On Friday, Germany’s President Christian Wulff resigned after prosecutors from his home province of Lower Saxony asked the Bundestag to strip him of his impunity so that corruption investigations could go to scale. Adequate proof was presented for the Bundestag (Parliament) to hear the appeal. President Wulff resigned the next day,choosing not to compromise or malign the position of the President or Chancellor Angela Merkel, his party colleague, at a time when she is facing increasing challenges over political and economic policy in the European Union. In contrast, Pakistan’s Supreme Court has had to prosecute a case against the Prime Minister of that country, for refusing to relinquish the impunity of President Asif Zardari, so that Switzerland could pursue their corruption investigation against him. And the resistance to bring this corrupt, autocratic President to justice continues. Question is, will the Supreme Court succeed in firstly, removing the impunity to prosecute the President, but more importantly actually initiate a mirror investigation against the President themselves?
The answer lies in the history of the individuals and the countries concerned. Germany is an economic vanguard and as such, has to maintain stringent anti-corruption legislation, including vetting and investigation of all public or publicly linked personas.
In Pakistan by contrast, President Zardari comes from a long line of feudal landlords, owners not only of land but the tenant farmers that work generations on that land. Feudalists are at the vanguard only of denying their client farmer families education, healthcare and equal participation in the political life of the country. Pakistan is a country that not only is endemically corrupt (please check the rating on Transparency International’s website) but corruption is actually the key constraint to achieve a higher level of political pluralism in the country, and increased and more transparent public political participation. Generations of Pakistanis have been ruled by dictum by feudalists like Zardari and others, who have prevailed till now in stifling social development (education, healthcare) and self realization for a majority of the rural poor. Feudalists are the worst kind of elites. They have been directly or indirectly responsible for the growing religious fermentation in interior Pakistan, by not allowing evolution and progress to multiply the life options for populations under their ambit. Their feudal system has persisted because feudists also compose the majority of the politicians and businessmen that dominate the increasingly narrowing spectrum in Pakistan – they self-perpetuate by protecting their own privileges and their suppression of the Pakistani masses. Zardari or Mr. 10% (a name he earned during His wife, Banazir Bhutto’s Prime Ministership) is guilty of mass corruption and nepotism of State resources. The Swiss government is right to push for his prosecution and the Supreme Court of Pakistan is right to prosecute the Prime Minister for protecting his fellow feudalist, President Zardari.
When you look at these two processes, on the face of it Germany and Pakistan have little in common on the judicial front except for parallel processes. However, when you look deeper, and consider that France for instance is also in a similar corruption investigation against their President but going the way of Pakistan, then one thing stands out clearly. Countries like Germany that host integral judicial investigations against public officeholders have a concrete contribution to make to countries like Pakistan in strengthening judicial application and process. For Germany, it might be a line of unusual technical support under ODA but for Pakistan, given the critical situation in their country, a fair outcome to this investigation could mean the big break in the systemic stranglehold of feudalism on the entire country. Is this not worth investing in?