Prime Minister Imran Khan blames mafias in the country for obstructing and creating trouble for his government. Undoubtedly, a number of mafias operate in Pakistan and it is also a fact that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government is losing its battle with them.
In today’s Pakistan, a mafia exists in almost every field and profession. We have political, media, land, lawyer, doctor, bureaucracy, hoarder, dollar, trader, transport, student, NGO and religious mafias. They can take the country hostage for their vested interests. A recent flour and sugar crisis was a typical example of the working of mafias. It involved some industrialists, bureaucrats, politicians, transport owners and the media. The media created undue panic among the public. The crisis existed but the media portrayed as if Pakistan was facing acute famine. Some news channels reported roti prices had reached Rs70 a loaf in some parts of the country, which was absolutely wrong. The panic, created by mafias, brought the government to its knees. However, it cannot be absolved of delayed action to control the situation. It should have acted when wheat and flour supplies had started decreasing in the market two months ago.
Recently, public and goods transporter owners’ strike forced the government to withdraw an increase in traffic fines and toll on highways and motorways. Instead of promising to abide by traffic laws, transport owners and workers resorted to countrywide protests, which created shortage of fuel and food in different parts of the country. The government had to kneel down before them.
Few months ago, hundreds of lawyers stormed the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) in Lahore to settle a score with doctors, resulting in the death of at least three patients. The patients died due to the discontinuation of treatment after the lawyers attacked the country’s largest cardiac hospital. The lawyers also vandalised life-saving equipment and allegedly removed ventilators of patients. Hospitals are not attacked even during a war. The attack was a show of strength by one of the biggest mafias of Pakistan. Physical attacks on judges, policemen and litigants by lawyers occur routinely. The custodians of law have become more powerful than the law.
Few months ago, young doctors and paramedics had held the government and patients hostage with their strike, which started on petty issues and lasted for months. Thousands of patients were deprived of treatment of even minor operations, consultation, diagnosis and injuries on a daily basis.
In its Panama case judgment, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had compared the Sharifs and their government to the Sicilian mafia. The court decided to initiate contempt proceedings against the then PML-N Senator Nehal Hashmi for threatening judges and members of the joint investigation team probing Sharif family’s business dealings abroad. In a video clip, which went viral on social media, Hashmi had said, “Those carrying out investigations against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members would not be able to live in Pakistan. Listen! You ask the son of Nawaz Sharif to submit details of bank accounts. Who are you to ask him about his account details? We are workers of Nawaz Sharif, those who have made the Sharif family accountable (earlier) and (those) doing so (now) will not be spared… we will make an example of them. You are in service today and will retire tomorrow. We, the Pakistani nation, will make it difficult for you and your family to live in this country, like you are making it difficult for an honourable and conscientious Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.”
Most critics say the PML-N is still the biggest mafia of the country and it has deep roots in all segments of society and national institutions. Though defeated in the last election, it still controls the bureaucracy and other national institutions. The media is still its biggest partner and weapon. Leading media houses and their so-called analysts and anchors create rumours to malign Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government. They twist his statements and slip of tongue to defame the government. They are creating an impression that the PTI government has failed on all fronts. However, the fact is that they are mourning their own loss of billions of rupees of advertisement every year, which the Sharifs provided to them for their personal image-building at the cost of the national exchequer.
The international media and its affiliates in Pakistan have launched a smear campaign against the country and its institutions. It is clear that a section of the Pakistani media is toeing the line of the international media, which is controlled by the international establishment. Some media groups take pride in ridiculing national institutions, courts and defending former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. They created an impression that Nawaz Sharif would die if he was not allowed to proceed abroad for treatment. They are now propagating that his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, should also be permitted to leave abroad to be with him when he undergoes an operation, though he is seen dining at posh restaurants in London. It is clear that a section of the media is advancing the agenda of international forces to weaken the country. They are also trying to create political instability with rumours of deals of the Sharifs with the establishment and ouster of the PTI government.
Then, there is an NGO mafia, which receives money from abroad in the name of rights issues. They only highlight issues which their foreign masters like.
Prime Minister Imran Khan is right when he says that he is fighting mafias in Pakistan. However, he has failed to provide relief to the people in his first 17 months. Rates of all essentials, food, electricity and gas have doubled. Bad governance and inefficiency have been the main traits of his government. He should have come to power with better preparedness when he already knew he had to face mafias.