Screengrab from Sajid Tarar’s interview with New India Abroad /
Amid political, economic, and judicial crises, Pakistan voted in its long-delayed general election on February 8.
Ahead of the general elections, Pakistani-American businessman Sajid Tarar underlined that the problem with Pakistan is that the leader of the democracy is not “elected” but “selected.”
In conversation with New India Abroad, Tarar shed light on the hybrid system followed in Pakistan where someone else holds the reins of power, while the political party serves as a front.
According to Tarar the election cannot be termed a “democratic process.” “It is just another sham election,” he said, like the one that took place in 2018 and then in 2020. “There will be a Prime Minister just to show, somebody else will be running the country, and corruption will take place again,” the entrepreneur added.
“The biggest issue with Pakistan is we are still not sure what we need. Either we need a parliamentary system, either we need a democratic system or we need a hybrid system,” he told NIA in a video interview. Pakistan has had a hybrid system since 1951, he pointed out.
“The three major political parties don’t have democratic values, it is like a family enterprise,” Tarar said, adding that they cannot be called the “real representatives” of the Pakistani citizens. He underlined all key positions in the party are distributed within the families of the party in power, and they look outside only as the last resort.
The Pakistan Peoples Party led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the Pakistan Muslim League led by Nawaz Sharif, and Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were the key players in the general elections.
Tarar further criticised the dual citizenship status of people who are occupying high posts in the government of Pakistan. “Their kids are living in Toronto, London, or Dubai,” He said, adding that Pakistanis are the second highest property buying group in Dubai.
The businessman also highlighted the issue of overseas money, from the IMF for instance, not reaching Islamabad, and if it does, retaining it becomes an impossible job. “This has been an ongoing issue for years now,” he said.
Imran Khan has become more of a “religious” leader
Tarar raised concern about the high number of “sympathizers” of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) among the Pakistani diaspora as well as those living back home, regardless of their standing in life.
According to Tarar, Imran Khan is viewed and regarded more as a “religious leader” than a “political leader.”
Pakistani diaspora has not done well for themselves: Tarar
The entrepreneur opined that the Pakistani diaspora in the US have done well for themselves. “Most of the Pakistani diaspora here came without education, they came here for their economic reasons and that’s what they’re working on is fixing up their homes back home in Pakistan,” he said.
Tarar further remarked that making a difference for the community does not feature on the list of priorities for most of the Pakistani diaspora in the States.
“That is one of the reasons you can say that the biggest population of the Pakistani diaspora is in New York, and they do not have a single councilman who can represent them. Not a single Pakistani Congressman. This is not their priority,” Tarar asserted.