There are many derogatory references to Pakistan in Indian popular culture, the most prominent being a persistent need to call the toilet the name of India’s western neighbour. The practice is so mainstream that unlike most other things, the hate for Pakistan unites disparate regions of the country. Pakistan has been called a failed state, a tinderbox waiting for the next spark to explode into nothingness and its nuclear arsenal falling into the arms of the loonies of the Muslim fundamentalist right.
But that country and its judiciary has done what India has not. Even with the military taking over governance in the country in successful coups, Pakistan has sentenced a prime minister as strong as Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and her husband for corruption.
Sharif was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined 8 million pounds, his daughter Maryam 7 years in prison and 2 million pounds and Sharif’s son-in-law Captain Safdar has been sentenced to a year in prison by a National Accountability Bureau court. The case revolves around the family’s buying properties abroad and not revealing their sources of income. With all the three in England for the cancer treatment of Sharif’s wife Kulsum, the judgement also comes ahead of the elections to the Pakistani parliament, the National Assembly, on July 25. The three can appeal the order in the High Court.
Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz, is now led by his brother Shehbaz. Sharif has dismissed the order as a political ploy and had been unseated in the case which came out as part of the Panama Papers. Similarly, the prime minister of Iceland Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson had to resign after the overseas riches of his family were revealed in the Panama Papers.
In India, where there are some popular names on the Panama Papers list, the case is sitting coiled like a snake in the Great Indian Rope Trick in some corner of a database or an almirah apart from some token action. Its existence comes to mind only when morality succeeds in some tiny country like Iceland, which also qualified for the FIFA World Cup in Russia, or when the judiciary in India’s “enemy” strikes at those in power.
If one can recall, during the run-up to the 2014 elections, a leading call had been that people better vote for Modi or go to Pakistan. Was it a huge backhanded compliment to the land across the Radcliffe Line?