By Dr. Haider Mehdi
“(Dr.) Qadri…has firmly put himself across as the voice of Pakistan’s moral consciousness, rising to press the government for finally delivering the rights of ordinary Pakistanis.” -Farhan Bokhari, The Nation
Indeed, Bokhari has made a sound and appropriate observation in connection with Dr. Qadri’s sudden and yet vitally significant entry into Pakistan’s pre-election politics. The fact of the matter is that Dr. Qadri’s abrupt self-introduction into Pakistan’s political arena is no threat to the nascent democracy in the country. It is, on the other hand, a timely resplendent political action and a responsible political initiative to correct what is fundamentally wrong with this country’s contemporary political culture and its electoral process. And that, in essence, poses a grave threat to the incumbent ruling elite and its future plans to hijack the people’s mandate through decades-old fraudulent political practices – stealing people’s democratic rights by highly organized and manipulative methods of enormous anti-democratic significance.
The Pakistani public is well aware of how this charade is played out again and again with sentimental psychological symbols, meaningless democratic rhetoric, ideological and religious slogans, bribes, favors, use of government machinery and administrative force, “kunba-parveri” (nepotism) and so on and so forth. At last, the people of Pakistan are saying enough is enough – this must come to an end now.
Take a logical and rational view of Dr. Qadri’s massive public rally in Lahore. Combine this political event with Imran Khan’s jalsahs in Lahore and Karachi last year. Aren’t these immense political gatherings a public democratic referendum against the incumbent rulings parties, the PPP and PML-N? Aren’t these political rallies convincingly and openly public indictments against PPP and PML-N leadership? What other rational explanation is there of such a massive and collective expression of public dissatisfaction, distrust and rejection of the so-called democratic leadership in the country? How else can we understand this recently emerging phenomenon of “Public Political Discontent” expressed so vividly, so convincingly, so profoundly, so collectively, so peacefully, so powerfully, so purposefully, so democratically and with such a strongly united demand for a fundamental change in the ways and manners in which practical politics is conducted in this country.
Democracy is not being threatened by Qadri’s political initiative – it is being strengthened: The fact of the matter is that finally the forces of change and the status quo forces in Pakistan have come face-to-face for a decisive showdown. On the one hand is Dr. Qadri’s politically correct, valiant and well-timed call for public mobilization on January 14th, along with Imran Khan’s PTI’s as well as MQM’s auspicious political endorsement for change in Pakistan’s political culture, structural norms, rules and process of election practices. On the other hand is a dysfunctional, incompetent, corrupt, farsoodah (warn-out, outdated) political system and leadership that has failed to deliver basic human rights, economic well-being, political stability, justice and equality, safety and security, law and order, self-sufficiency, self-reliance, national dignity and honor. In fact, this so-called democratic leadership has vested interests, has compromised time and again with external forces against Pakistan’s national interests, is patronized by Washington and London and other Western powers, and has at times, even compromised this nation’s sovereignty for personal benefits and ascendency to political power. January 14th ought to be doomsday for Pakistan’s farsoodah leadership. The writing is on the wall!
What has Dr. Qadri publicly proven so far since his public rally in Lahore? Let us review his credentials with an unbiased, honest and rational spirit of inquiry. Obviously and unquestionably, Dr. Qadri is the most eloquent politician of our time. His scholarly intellectual, conceptual and articulate credentials are impeccable and matchless compared with any other politician in Pakistan. His command of theological knowledge, Islamic political history and understanding of the dynamics of political Islam are at a capacity and capability absolutely beyond the ability or competence of any of his political contemporaries or adversaries. Let us admit that Dr. Qadri is a scholarly phenomenon in himself and as such is capable of delivering and contributing to Pakistan’s politics what has been fundamentally missing so far.
Let us start with some basics: Dr. Qadri’s Lahore rally has proven certain things. First, he has organizational management skills par excellence. His communicative links from the top of the organizational hierarchy to the bottom levels are efficient, conducted with clarity and without delays. His chain of command is highly organized. His policy-making process is visionary and futuristic. The implementation of policy decisions is managed at decentralized levels (all these attributes are essential for the sustainable development and progress of any human organization). Dr. Qadri sits atop a huge organization and financial institution spread over 90 countries that operates with impeccable efficiency (that is Dr. Qadri’s claim, but his Lahore rally seems to endorse this claim).
Politics, in the sense of an organizational entity, is the most complex human organization in existence because its business is to deal with massive and complicated societal problems and offer urgent resolutions. My simple question is: Can’t Pakistan benefit from a person’s scholarly knowledge, management expertise and political correctness even if Dr. Qadri holds dual citizenship? Why is suddenly this “shor-o-ghau-gha” (uproar and outcry) that Pakistani democracy is under definite and serious threat? Why are the majority of TV anchors conducting disappointing and misleading TV talk shows, mostly asking irrelevant questions and maintaining unhelpful lines of inquiry on Qadri’s political phenomenon?
The real issue in present-day Pakistan is how to maintain national solidarity and enact a political initiative of fundamental change that will save this nation from further sliding into an economic-political abyss and ensure its national survival.
It is my considered opinion that time has arrived for the “political forces of change” to join hands in the struggle to save Pakistan from the clutches of vested-interest political leaderships. This is the only option for a future political discourse that will save Pakistan and put it on a path to becoming a democratic self-reliant welfare state.
Imran Khan (as well as Sheikh Rasheed) would be well-advised to enter into well-intended and serious negotiations and political alliance with Dr. Qadri. This alliance would have to define the fundamentals of a comprehensive national agenda in the post-2013 election in Pakistan as well as develop an understanding of the nature and dynamics of national leadership that would emerge out of the said process. The sooner it is done, the better.
In the meantime, let Dr. Qadri and his associates challenge the forces of status quo on January 14th on Constitutional Avenue in Islamabad and drive them to their ultimate political demise!
Let it be known: mobilizing the public to demand their fundamental rights and dismantling the political oligarchy are democratic norms!
Nelson Mandela, the most profound political philosopher and political activist of our times, once said that politicians always set their eyes on winning elections while a leader sets his/her attention on the welfare of the people and the future well-being of the generations to come.
My question is: What has the traditional leadership done so far? Win elections and demonstrate apathy for public welfare. Stop them now – before it is too late.
That is precisely what Dr. Qadri is preaching – and that is what January 14th is all about!! Is it not?