Punjabism is based on the idea that power arises and stays in Punjab first,
that anyone who disagrees with Punjab is a traitor.

By Syed Kamran Hashmi | August 2020

The failure of Pakistan to emerge as a model Muslim state is disturbing. Most people blame the ruling elite, financial corruption, nepotism and sheer incompetence. Though the criticism also includes the military and civil bureaucracy, it is the politicians who have to face the brunt. This frame of mind explains why the urban middle class fixes its hopes on anyone who promises change and accountability. People do not mind if that particular messiah has himself taken an unconstitutional route to come into power, a route in which he has trampled over the people’s right to choose, the right to speak up and the right to govern themselves.

Some decades ago, in 1999, when General Musharraf overthrew the elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, sweetmeat shops ran out of sweets. People were celebrating and congratulating each other on the streets when the incoming general announced his seven-point agenda and promised accountability from top to bottom. Almost no one supported the Sharif family then, including the Pakistan People’s Party. However, General Musharraf failed to deliver his promises over time. Corruption, instead of going down shot up - and he was forced to step down after eight years in power.

Musharraf’s slogan for accountability never died though. It was picked up and carried forward by Imran Khan, then an insignificant opposition leader, who gained popularity and won the support of the masses by following a simple rule: beat the drum against corruption louder and louder. This clicked with the people. He is in power today and he meets the same challenges that General Musharraf did. It is true though that after two years of NAB’s hyperactivity against the opposition, not a single penny has been recovered. Should people lose hope in Imran Khan’s ability to perform as they find themselves further tricked with nonsensical explanations like bad team and good captain, honest leader and corrupt nation?

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