By Dr Haider Mehdi
October 11, 2011
“Ey parto khurshid jehan-tab idher bi,
Siye ki tarh, hum pay ajab waqt para hai.”
(O’ World-illuminating sun! Cast your splendour here (on us, in this direction) too;
a strange time, like a shadow, has come upon us.)
– Ghalib - Translation, Aijaz Ahmad
The Urdu metaphor, “is hammam meh sab nange hain” (everyone here is involved in the shameless charade of evil and weakness), fits perfectly to the prevailing conditions of Pakistan’s ailing and suffering democracy.
Political democracy, which is, in principle and essence, a system of governance to work for public welfare, enhancement of democratic institutions and people’s participation in decision-making at all levels of society, is being manipulated to serve the personal interests of the vested political class. Indeed, it is not a new political phenomenon; however, the pursuit of democratic ideals has never been betrayed like this before. Today’s Pakistan lives in a permanent state political promiscuity.
The Zardari-Gilani regime and its coalition allies, distrusted, considered unscrupulous and unclean politically, unchaste and wanton in political morality, and disowned by the majority of Pakistani people, seems to be completely unaware and uncaring of the public sentiment. The Zardari presidency considers “politics” a game of chess: The overall purpose is to “win” at all cost against adversaries and remain entrenched in political power for years to come - the nation is of no consequence with its multiplying and destructive problematics as long as political power remains vested in the PPP’s present leadership and its future dynastic plans. And yet, ironically, the jialas claim that the PPP and its leadership are serving the democratic interests of Pakistani masses - unmindful of the calamitous and critical state of affairs into which this regime has pushed the country. This nation has never been lied to before vis-à-vis ground realities with this level of consistency and gross political deception.
The entire nation knows that drone assaults against Pakistan’s own citizens are being conducted with the explicit complicity of the incumbent regime in Islamabad. The Prime Minister himself is rumoured to have told the former US Ambassador in Pakistan to continue the drone attacks, while his government looks the other way and protesting for public consumption. Sad, is it not? How much more unscrupulous can a political administration be?
Every citizen of this country is aware of the fact that Pakistan does not exercise an independent foreign policy. What we have is a “master-slave” relationship with the US and its allies even, to the extent, that the appointment of senior Pakistani diplomats is tactically approved in Washington and London.
Whatever the dimensions of the remaining foreign relation dynamics, the Pakistani army exercises virtual control over them. The total absence of civilian control over foreign affairs is an open secret. And yet, the regime in Islamabad continues to keep a deceptive attitude and unscrupulous charade of silence over its lack of democratic control and growing foreign intervention in Pakistan’s domestic and external affairs. Shameful, is it not? How far can this nation tolerate the unending violations of its sovereignty, dignity and national pride?
Most Pakistanis now seem to realise that the government is a national liability. The President’s and the Prime Minister’s approval ratings are dismal. The people have lost faith in the government’s ability, competence and handling of the economy. The national crisis is mounting and this regime’s failures are staring the nation in its face. And yet, Zardari is wholeheartedly focused on the political witchcraft of reconciliation with other traditional leaderships, in a “numbers game” to win the March 2012 Senate elections. The irony in this entire “game plan” is that the voice of the masses and their democratic aspirations are entirely disregarded in this willful and deceitful political manipulation. The fact of the matter is that given this regime’s three and a half year less-than-marginal performance and overall failures, it should have voluntarily resigned; that is how parliamentary democracies work. But political witchcraft is still a thriving art in the ruling circles of Pakistan, inclusive of other major parties and their leaderships.
In most democracies, these kinds of allegations (corruption, financial irregularities and political mismanagement in domestic and foreign relations) would surely be enough to remove a regime from political power. Yet, although the Zardari-Gilani position has collapsed to untenable parameters, the PPP leadership is busy consolidating its political control for an extended period in the future. How has this become a possibility?
The people lament that Pakistan is in financial, economic, political, social, cultural and diplomatic turmoil - at the verge of becoming a failed State. They are fearful of the country being declared a terrorist State by none other than their own allies. And place the blame of the impending crisis squarely on the main opposition party, the PML-N, for failing to play its democratic role in the parliamentary system.
The majority of Pakistanis question PML-N leadership’s tactical approach to not challenge the incompetence of the PPP, looking the other way at the chain of embarrassing PPP financial scandals and non-compliance of the Supreme Court’s judgments, all under the false pretext of saving the democratic system. Thus, the party’s leadership would be well advised to revamp its political strategic approach to remain relevant in Pakistan’s political spectrum.
As for Zardari’s political summersaults and manipulations, the PPP will be swept away in the political storm that is brewing in the hearts of Pakistani people.
The people’s revolution is in the making! It is only a matter of time! Telling lies in Pakistan’s politics will soon become self-destructive!
The writer is UAE-based academic policy analyst, conflict resolution expert and the author of several books on Pakistan and foreign policy issues. He holds a doctorate and a master’s degree from Columbia University in New York.
Source: The Nation, Islamabad