NOTES FROM A SOCIAL SCIENTIST
By Dr. Haider Mehdi
This column is being written without bias, prejudice, pre-judgments or any party affiliation. It is a conceptual and analytical reflection on the state of affairs with which this nation of 180 million people is faced with – So help me God!
Irrespective of the May 11th general elections, God knows exactly what happened at the polling stations countrywide, the ground reality is that PML-N has emerged as victors at the center and in the Punjab province, and it is poised to administer national affairs.
The question is: Will it succeed in its public mandate? It needs to be mentioned here that there is a general perception among many political circles and a significant number of common citizens that this has not been a credible election – It has been rigged, pre-planned, pre-organized and meticulously manipulated, by the powers that be (at national level as well as in Punjab) with the technical and financial help of a leading foreign power and its allies; US strategic objectives and interests fully collaborated in this scripted plan.
Awaz khalq ko nakara ay khoda sumjo (public perception is a reflection of an existing reality). But let us give the PML-N the benefit of the doubt. And yet, it has to be ascertained how this general public perception of discredited elections will affect the PML-N’s strategic political management of the country.
Obviously, the PML-N leadership will have to perform par excellence in its political management in the resolution of multi-faceted, urgent, complex and serious national problematics with efficient, prompt and effective measures. But whatever the PML-N regime does in the immediate future, the results will have to be felt at the general public level immediately. The 5 years of PPP’s so-called democratic era has left the nation with unprecedented deprivations, and relief to the public in terms of their pressing problems is going to be the major challenge to PML-N’s incoming government. Is it not a fair assessment of the prevailing political ground realities?
However, the vital problem is this: PML-N is politically, ideologically, and in the context of its perspective on political management and its current management team, mismatched to the basic and important requirements of a fundamental political transformation in the country for an overall change.
The fact of the matter is that PML-N is a Right Wing, ideologically traditional, politically and economically status-quo-oriented party. Its entire upper leadership has remained more or less unchanged. Its prominent election winners are the same people, same faces – the PML-N upper tier leadership is the same team which was the symbol of a failed opposition in 2008-13 and well before that (at least, that is the strong perception held by the younger Pakistani generation at large and in several influential political circles). The PML-N leadership has been timelessly affiliated with a pro-American/Western-centric foreign policy and a global political view more in conformity with the overall American/Western strategic interests rather than in the pursuit of a purely Pakistani perspective on domestic and global affairs.
Given the aforementioned reality, how can PML-N be politically and ideologically compatible with a notion of a “Naya Pakistan”? – the “Naya Pakistan” of its future generations – the “Naya Pakistan” of a previously silent majority that is demonstrating in the streets all over the country and demanding their fundamental rights – demanding a welfare state out of the ashes and debris of a destructive past at the hands of its ruling elite (to which the PML-N has been a part).
Without any contempt intended, without any prejudice or bias, the fact is that the PML-N political management actors are the same people, same faces who have failed this nation before in many ways. This is a part of the historical analysis; otherwise, how can we explain the deplorable national situation that exists in today’s Pakistan?
Hence I believe, as a common citizen of Pakistan, that I am entitled to ask the PML-N Quaid a serious philosophical question: What could hpw possibly transform these people (members of your political management team) suddenly into messiahs for this deprived nation for deliverance out of poverty, daily deprivations and unpardonable miseries and hardships inflicted on them by these very people responsible for decades of political and economic mismanagement?
Mind it, my focus here is on an important matter of political-economic strategy and this country’s management during the forthcoming PML-N’s administration in Islamabad. Here is my considered view: The basic issue of today’s Pakistan is not the absence of a bullet train from one end of the country to the other end or the promised initiation and execution of this technological marvel. Nor will the privatization of banks and other national commercial institutions such as the railway, PIA, the steel mill, etc. resolve the number one problematic of this nation. Neither will more capitalism and our foreign friend’s financial assistance and its related political agenda take care of Pakistan’s fundamental issues.
In our country, capitalism has failed as an economic system. Foreign assistance has not resolved our issues; it has multiplied our problems. Pakistan’s political managers, in all these years, have been inconsistent, incompetent, uninformed and unpardonably have sought personal vested interests. They have looted this nation and deliberately acted against the interest of this nation. They have been unethical and uncaring in their approach to the country’s political management – so much so that successive regimes of military-civilian rulers have been unable to identify the major issue confronting this nation and its ideological platform.
Let me identify, for the PML-N Quaid’s benefit, Pakistan’s major issue: It is the ever-increasing wedge between the majority of have-nots and a very small minority of haves who also have timelessly controlled the country’s political power for their personal economic gains and profits. It is the prevailing political-economic system that is decimating the very foundations of this nation. My question to the PML-N Quaid is: Are you going to challenge this burnt out and “farsooda” system? And how are you going to do it? The PML-N political manifesto does not seem to address or offer any substantial political discourse specifically dealing with the eradication of growing poverty in this nation. It is an extremely serious business and requires a pro-active political ideology and actions that the PML-N management team seems to lack.
Hence, there is a need to dismantle the PML-N’s former political manager team and induct a fresh team of professional experts in PML-N’s new administration of 2013.
It is the considered opinion of many leading political and social scientists that bankers, traders, industrial entrepreneurs, civil bureaucracy and military establishment cannot resolve the basic issues of a class-divided society such as present-day Pakistan. (They lack capabilities and expertise to accomplish such an arduous job.) Empowerment of people at all levels, administrative reforms and de-centralization of political structures are the key elements to democratic transformation and governance. How can the PML-N’s traditional political managers, who have conceptualized political power in a different frame of mind, fit into a new role fundamentally alien to them?
On another level of political management, the “Yes, Prime Minister…Yes, Mr. US Secretary of State” mantra will not serve the interests of this nation any more. Has the PML-N Quaid considered an alternate political culture in the corridors of power in Islamabad? It is a frightening prospect, but democracies do not work effectively without rejecting the notion of an omnipotent source of power within oneself and one’s “matwalas.”
In the much talked about “politics of reconciliation” and “serving the interests of democracy,” will the PML-N leadership let Imran Khan emerge as an effective and dynamic opposition leader in the true spirit of democratic norms?
Last but not least: Leaders are role models for their nations. Can the PML-N leadership disown the imperialist living style and protocol and live like the common people of this country?
Can they be “Qalandars” and the political saints of our times?
Mark my words, the Pakistani nation will be watching them!