The cynicism of our politicians knows no bounds, and their manipulation of the corrupt milieu that they inhabit is occasionally a wonder to behold such is its blatant partisanship. The Leader of the Opposition, Khursheed Shah, is currently the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). He has used that position to legitimise unlawful actions that were taken during the last Zardari government, a time when the PPP was in power. It speaks volumes that his political colleagues from other parties have not raised a chorus of disapproval, presumably because they recognise that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander as well.
Around 7,000 people were illegally hired and illegal rental power plant projects (RPP) were made that in the end cost the exchequer as much as Rs86 billion in a saga that is as yet far from over. Mr Shah rode roughshod over the objections of the Director General of the Audit, who wanted to refer the decision regarding the unlawful recruitments to the National Accountability Bureau but Mr Shah was having none of that. He said that it was not possible to “snatch the livelihoods of the people” and in this he does have a point. However, an illegal appointment is an illegal appointment, and a very unfortunate precedent has now been set. Mr Shah also refused to take any action against the officials or former cabinet members who were part of the RPP fiasco in 2010. The actions of Mr Shah call into question the validity of anybody who is in the hands of political helmsmen (or women) and which is in any way connected to public accountability. If Mr Shah can whitewash the past for the convenience of his own party, then so can any other politician — and we may be sure that they will. The capacity for retrospective corruption in a country as corrupt as Pakistan is vast, and Mr Shah has just added a new page to the ‘Let’s cook the books’ handbook.