the system axiomatically has to partake in corruption of some sort. So it’s less about Iftikhar Chaudhry’s personal failings and more about the larger structure within which he is one agent. (I wrote a post a couple years ago on this issue titled “There’s no such thing as “good” or “evil” in politics”).


Anyone want to shower him with rose petals now?

Now, fast forward to today. We have another savior on the landscape who pretends that he’s above it all and that he will clean out corruption from the system and that he cares about the aam aadmi while the rest of these rascal politicians do not. I will not name him or even his party because prior experience has taught me that in order to avoid troll-supporters of this man and his party, it’s better to not mention him in the heading or body of the post to preclude avid googlers from showing up here.

My only point is that while I am sure this man has a great moral compass and sincerely believes he is capable of solving all of Pakistan’s problems by himself once elected to power, saviors don’t work. We don’t need saviors. We need incremental progress, working through the system. I know that doesn’t sound sexy or revolutionary enough to get likes on Facebook, but that’s what we need. The only people calling for “revolutions” are the ones who don’t know (a) how actual revolutions work, and (b) what happens after revolutions.

By the way, I’m not claiming that there aren’t valid reasons to vote for Mr. Unnamed and his party; of course there are. I’m saying that “he really cares about us and isn’t corrupt” is not one of those reasons. That logic, as we’ve seen in this current scandal, does not usually withstand the test of time (and power). Everyone — even people who were perceived to have halos around their head — is susceptible to this stuff. Just watch seasons 3 and 4 of The Wire if you don’t believe me.